We are just 13 games into the season, but one Phillie is tied for sixth in all of baseball in home runs, is averaging a home run once every 9.75 at bats (third in the national league, sixth in the majors), is hitting .333 and has an OPS of .998.

No, it’s not Bryce Harper.

Nor is it Kyle Schwarber. Or Trea Turner. Or J.T. Realmuto. Or Nick Castellanos.

Nope, it’s none of those handsomely-paid stars who are expected to put up sick numbers.

Instead, it’s Brandon Marsh. You know, the guy who gets pulled out of the lineup regularly against lefties. The guy who was bumped to a corner outfield spot for Johan Rojas. The guy who usually bats eighth in the lineup (even though for the past few games he’s been bumped up to sixth because of how well he’s been hitting.)

Marsh hit his fourth dinger in the Phillies’ 5-1 win over the Pirates Thursday. He didn’t think he did though. Nor did the umpires. It was only confirmed to be a homer after video review. But the reality is that Marsh is picking up the slack for some of his teammates who are struggling at the moment.

Schwarber is hitting .212. Harper is hitting .196. Castellanos is hitting .152.

Marsh is happy to contribute and feels he’s getting better and better with each passing day, but he’s not worried about the rest of the offense – and he expressed that in only a way he can:

“We’ve got dudes and dogs. And dogs that show out every night.”

Marsh has been the dude who has been the top dog for the Phillies offense so far. And he doesn’t worry. Nor does manager Rob Thomson, who knows the team has gotten off to a slower start offensively than they would like, but – stop me if you’ve heard this before – he believes in his guys.

“If you don’t think we’re going to slug, you ain’t watching the games,” he said in an absolute hysterical exchange with WIP’s Howard Eskin before the game.

Of course, after that exchange, the Phillies went out and hit three home runs.

You saw Marsh’s. Here’s Alec Bohm’s:

And here’s Bryson Stott’s:

It was a good night for the Daycare – and for slugging in general.

While no one should worry about this team’s ability to slug because of who is on this roster, it’s notable that until Bohm’s homer in the fourth inning, the Phillies had gone 91 straight plate appearances without an extra base hit, their longest stretch since June of 2022.

Yeah, the offense has been less than ideal, but so has the weather. At least nine of the Phillies games so far have been played in cold, windy or rainy conditions. April baseball sucks, but it’s part of the grind.

But back to Marsh, Thomson hinted that even though the Phillies will face lefties both Friday and Saturday, there’s a good chance Marsh will stay in the lineup – mostly because of how he’s performed to start the season.

“I like where I’m aggressive where I want to be and where I choose to be,” Marsh said. “I’m enjoying the way that it’s been this year so far, but we gotta keep it that way. We gotta stay stubborn to the work, the approach and all of the above. So yeah, (I’m) very happy, be we just gotta keep that going.”

Red Hot Ranger

The Phillies are above .500 for the first time this season and it’s mostly thanks to their pitching. They have a team ERA of 3.69 and a team WHIP of 1.188 – and that includes a few early season blow ups by pitchers in the first week.

The starters have been especially impressive, maybe none more than Ranger Suarez.

He tossed six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. For the season now he’s 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA and an incredibly impressive 0.706 WHIP.

“All of his stuff was working,” Thomson said. “He just added and subtracted all night. I thought he was outstanding.”

Suarez threw 97 pitches, 62 for strikes. He looks dominant so far this season. Much of that has to do with him finally having a full spring training to get ready for the season, something he’s never had before due to visa issues, injuries, COVID, and the World Baseball Classic.

But this year he was able to get a full spring preparation in and it’s paying early-season dividends.

“Having a (full) spring training helps you get to know how your pitches are going to work and because I know my pitches I know what I can do and how I can use them in every situation,” Suarez said.

A surprise in the pen

Yunior Marte was one of the guys Rob Thomson loved talking about at Spring Training in 2023. He was constantly mentioning Marte’s stuff and felt the guy was going to eventually be a solid contributor to the Phillies bullpen last season.

It may have taken a year to really find his footing at the major league level, but Marte is showing in 2024 what Thomson was seeing in 2023 – in what just a matter of consistency.

“He’s throwing strikes,” Thomson said. “I mean his stuff is so good. He has a power sinker at 97 or 98 (MPH), and the slider’s kind of a pitch for him and now he’s added a change up, so when he throws strikes he’s tough to hit.”

So far Marte has appeared in six games. He’s tossed 6 2/3 innings and hasn’t allowed a run. He’s given up just two hits and two walks while striking out seven.

I asked Marte what he felt was different so far this season, and this was before the game and before striking out the side in the seventh inning when it was still a one-run game. He echoed his manager.

“Consistency,” he said. But then added that he’s more comfortable knowing he’s here and he’s going to be relied on in more important roles than in the past.

“I think that’s helped me more this year,” he said. “I didn’t know everything last year. Now I feel like I have trust and I feel closer to this environment.”

The changeup Thomson talked about, was something Marte started working on last season, but didn’t really utilize in games until this year. Marte said it feels good and he thinks it’s a good pitch for him. Thomson said it will really help him against left-handed batters.

Either way, Marte is becoming one of the regulars in the pen, making the Phillies back end even that much more dangerous.

Orion’s Coming

Reliever Orion Kerkering is expected to rejoin the Phillies this weekend and likely could be available Sunday. He’s had seven strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings on his rehab assignment in Clearwater. It’s a good bet that when he is activated, the Phillies will send down Nick Nelson. Nelson allowed four hits and a run in two innings against the Pirates. Nelson would be the probable choice to be sent out because he has an option remaining. Ricardo Pinto, who is the other long guy in the pen, is out of options.

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