Phillies report card
It appeared in early June the Phillies were barreling toward another ho-hum summer with a defective roster destined for mediocrity. A managerial change seems to have rewritten the storyline though as the club enters the second half of the season in a position to snap the longest playoff drought in the National League. 

Starting Pitching 
Zack Wheeler performed like an All-Star over the first half of the season, and his absence from the midsummer classic was egregious. Wheeler's 2.46 ERA ranks fifth in the National League, plus he ranks second with 3.1 fWAR. Aaron Nola is also piecing together a stellar season, posting a 6-7 mark with a 3.13 ERA while ranking in the top five in the National League in FIP and fWAR. Assuming Wheeler and Nola continue to perform at the same pace, the Phils could have one of the best two pitcher combos at the top of a rotation. The rest of the rotation remains a question mark. Zach Eflin hasn't been able to remain healthy, and Kyle Gibson and Ranger Suarez have both been inconsistent. 
Grade: B 

Relief Pitching 
It's better than last year, but that isn't saying much. Seranthony Dominguez has been the star, but Jose Alvarado and Corey Knebel have been anything but reliable, and Jeurys Familia has been lousy. With some question marks in the starting rotation, the bullpen needs to improve if the Phils hope to contend in October. 
Grade: C- 

Team Defense 
We knew this wasn't going to be a club known for defense. The team ranks 29th in MLB with -26 defensive runs saved. You may see something you've never seen on any night with this defensive crew, but Dave Dombrowski doesn't care as long as the bats produce. 
Grade: D 

Missing Bryce Harper is a significant blow, but Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins have shouldered the weight, and the offense has scored the third-highest number of runs in the majors. Sure, there's been very little offensive output from the centerfield position, and Nick Castellanos has struggled mightily, but the bats have been solid for the Phils. You have to think J.T. Realmuto and Castellanos perform better in the second half. If that's the case, and the output from the others remains as is, this grade could be perfect come October. 
Grade: A- 

Joe Girardi took the heat for a team that looked unhappy and defeated, but Rob Thomson has had the opposite experience. Thomson secured eight consecutive wins and led the Phils to a 19-8 mark in June. The managerial change appears to have jolted the clubhouse, and the club now sits six games over .500 entering the second half of the season.  
Grade: B
13 stars

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