Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis
Rob Thomson
Though the Phillies slipped in Miami and dropped two of three to the upstart Marlins last weekend, the club pieced together a solid June and July to get back into the postseason picture. 

Per Fangraphs, the team is on pace to finish with 87 wins, a nearly unfathomable figure considering the lackluster start to the 2023 season. Fangraphs puts the Phillies' odds of reaching the postseason at 55 percent with a projection of 87 wins, the same number the club attainted last year before securing the National League pennant. 

"We're definitely playing a better brand of baseball than we were early on, that's the important thing," Kyle Schwarber said earlier this month. "We've put ourselves in a better position than where we were a month ago. We're going to continue to go out and grind, try to pile up [wins], and put ourselves in a good position that whenever we reach the 162nd game of the year, and it's over, hopefully, we're going to be moving on." 

Perhaps the biggest reason for the Phils' turnaround has been the rotation. Starters have posted a 3.20 ERA since June 1, the second-best mark in baseball over that stretch. The staff's 1.11 WHIP is third-best over the same timeline, and the .224 batting average against is second-best behind only the Marlins. 

Cristopher Sanchez has made four solid starts since being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in mid-June, tossing at least five innings in each of his last three starts while posting a 2.65 ERA. He'll remain in the rotation and start Friday's second-half opener against San Diego. Taijuan Walker and Ranger Suarez will each pitch on Saturday in the day-night doubleheader, and Zach Wheeler will start the finale on Sunday. Aaron Nola won't start again until July 18. 

Here are four storylines to watch as the second half of the regular season inches near. 

The Schedule 
The Phillies played 51 games on the road in the first half of the regular season, the highest mark in franchise history since 1973. The club has 43 home games remaining on the schedule and has posted a .579 winning percentage in 38 home games this year. For comparison, the Phillies posted a .580 winning percentage last year at Citizens Bank Park (47-34). 

"We need to take advantage of that benefit," Nick Castellanos said earlier this month. "We play well here at home, so that will help us in the second half, no doubt." 

The Trade Deadline 
The Phillies will be buyers at the deadline, but what Dave Dombrowski, the club's president of baseball operations, goes after will hinge on how things shake out over the next two weeks. An obvious target is a back-of-the-rotation starter should Sanchez falter, but the price could be steep. Dombrowski could also target an outfielder with pop to add to the lineup, especially with Bryce Harper potentially moving to first base and Kyle Schwarber sliding into the DH role. Cristian Pache has the defensive skills to start in the outfield, and though he's been solid at the plate as of late, it's a risky proposition to have him consistently in the starting lineup. 

The Bullpen 
Jose Alvarado has pitched well this season, but he's on the injured list again with left elbow soreness and its unclear when he'll be back. Seranthony Dominguez is also on the injured list dealing with a strained oblique, though it's expected he'll return to the club soon after the All-Star break. Both hurlers need to be healthy and back in the bullpen for the Phils as the postseason chase heats up.

Aaron Nola
Nola has been a horse for the Phillies tossing 119 innings, but his 4.34 FIP is the highest of his career and more than a full run higher than his career FIP of 3.37. He's surrendered four runs in three of his last six starts and his 1.6 homeruns-per-nine is the highest mark of his nine-year career. 

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Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis