Culture Shift Leads to Record Shift
June 3rd. The end of the Joe Girardi era and the start of the “Philly Rob” era in Philadelphia. Since the devastating 22-29 start to the season, The Phillies have won 14 of their last 16, including a 9-game win streak, and stormed back to only 2.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. As much as Rob Thompson taking over the manger job has tremendously changed the clubhouse and jumpstarted the team, a perfect storm has been brewing all of June.
For starters, the highest paid guy is doing exactly what is being asked. Bryce Harper, currently 2nd in Sportsnaut MVP race, has been stepping up and providing the jolt needed for this team to go on a tear. In Friday’s night game against the Nationals, Harper pinch hits in the 8th and ropes a 2 RBI double to tie the game, that the Phils’ would go on to win in the 10th inning. Even while being regulated to a DH due to a UCL injury, Bryce is letting it be known that he can still make an impact. Right next to Harper is the new free agent signings of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos heating up with perfect timing. Both saw early season struggles but, the month of June has been very favorable. After hitting .169 and .196 in April and May, the legend of June Schwarber came alive and is currently hitting .300 through 16 games this month. A career .199 hitter in the month of May, Schwarber loves the summer months and sees a massive uptick being a career .260 hitter in June.
“You saw it last year, right? Interim manager Rob Thompson said. “All those home runs in a short period of time. When [Schwarber] is locked in, he’s pretty special.”
Seeing that he also has 7 home runs this month, currently 4th in the Majors with 18 total, it’s got to be said that he has busted out the slump. The other half of the free agent duo, Castellanos has also figured it out after the starting the month in an 0-16 skid at the plate. Since then, he’s hit .312 and had 5 multi-hit games. The whole lineup seems to be hitting as Didi Gregorius and Matt Vierling have been on great tears as well and complementing the core very well. The starting pitching has been great and while the bullpen still has its flaws, Thompson has made some adjustments, such as Cory Knebel not in the closer role, that have yielded slightly better results.
The team has significantly shifted its outlook going forward. The Braves and the Mets do need to cool down to help this team, but especially with a lighter schedule for the rest of June and July and 3 key series with 2 against the Braves and 1 against the Padres, the Phillies know they have found their groove.
“It’s just a different vibe right now. We are playing our asses off.” Said Bryce Harper.
“This is what we expected coming in,” Zack Wheeler said. “We’re hitting on basically all cylinders right now. Hopefully we can continue that.”
The Fightin’s look to finish off the sweep of the Nationals on Sunday before continuing their road trip in a quick 2 game series in Arlington against the Rangers.