After 82 games, the Phillies are 45-37 and very much in playoff contention, something they have not been able to say since 2011 when the club set a franchise record with 102 wins. That year, they were 51-31 after 82 games and had a 3.01 ERA. This is the first year since then that the team ERA has been under 4.00 after 82 games. The team ERA is 3.97.
The more interesting case study is on the offensive side. The Phillies are hitting .235, by far their lowest team batting average in this decade after 82 games. This is the first year, however, that they are averaging more than four runs per game after 82 games since 2012, and their .319 on-base percentage is the team's highest at this point in the season since 2010. You can thank bases on balls for that. Love it or hate it, the Phillies' ability to take walks has made the offense better.
You're signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday during the Phillies season. If you like what you're reading, tell your friends it's free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @brookob. Thank you for reading.
— Bob Brookover (email@example.com)
Fans of the Baltimore Orioles — and Ravens, for that matter — are famous for shouting out the letter "O" during the "Oh say can you see" portion of the national anthem. They've probably been shouting some obscenities at their favorite team this year, too. At 24-59, the Orioles have the worst record in baseball and are on pace to win fewer than 50 games for the first time since the franchise moved from St. Louis to Baltimore in 1954 and changed its name from the Browns to the Orioles.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has been the worst player in baseball this season. His .155 batting average is 31 points lower than that of any of the 164 hitters who currently qualify for a batting title. His .497 OPS is also the worst in baseball. Worse than those numbers are these: The Orioles owe Davis $103.5 million through the 2022 season.
The O's, of course, do have one superstar, and the Phillies, like so many other teams, would love to have shortstop Manny Machado, who is having an amazing season especially when you consider how bad the lineup is around him. Machado, who will turn 26 Friday and will be a free agent after this season, is hitting .310 with 21 home runs and 59 RBIs. Even if the crowds are not large at Citizens Bank Park the next two days, those in attendance would be wise to make Machado feel welcome.
Machado is not the only Oriole who could be gone by the July 31 trade deadline. Veteran center fielder Adam Jones and veteran closer Zach Britton, both free agents after this season, should also be available. The Phillies, of course, could use more production from right field, and a solid lefty reliever with closing experience would be welcome, too.
Righthander Zach Eflin was by far the Phillies' best pitcher in June, going 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA. Our Matt Breen talked to him about his evolution as a pitcher, which included surgery on both his knees.
Down in the minors, Mickey Moniak tripled in high-A Clearwater's win over Lakeland, and Alec Bohm went 2 for 4 with an RBI for Williamsport (Class A short season) in a rain-shortened loss to Auburn. Here is Monday's minor-league report.
Today: Zach Eflin pitches series opener vs. Orioles, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Happy 4th of July. Aaron Nola pitches at 4:05 p.m.
Thursday: Off day.
Friday: Nick Pivetta back as a starter at Pittsburgh, 7:05 p.m.
The Phillies are 17-7 in one-run games. Their 17 wins rank third in baseball, behind Seattle (26-11) and Milwaukee (18-11), and their .708 winning percentage in one-run games is the best in baseball. The Phillies are also 6-1 in extra-inning games, the best in the National League. Only Seattle (8-0) and Toronto (8-1) have more extra-inning wins. A year ago, the Phillies went 21-36 in one-run games and 7-10 in extra innings.
I read every day and wish you could also work weekends. What I would like to know is all the talk about the Phils spending money on players in the next couple of months. Mike Trout's contract is up in 2020, should the Phils be holding space for a run at the best player in baseball and a huge EAGLES fan?
Julian H, via email