The Philadelphia Phillies are looking to break a six-year playoff drought, and after their successful first half of the 2018 season, that aspiration is feasible. Plus, with the acquisitions of catcher Wilson Ramos and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, the Phillies are the most well-positioned team in the National League East to win the division.
This season, the Phillies have been a captivating storyline. Currently 60-48, they’re in first place in the NL East and have reached such a level through their stout pitching staff. The Phillies have some young arms, but simultaneously own one of the best one-two pitching punches in the sport in Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. 24-year-old righty Zach Eflin has also been impressive this season, currently owning a 3.64 ERA. And going into Thursday night, the Phillies were eighth in team ERA (3.82).
On the other hand, the Phillies lineup has struggled to provide their starting rotation with run support. Going into Thursday night, they were 28th in hits (854) and 26th in team batting average (.237). They have players hitting and executing at an encouraging level such as Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, and Rhys Hoskins, but, as a whole, the Phillies are struggling to put runners on base. In fact, in terms of everyday players, Franco owns the highest average on the team at just .277 — hence management going out and making trades for Ramos and Cabrera.
Granted he’s on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, Ramos is one of the best hitting catchers in the game. Currently hitting .297 to go along with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs, he gives the Phillies a power-hitting, middle-of-the-order bat who they will greet with open arms. They could plug him in the cleanup hole, or at least the heart of the order, and receive at-bats from someone who can drive runners in. And while he’s not stellar behind the plate, Ramos is a veteran catcher, and that has its value when it comes to working with young pitchers — which the Phillies have an abundance of. Like Ramos, Cabrera provides the Phillies with an impact bat.With the additions of @WRamosC3 and Asdrubal Cabrera, the @Phillies are well-positioned to win the National League East.Click To Tweet
While he’s more of a contact hitter, the veteran infielder has blasted 18 home runs this season and is a career .270 hitter. Cabrera also provides the Phillies with infield versatility. By being able to play second and third base as well as shortstop, he gives Kepler options when arranging his everyday order. And even though Cabrera is not the great fielder he once was, his versatility and ability to be a reliable switch hitter is a welcome addition to their infield depth.
When healthy, Ramos and Cabrera make an underwhelming Phillies lineup respectable which is crucial for their ballclub as the dog days of summer commence. Of course, Philadelphia getting busy at the Major League Baseball trade deadline doesn’t ensure anything when it comes to them winning the division or even making the playoffs. But when you look around the NL East, the Phillies are in the best of ways for the time being.
Much like the Phillies, the Atlanta Braves have surprised many so far this season, as they’re in second place in the NL East at 58-47. At the same time, their starting pitching is beginning to wear off, their bullpen has been an area of concern, and their lineup has been inconsistent. Sure, adding outfielder Adam Duvall, reliever Brad Brach, and righty Kevin Gausman adds depth to their 25-man roster, but none of those three individuals are going to punch Atlanta’s ticket to the playoffs.
The Washington Nationals have won the NL East in four of the last six seasons, but they’ve been hovering around .500 for a month and have been unable to run off a winning streak. Sure, they have the most talented team in the division, but the Nats starting pitching has been unreliable outside of Max Scherzer, and their lineup has been wildly inconsistent; they’re yet to show that they can win eight of ten games and get back to the top of the division.
The Phillies are a young team who some would argue is overachieving and a year, or two, ahead of schedule. But now it’s August, and they’re in first place, playing well against some of the best teams in MLB, and have added some impactful bats in the process.
Ramos and Cabrera give the Phillies a much-needed boost offensively. The Phillies have premier starting pitching, an improved lineup, and are the team to beat in the NL East.