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Phillies Need to Improve Against RHP to be a Playoff Team

By Luke Stansfield, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

There are just 23 games remaining in the Phillies' shortened season. They find themselves two games back of the NL East behind the Braves, while holding on to the second wild card spot by a game over the Cardinals. The Phils final six opponents are the Boston Red Sox, Miami, New York Mets, Toronto, Washington, and Tampa Bay. There is one thing in common with all of these teams: their starting pitching is predominately right handed. 

The Phillies' bats have woken up and have proven to have one of the most dangerous top to bottom lineups in the MLB. However, when diving deeper into analytics, their hitting prowess is much more evident when facing LHP rather than RHP.

The Phillies rank first in BB/K (0.6), third in OBP (.356), third in SLG (.503), third in OPS (.859), second in ISO (.246), third in HRs (22), and third in RBIs (67) with the 14th most plate appearances (426) against left handers. 

They align 10th in BB/K (0.4), ninth in OBP (.332), 15th in SLG (.424), 13th in OPS (.756), 16th in ISO (.172), 20th in HRs (34), and 23rd in RBIs (123) with the 28th most plate appearances (973) against right handers.

There is only one player with a minimum of 30 at bats against RHP that has a batting average of .300 or better and it's Alec Bohm (.328). Meanwhile, players that are relied on heavily in the lineup like J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius, Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, and Andrew McCutchen have been struggling with a combined average of .242 and 103 strikeouts. Against left handers, this group has posted a .302 average and 41 strikeouts. 

The Phils upcoming opponents' starting rotations are made up of 69.3 percent right handers which means the Phillies have their work cut out for them, mainly the top of the lineup. The bullpen has been pitching better, and the starters have been contributing with solid outings. The fate of the Phillies and their possible playoff berth will be in the hands of the hitters, which is who they should be relying on. 

It's also worth noting that the Phillies are 4-1 when facing a left handed starting pitcher since Aug 23, the day Bryce Harper stated that they must win nine out of the next 10 games. They went on to do so. 

They will face LHP Martin Perez in Tuesday's first game of the double header against the Red Sox, but expect them to go up against former Phillies RHP Nick Pivetta in the second game. If they can take both games from the Sox, they will have some momentum headed into the final stretch. 

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