In 2021 and 2022, the Philadelphia Phillies had players who demonstrated the desire to reach the playoffs, and this led to their first World Series appearance since 2009. Yes, some have top-tier contracts, and others enjoyed their moments. Plus one was productive but difficult to read by any method. Read on to find out!
Determination, Not Money:
Some Phillies fans will gravitate to every miscue to voice their displeasure and subliminally expect perpetual excellence, forgetting players are human, not a commodity. Basically, they spent years to achieve their major league dream. But, now, they face expectations and confidence at the highest level, though nothing compares to being a champion.
Put Another Way:“A warrior is always aware of what is worth fighting for.” Paulo Coelho
Put Another Way:
“A warrior is always aware of what is worth fighting for.” Paulo Coelho
Understanding the Fightins means knowing the competition. Translation: Information is currency. However, owner Steve Cohen of the New York Mets influenced other front offices to sign players at a record –record– pace and for more money, including the Phils’ one-week threesome. But some may skip this part and go to the spearhead paragraphs.
With the New York Yankees, two forces pressured managing partner Hal Steinbrenner: Paying the tax gives some money to the Tampa Bay Rays, who defeat the Yanks frequently, and Cohen with his excessive spending is pushing the Yankees to second New York team status. Plus Aaron Judge’s pact became reality after his historic 162.
On the other coast, the Los Angeles Dodgers are barely under the CBT (competitive balance threshold) due to Trevor Bauers’ $22.6 million. And while they released him, they are responsible for his final campaign with the Dodgers, but another club could sign him for the MLB minimum of roughly $700 thousand.
Besides the owner causing immediate high-dollar contracts, the Mets Buck Showalter is the old-school skipper, who didn’t rest his regulars even when he had a 10.5 game lead on June 1. So, he ended up with gassed offensive players, who had nothing left to take even one battle against the Atlanta Braves in late September to win the division.
In Atlanta, old-fashioned manager Brian Snitker played his regulars even in lopsided contests, as he chased the Metropolitans. But the players emptied their tank sweeping the Mets near season’s end. And when they faced the red pinstripes in October, they lost three of four contests.
Some fans might not consider players having limited energy and getting tired. In fact, they remembered the 300-inning pitchers but forgot about Jim Wright and all the careers lost before Tommy John surgery. Moreover, aging stars aren’t what they were. And old-school baseball was play every inning of every game. Burnout, no?
In medicine, a nurse sometimes cleans a patient’s mess. And a cop has the risk of guns aimed at him. In baseball, a big league skipper losing a 10-run lead after pulling his regulars once out of five similar games deals with a roasting by locals and media alike. But it is the unpleasant part of the job, and it shouldn’t affect the other four contests.
Long ago, the Bronx Bombers realized workload management helped their stars compete in the postseason. Though Joe Girardi rested his players, he did so in a rigid manner. To illustrate, he started Garrett Stubbs every Sunday regardless of whom the hurler or the team was. But his replacement improved on that.
Like Girardi, Rob Thomson rested his stars. Most notably, Aaron Nola had been a gassed starter in September, but he lasted until Oct. 14. And Thomson played Stubbs depending on the opponent and starter. Among other factors, though, the Fightins had their first Fall Classic victories since ’09. So, flexibility works!
To paraphrase Jimmy Rollins, he stated he had paced himself until July. And that was how players were effective for the stretch drive and serious October baseball before workload management. Unfortunately, some organizations are using the “go as hard as you can for as long as you can” thinking, but I don’t know which teams employ this method.
The Seven Most Determined Phillies To Win:
Beginning with setup specialist Jose Alvarado, the southpaw has gone from expendable by Tampa Bay and the Phils’ Triple-A demotion to dominance down the stretch. And he had six good, one acceptable and three bad outings during the postseason: one against the St. Louis Cardinals and two of four versus the Houston Astros.
Like Alvarado, Seranthony Dominguez was more a playoff surprise than a disappointment, unless you expected 100 percent success from both. And Dominguez only struggled in three of nine performances: one against the San Diego Padres and twice versus Houston out of three opportunities. Moreover, both are improving with experience.
Unlike Dominguez and Alvarado who demonstrated their desire for victory, Ranger Suarez looked the same, as he did in middle relief, a setup role, closing and starting. But it’s difficult to argue with the results or his body language. Ergo, he’s the one mentioned in the opening paragraph. And he allowed no runs to the Astros in one start and a relief effort.
In ’21, J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper had nothing left for the three-game away set against the Braves during the final week. However, the red pinstripes were healthier in ’22, Realmuto was fresh for October, and his only concern was his contribution instead of making up for Rhys Hoskins’ absence (injured list).
Among those who performed after August, Nola went 3-3 with a 2.63 ERA, including the playoff clincher allowing two hits over 6 2/3 scoreless frames in Houston. And he even excelled in his first two postseason outings before reverting to a gassed hurler. Yes, workload management proved he could succeed deep into the playoffs.
Compared to Harper, Zack Wheeler was second in determination at 3-1 in 2021 with a 1.47 September ERA. Moreover, he built himself back up for last September to fire six postseason innings or more in four of six outings at a 2.78 ERA with only one bad start despite missing a month. Ergo, the Phillies have an ace to face other top franchises.
Hitting .349 with six bombs and 13 RBIs for serious October baseball, Harper was fresh after time spent on the injured list. In ’22, he proved he’s the leader who willed his squad to a 9-2 mark over the Cards, Bravos and Pads to earn a Fall Classic berth. And he’ll be fresh for the final 3-4 months of ’23 and be a solid threat again.
Despite a competitive active roster, health, luck and rested players achieving their anticipated potential will determine the Fightins’ chances for consecutive Fall Classic appearances. To paraphrase Pete Rose in 1981, though, If you defeat our ace (Steve Carlton), we are beatable. Keep in mind, one variable can affect the outcome. Advantage: fresh Phillies!
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