- The Philadelphia Phillies swept their three-game set with the Chicago Cubs this week after hiring Charlie Manuel as hitting coach
- The Phillies are still just 26-31 in their last 57 games, though
- Their pitching staff ranks 19th in terms of WHIP; only one other team in playoff contention has a mark that low (Atlanta)
The Philadelphia Phillies are coming off a sweep of the Chicago Cubs, fueled by Bryce Harper’s walk-off grand slam on Thursday night. Their World Series odds continue to lengthen, though, going from +1000 in June to +2400 in July and now +3500 in August. Are the Phillies worth a bet or is this stretch just fool’s gold?
Odds to Win 2019 World Series
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+300|
|New York Yankees||+325|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+2000|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+2500|
|Boston Red Sox||+3300|
|New York Mets||+3300|
|San Francisco Giants||+5000|
*Odds taken 08/16/19.
Phillies Gain Momentum With Sweep Of Cubs
One of the reasons the Phillies are back in the World Series and playoff conversation is they swept the National League Central-leading Cubs in a three-game set this week. That’s pulled the Phillies within one game of a Wild Card spot in the standings.
The Phillies bats came to life as they scored 22 runs in the three games. That’s coincided with the Phillies bringing on ex-manager Charlie Manuel on board as hitting coach. They had been averaging just 4.5 runs per game this month before this series. Maybe the addition of Manuel has provided a spark.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that the Cubs have had bullpen issues all season and their bullpen blew two of the three games here. Some of this may not be the Phillies bats waking up but rather the Cubs bullpen making them look good.
Phillies Were Struggling Before This Sweep
It’s nice and all that the Phillies earned this sweep but they were a middling team before that. They had lost five of six and were just 13-14 since the All-Star break. Looking further back, this team was 37-27 on June 8th but is just 26-31 since. Their trajectory just isn’t that encouraging.
Phillies Don’t Have The Pitching
While the Phillies bats have struggled unexpectedly, that problem is a separate issue. Even if they sort that out, they still don’t have the pitching to be a serious World Series threat.
The Phillies starters have compiled a 4.55 ERA this season while allowing opposing batters to hit .260 against them. To put that in perspective, the Los Angeles Dodgers are second in that category at .223 and the Washington Nationals are fourth at .227. These are teams the Phillies may have to meet in the playoffs.
Keep in mind that the Phillies also just lost Jake Arrieta for what could be the season and while he wasn’t fantastic this year, his WAR of 1.2 was second among pitchers only behind Aaron Nola.
In terms of the bullpen, the outlook is even more grim. Opponents have a .799 OPS against Phillies relievers, which ranks 25th in baseball. Only five other teams have given up more home runs from their relief staff. Those are major concerns.
Then you add in the hitting as the Phillies are batting just .247 since the All-Star break (23rd) and there’s reason to be concerned.
What’s The Best Bet?
I’m not interested in betting the Phillies to win the World Series. Harper has given the franchise a number of exciting moments in 2019 but this team is several bricks short of a load. They simply don’t have the pitching to really compete with teams like the Dodgers in the National League and Houston Astros or Cleveland Indians beyond.
Pass on the Phillies for now as this is just a brief spurt; not something that will carry them to a serious playoff run.
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