So, it turns out the Phillies can't actually win 'em all. Go figure. No deficit was too big en route to six victories in a row, tied for the Phils' longest winning streak since September 2012. But righthander Drew Anderson gave up four runs in five innings of his first major-league start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Phillies lost for the first time since June 29. But they still took two of three games at PNC Park and, with the Atlanta Braves losing, too, 10-3 in Milwaukee, remained tied for first place in the National League East entering a doubleheader Monday against the New York Mets.
Speaking of which, when snow caused the Phillies' April 2 game at Citi Field to be postponed, the Mets were in the early stages of a season-opening 11-1 run that had them looking like a runaway train. Since that stretch, they have gone 24-50 and fallen to within one game of the last-place Miami Marlins. How bad have things gotten in Flushing? There's a real debate about whether the Mets ought to trade co-aces Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard before July 31. Both pitchers would bring a considerable haul, but if either is actually traded, Mets fans might storm chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon's home with pitchforks.
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Never mind that the Phillies' swifter-than-expected rise to playoff contention has been among the National League's best stories so far this season. The team will be represented at next week's All-Star Game by only one player: ace righthander Aaron Nola. And there's a chance that Nola won't even pitch.
But before you scream about the injustice brought upon Odubel Herrera and Rhys Hoskins, remove the Phillies-colored glasses and realize that neither outfielder was snubbed.
Herrera played as well as any outfielder in the majors (non-Mike Trout division) through the season's first six weeks. But once his on-base streak was snapped at 46 games, he went into a 13-for-84 tailspin. Overall, he ranks 15th among NL outfielders in OPS (.804) and tied for 18th in wins above replacement (1.3). And considering Herrera's stall tactics at the plate don't win him popularity contests among his peers, it's unsurprising that he wasn't near the top in the players' balloting.
Hoskins, meanwhile, has been hot since returning from a 10-day absence because of a fractured jaw. But before his injury, he was mired in a miserable slump. From April 28 through May 28, he went 13 for 97 (.134) with 36 strikeouts and only two homers. So, although his .855 OPS ranks sixth among NL outfielders, he wasn't consistent enough to warrant an All-Star nod.
The NL roster also includes only six outfielders, one fewer than the American League, to make up for carrying lone Marlins representative J.T. Realmuto as a third catcher. Three of those outfielders — Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Nick Markakis (Braves) and Bryce Harper (Nationals) — were voted by the fans; the other three — Lorenzo Cain (Brewers), Charlie Blackmon (Rockies) and Christian Yelich (Brewers) — were chosen by the players.
There's no arguing with Cain, Markakis and Yelich, who rank first, third and sixth, respectively, among NL outfielders in wins above replacement. Kemp leads NL outfielders in OPS (.910) and is staging the biggest Hollywood revival since John Travolta did Pulp Fiction. Quarrel, if you wish, with Harper's inclusion, but he needs to be featured in any exhibition game played in Washington. He also ranks third in the league with 21 homers.
Blackmon isn't having his best season, but his OPS (.822) still beats Herrera (.803) while his home-run total (17) tops Hoskins (14). Indeed, the NL outfielders who should feel most spurned are the Mets' Brandon Nimmo (.901 OPS, 2.4 WAR, 12 homers) and the Diamondbacks' David Peralta (.862 OPS, 2.5 WAR, 15 homers). If replacements are required this week, they merit consideration over Herrera and Hoskins.
The Phillies' biggest All-Star snub: Seranthony Dominguez. The rookie is tied for third among NL relievers in WHIP (0.74) and ranks 12th in strikeouts per nine innings (12.9) and 16th in ERA (1.82). But All-Star voting still tends to favor closers, and Dominguez has been used in a variety of situations by manager Gabe Kapler.
Drew Anderson's first major-league start was marred by a flat slider to, of all people, the opposing pitcher.
Here's more on Aaron Nola's well-deserved All-Star Game selection, including a cool anecdote on how he got the news.
Be bold? Matt Breen has a bold idea for the Phillies: Trade for Manny Machado.
Speaking of a possible Machado trade, Bob Brookover explains the trouble with prospects, namely the difficulty in projecting how good they will be. Remember the prospect-rich trades for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Hunter Pence? The Phillies didn't have many regrets with those deals.
Jake Arrieta thinks the Phillies have enough talent on their roster now to win the NL East. But he also said "it wouldn't surprise me if we did make a move."
Finally, in case you missed last Friday, I explored how Gabe Kapler has gone from getting booed at the home opener to being an NL Manager of the Year candidate, perhaps even the front-runner.
Today: Let's play two! Phillies visit NY for a doubleheader with the Mets, 4:10 p.m.
Tomorrow: Phillies will call up a starter (Enyel De Los Santos, it seems) vs. Mets, 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday: Mets ace Jacob deGrom faces Phillies in series finale, 7:10 p.m.
Thursday: Phillies will make up a May 15 rainout in Baltimore, 6:05 p.m.
Friday: The final series before the All-Star break begins in Miami, 7:10 p.m.
You didn't really think we would let Friday night's nine-inning marathon come and go without acknowledgment, did you? Not only was the Phillies' 17-5 victory over the Pirates — played in a brisk 4 hours, 30 minutes — the longest nine-inning game in franchise history, it was actually two minutes longer than a 13-inning game July 1 against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park, too. The Phillies saw 236 pitches, their highest total in a nine-inning game since June 13, 2008 at St. Louis, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, and the most by any team since the Yankees on July 28, 2015 at Texas (244 pitches).
Want more? Our Matt Breen, who was on the scene in Pittsburgh, put the length of the game into perspective here:
Question: It seems to me that Kapler should switch [Rhys] Hoskins and [Carlos] Santana in the batting order. Santana gets on base a lot via walks and Hoskins is a better power hitter. I don't understand why they remain in the current batting order. Doesn't it make sense to switch them? –David W., via e-mail