2018 Philadelphia Phillies
2018 Philadelphia Phillies / Franchise: Philadelphia Phillies / BR Team Page
Managed by Gabe Kapler
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2018 Philadelphia Phillies came into the season confident that the team would see significant improvement, as the youth movement started a couple of years earlier had begun to pay dividends in the second half of the 2017 season. In particular, young players like OF/1B Rhys Hoskins, OF Odubel Herrera, 2B Cesar Hernandez and P Aaron Nola were on the verge of becoming stars. To guide the team through the move to contention, the Phillies had hired Gabe Kapler to be their manager. In the mold of the latest generation of major league managers, he had little on-field experience, but was well-versed in front office concepts such as advanced metrics. This hiring met with some skepticism from Phillies fans, who had the reputation of being rather old-school, and it was amplified when Kapler made a couple of managerial blunders in the team's first few games, such as coming in to change a pitcher when no one was warming up in the bullpen. As a result , Kapler was booed during the team's home opener, but this rough beginning was soon forgot. After starting off 1-4, the Phils won 8 of 9 games, and then continued to play well, finishing April at 16-12.
On May 10th, the Phillies made a very unusual roster move for this day and age when they sent down P Zac Curtis to AAA and called up Jake Thompson in his stead. What was unusual was that Curtis was the only lefthander among the 13 pitchers on the roster, as the only other one, Adam Morgan, had been placed on the disabled list a few days earlier, and that Thompson was a righty, leaving the team completely devoid of southpaws. This went completely against the recent managerial orthodoxy of always playing the match-up game in the late innings, but the decision was to go with the best arms available and not force some second-tier pitchers on the major league staff just because they happened to be lefthanders. The Phils had another good month in May as they were briefly in first place in the NL East and went 15-11 during the month. One of the key contributors was P Jake Arrieta, signed as free agent in the off-season, who posted an ERA of 0.90 during the month. However, they started June on a bad note, as they were swept in three games by the San Francisco Giants and scored just one run in 29 innings, - that being a solo homer by Arrieta. He vented his frustration after the series, particularly about the team's seeming inability to benefit from defensive shifts to the same extent as their rivals. The losses placed them three games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves, another rebuilding team, their biggest deficit since mid-April, with everyone aware that the pre-season favorites, the Washington Nationals, would be making a move on first place before long. They also lost 4 of their next 5 games and were just two games above .500 on June 9th, and were passed by the Nats. However, they managed to stop their skid and reintegrate the division race.
The Phillies played solid ball the rest of June after bottoming out and on June 30th were back in second place with a record of 44-37, 3 games beind the Braves. They then started July with 5 straight wins to move into a tie for first place and managed to maintain that place until the end of the month, when they were at 59-48, although the Braves were on their tail, just a half game behind. They managed to increase their lead to 2 1/2 games by July 26th, but then began to stall. On August 7th, they were still in first place, with a lead of a game and a half on the Braves and a record of 64-49, but they went into a tailspin starting then. They lost 16 of their next 25 games and on September 2nd had fallen to 4 games behind Atlanta and were in danger of missing the playoffs altogether.
Awards and Honors
- Rob Maaddi (Associated Press): "New vibe surrounds Phillies in spring training", USA Today Sports, March 6, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Phillies have disco fever, and that's bad news for rest of NL East", USA Today, August 8, 2018. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "With Jake Arrieta on board, Phillies believe they're ready to contend", USA Today Sports, March 12, 2018. 
- Todd Zolecki: "Klentak discusses Phils' up-and-down season: From front office to Kapler, GM says club will keep trying new ideas", mlb.com, September 16, 2018.