Top of the Order: The Phillies Keep Turning Without Trea

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Top of the Order, where every Tuesday and Friday I’ll be starting your baseball day with some news, notes, and thoughts about the game we love.

Losing your starting shortstop and no. 2 hitter all at once is one of the worst things that can happen to a team, but somehow, the Phillies have weathered the absence of Trea Turner better than anyone could have hoped. The All-Star departed Philadelphia’s May 3 game against the Giants (in which he also scored from second on a wild pitch!) with a strained hamstring; at the time, he was expected to miss about six weeks, though he is “progressing at a surprising pace given the original timetable,” as Matt Gelb of The Athletic recently reported.

Obviously, the Phillies would love to have Turner back ahead of schedule, but they have more than held their own without him. They are 12-3 in their 15 games since May 4, their first following Turner’s injury, and their 123 wRC+ is the second-best mark in the majors during that stretch, behind only the Yankees. Philadelphia’s success isn’t due to the other positions carrying the load; though they’ve certainly been playing well, too. Rather, Philadelphia’s shortstop platoon of Bryson Stott and Edmundo Sosa has combined for a 163 wRC+ over that 15-game span; that’s better than every other NL team’s shortstop production. Only the Orioles, led by Gunnar Henderson, have gotten more offense at short.

Since Turner went down, Stott leads the Phillies with a 230 wRC+ and ranks fourth in the majors among players with at least 50 plate appearances in that span. Meanwhile, Sosa’s 167 wRC+ as a shortstop is the second-best mark since May 4, behind Henderson (187). Catcher J.T. Realmuto (153), first baseman Bryce Harper (180), and DH Kyle Schwarber (129) have also propelled the offense over these last 15 games. Additionally, the Phillies have received surprising contributions from utilityman Kody Clemens, who’s popped a couple of homers and has a 183 wRC+ across his 25 plate appearances since he was recalled to replace Turner on the roster. Even right fielder Nick Castellanos has woken up a bit, mustering a respectable 117 wRC+ during the 15 games without Turner after having posted a woeful 42 wRC+ from Opening Day through May 3.

On the other side of the ball, Phillies pitchers have kept up their end of the bargain for pretty much the whole season, and they’ve continued to perform well over the last 15 games, ranking fifth in ERA (2.78) and third in FIP (3.22).

All in all, even without Turner, everything’s clicking for the Phillies this season. They enter play Tuesday with a five-game lead over the Braves in the NL East, with the highest scoring offense (5.33 runs per game) and by far the most valuable pitching staff (9.3 WAR) in the majors. As Jake Mailhot noted in yesterday’s Power Rankings, Philadelphia has played the weakest schedule in baseball so far this season, so perhaps the team won’t maintain its .708 winning percentage the rest of the way. Even so, the Phillies have been winning at an .800 clip without their superstar shortstop. That is certainly encouraging.

Quick Hits

Let’s run through some other notable things from the past few days of games:

• The Yankees’ seven-game winning streak was snapped Monday night in heartbreaking fashion, when closer Clay Holmes allowed his first four earned runs of the season to blow a 4-1 ninth-inning lead against the Mariners in an eventual 5-4 Seattle win. Nevertheless, New York is playing its best baseball of the year right now. Aaron Judge has continued his reign of terror on opposing pitchers, going his 14-for-28 with 10 extra-base hits, including four homers, in his last eight games, and after a mini-slump, Juan Soto is catching fire again; over his last four games, he is 7-for-15 (.467) with two homers. Luis Gil, who wouldn’t have made the rotation if not for Gerrit Cole’s injury, struck out 14 in his start on Saturday. The Orioles lost on Monday as well, keeping the Yankees’ division lead at two games. The two sides don’t meet again until June 18.

• Like the Yankees, the Astros also coughed up an early lead on Monday night after a recent stretch of excellence. Houston led 6-1 before the Angels scored seven runs in the top of the fifth inning in what ended up as a 9-7 Astros loss. Still, the Astros have won each of their previous three series and jumped back into the AL West race after their dreadful start. They enter play Tuesday 4.5 games behind the first-place Mariners. Less than two weeks ago, on May 8, they were 8.5 games back. Yordan Alvarez still isn’t hitting anywhere near his abilities — though perhaps a double, single, and walk on Monday portends the start of a hot streak — but Alex Bregman has woken up and Kyle Tucker is playing like an MVP.

• Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers set a franchise record Monday night when he homered in his sixth consecutive game. His home run, a two-run blast, came in the fourth inning off Rays righty Taj Bradley and extended Boston’s lead in its 5-0 win. Over his last six games, Devers is 7-for-24, his only non-homer hit being a single, with a 1.042 slugging percentage. With his home run Monday night, Devers surpassed the six other players who went yard in five straight games with the Red Sox: Bobby Dalbec (2020), Jose Canseco (1995), George Scott (1977), Dick Stuart (1963), Ted Williams (1957), and Jimmie Foxx (1940). The major league record for consecutive games with a home run is eight, shared by Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987), and Ken Griffey Jr. (1993).





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magargle
23 days ago

Devers is 7-for-24, his only non-homer hit being a single, with a 1.042 OPS.”

That means 6 HRs and a single in those 24 ABs. That 1.042 OPS figure must be wrong. 1.042 Slug is likely.