For months, the New York Mets occupied the top spot in the National League East division, even though teams like the Philadelphia Phillies, the Atlanta Braves, and at times the Washington Nationals remained relatively close.
The scenario is different now.
Yes, the Mets are still topping division with a 56-52 record, but their lead is down to 0.5 games.
The Phillies, winners of five games in a row, are closer than ever.
One Of The Hottest Teams In MLB
Will Philadelphia have enough in its roster to surpass the Mets and take the NL East crown?
It’s still too early to tell, and the Braves are in the mix, too, but there is no denying that the Phillies are finally starting to click.
Phillies are a half game back with Mets coming to Philly tomorrow
Phillies have won 5 straight, longest win streak in 3 months, and matching season long win streak
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) August 5, 2021
During their five-game winning streak, the Phillies have scored a whopping 43 runs, or 8.6 per game.
That is an insane rate that is unsustainable over a full season, but tells us how improved the unit is.
The Phillies’ bats are firing on all cylinders right now, led by Bryce Harper.
The former NL MVP is having an incredibly underrated season, hitting .305/.417/.563 with 18 home runs, 26 doubles, 63 runs scored, and 42 RBI in 88 games.
Bryce Harper's hot streak continues w/ a double to right-center that scores Jankowski.
Phils up 9-4 🔥
— Phillies Nation (@PhilliesNation) August 5, 2021
He has been well supported by his teammates.
Catcher J.T. Realmuto is having another fine season (.274/.361/.458 and 12 home runs, which is excellent production for a backstop) and Rhys Hoskins is leading the team in home runs and slugging .509.
Jean Segura has been as steady as always.
When Andrew McCutchen comes back from the injured list (he is currently dealing with left knee inflammation) and adds his 20-homer, .815-OPS bat, this offense will look extremely good.
The Team Made Some Deadline Pitching Acquisitions
The Phillies had to surrender a very valuable piece for the future in Spencer Howard, but they did well to improve the rotation and the bullpen at the same time.
Kyle Gibson will slot in nicely at the rotation.
He is not the best fit, given that he is a groundball pitcher and the Phillies’ infield defense is not particularly good, but he will help.
Ian Kennedy may not be spectacular, but should provide some stability to the bullpen even though he hasn’t started his time with the Phillies on the highest of notes.
Overall, the Phillies look like a team that can fight with the Mets and Braves for the division.
Zack Wheeler has pitched admirably this season, with a 2.57 ERA in 147 innings, and should continue to do so.
As Aaron Nola (4.49 ERA) improves and Ranger Suarez gets acclimated to the rotation, Philadelphia should have enough weapons to be contenders in what is shaping up to be a three-team race for the NL East crown.
It will be a golden opportunity for Harper to show what he’s made of, and so far, he is definitely leading the charge.
As long as the big three in the rotation (Wheeler, Nola, and Gibson) hold on, and Harper gets enough help from Hoskins, McCutchen, Realmuto and company, Philadelphia could be in for a very good final two months.