The Philadelphia Phillies are playing great baseball in the second half of the season.
At the All-Star break, this team was 49-43.
But, thanks to a great August the Phillies have increased this record to 70-55 and are in position for a Wild Card spot.
Also, for the first time since 2011, the Phillies are on pace to win 90+ games.
That would be an achievement that no one saw coming, especially after a 22-29 start to the season.
You could say a big reason for the better play is the managerial change.
The Phillies fired Joe Girardi for Rob Thomson and have flourished under the interim manager.
Without a doubt, the Phillies have benefitted from playing a soft schedule.
They have beaten up on teams like the Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, and Reds all during the second half of the season.
But, all you can do is beat the team in front of you and the Phillies have had success at that.
Baseball-Reference gives the Phillies a 96.1% chance to make the postseason and a 2.3% chance to win the World Series.
If the Phillies can keep up their 90-win pace, they will most likely slot in as the number two Wild Card team in the NL.
The Return Of The MVP
The Phillies have been able to have all of their success without the reigning NL MVP, Bryce Harper, in the lineup.
The 29-year-old slugger is expected to make his return to the Phillies lineup on Friday after fracturing his thumb on June 25.
The Phillies have gone 35-26 since losing Harper and it is impressive how they kept their playoff hopes alive despite being without their star for months.
Harper was playing awesome before going out with his injury.
He was hitting a .318 with 15 home runs and 48 RBI.
Also, he was carrying an OPS+ of 171, which is way above league average.
Despite being unable to throw when he returns to the field, Harper’s bat will be key.
He will be slotted in as the everyday designated hitter and provide an immediate upgrade for the Phillies at the top of their lineup.
The Phillies have turned their season around thanks to the play of some current and former All-Stars.
Catcher J.T. Realmuto has been on fire the second half of the season.
His .333 batting average and 1.041 OPS are huge improvements over what he did in the first half.
The catcher also has the highest WAR of any catcher in baseball with a 4.4.
Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola have pitched like aces this season despite neither making the All-Star team.
Nola is even coming off of an 11-strikeout shutout against the Reds.
He is also number one in BB/9 this season with a 1.19.
Nola carries a 3.08 ERA and Wheeler has a 3.07.
They also rank ninth and tenth in baseball in K/9.
Most people may be numb to how good Nola and Wheeler have pitched this season, but they are a big reason why the Phillies are having so much success.
After all of that, the National League leader in home runs was not even mentioned.
Kyle Schwarber has 35 homers this year and he looks worth the large contract the Phillies gave him in the offseason.
Schwarber has a poor batting average (.213) and does not play good defense but he can certainly hit the ball a long way.
The 29-year-old outfielder is one of the only players on the Phillies with World Series experience.
So he will be counted on big time throughout the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs.
Philadelphia has been on a roll during the second half.
If they continue to play at this way expect to see them competing for the championship in October.