The Phillies are heading into September as expected, near the bottom of the National League. Still, things are looking up; the team will finish with more wins this year than in 2015. Until injuries to Aaron Nola took hold, the starting pitching held up. Plus, several players have displayed their value to the franchise for the future. Though they won’t be playing for a playoff spot, here are four reasons to keep an eye on the Phillies in September:
Will Second base Remain Cesar’s Palace?
Hitting above .400 with a .515 on-base percentage in the month of August, Cesar Hernandez is red hot. But Freddy Galvis has shown a little more home run pop and a flashier glove. Super prospect J.P. Crawford will no doubt take Freddy’s shortstop position by 2017, but Crawford may not see the big leagues this year. So September could set the stage for one last audition for Hernandez and Galvis to see who starts at 2B moving forward.
Does Vinnie Stay a Starter?
Vincent Velasquez has great stuff, but tends to try to throw his way out of trouble, not pitch his way out. Repeat offenses in September could draw Manager Pete Mackanin to suggest to the front office that Velasquez close instead of start. GM Matt Klentak could even use the offseason to move this potential star and his affordable contract for some value in return, a la Ken Giles last offseason.
Altherr in the Outfield?
If Aaron Altherr continues to show versatility at the plate and in the outfield this September, he should guarantee himself a starting spot next year. Odubel Herrera can do the same, despite following his first ever All Star appearance with a slumping August. Even with these two locking up spots, that leaves one starting spot left up for grabs. Minor leaguer Nick Williams may compete for that job in 2017, but in September, Phillies fans will likely see guys like Darnell Sweeney play out there.
How Will Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz Go Out?
How will Ryan Howard’s final at-bats as a Fightin’ be received? With the Phillies almost certainly taking his contract buyout this offseason, the 2006 NL MVP and 2008 World Series champion will take his final swats in red pinstripes this fall. Carlos Ruiz, better known as “Chooch,” may be ending his Phillies career as well, as prospect Jorge Alfaro competes for time at catcher. Phillies fans will likely see both their final games against the rival New York Mets on September 30, which will serve as a chance to cheer on Chooch and the Big Piece one last time.
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