It is funny how much things in the sports world can change in two weeks. Two weeks ago, the city of Philadelphia basically had Gabe Kapler ran out of town and the fan base started the search for their new manager. Two weeks ago, questions and rumors swirled in this city as to the extent of his understanding of being a Major League manager. Questions regarding his trust in the analytics of the game and not trusting his players began to define his tenure of the job. Funny how quickly those questions and rumors dwindle down as this team has gained momentum and found out to win baseball games.
The Phillies are a few games over .500 and just recently won six games in a row to gain some traction in the wide open NL East. Sure right now the Mets sit at top but their early success seems to be indicative of a team overachieving with a roster who might not be able to string that success throughout the long tedious Major League season. The Washington Nationals are off to a slow start and currently are in the middle of the pack when it comes to the standings. Sure its extremely early and the MLB season is not even a quarter of the way through but with some early struggles out of the way the Phillies are now a candidate for the NL East title.
Now the question arises what has changed in the past two weeks to turn around the Phillies from cellar dwelling to one of the hottest teams in baseball. The success can not be pin-pointed to one player or even one game but rather the success has been achieved by all aspects of this team. Aaron Nola is showing signs of brilliance as he has four starts under his belt and currently has a 2.22 ERA. Jake Arrieta has been off to a fast start after the late signing by the Phillies and seems to be pushing Aaron Nola as to who should be the staff’s ace. Even the bullpen (forgetting the first weekend of the season) has been off to a great start. Three early injuries to some key arms (Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, and Mark Leiter) should have been a threat to this team. However, the young relievers have relished in their respective new roles which might keep Gabe Kapler and Matt Klentak up at night wondering what to do with their roster when the three aforementioned players come off the Disabled List.
Even the hitting has been off the charts. Rhys Hoskins along with Scott Kingery, have lead the way on the offensive side of the ball. Both have been better then advertised as Kingery is gaining much needed Major League experience and Hoskins is at the tops of the NL in batting average. Besides Carlos Santana, who seems to be off to one of his worst starts in his career, this entire lineup is producing some timely hits along with some good at-bats.
While the players deserve much of the credit, Gabe Kapler never lost his cool when the doubters became loud. Gabe stood his ground listened to his players and believed in changing some of his approach while managing at the big league level. His ability to stay humble when the spotlight grew is one of the biggest reasons this team has figured out how to succeed. Gabe, along with the young players on this club, have been able to learn and grow in the first few weeks of the season. If they continue with their on the job education during the season there is no stopping this team on the path to success. To think two weeks ago fans created a clock on when they thought Gabe Kapler was going to get fired. Two weeks makes a huge difference!
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