All of the Sudden, Phillies Have One of National League's Deepest Rosters

The Phillies' clubhouse these days is filled with more talent than they've had in seven years, and it's not just because of alumni weekend.

As Brad Lidge played ping-pong with Dylan Cozens and Chad Durbin chatted with Aaron Nola in the clubhouse after the Phils completed their four-game sweep over the Marlins, the new shortstop and hero of Sunday's game sat quietly at his locker and packed his bags for the West Coast trip.

With the additions they made in July and the numerous emergences of young players this season, the Phillies' roster is very deep now. It's at least as deep as the rosters of the Braves, Brewers and Diamondbacks, three other NL contenders.

Just look back at the Phillies' lineup in Sunday's 5-3 win (see first take). You have a leadoff man with a .370 OBP who walked twice. The 2-through-7 hitters have 111 home runs combined. The catcher batted eighth, but once Wilson Ramos returns from the DL in a few weeks, the catcher could be batting cleanup for the Phillies.

It's become a long and powerful lineup. 

The rotation has led the Phillies all season. Aaron Nola's been a Cy Young candidate, Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez have found their grooves, Zach Eflin has exceeded expectations and Nick Pivetta is a wild card capable of striking out 10 batters in any given start.

In the bullpen, the Phils have enough right now even when Seranthony Dominguez is used before the ninth inning. On Sunday, Dominguez came on for Nola in the seventh inning - the earliest he's been used since mid-June - but the Phils were able to get six outs from veterans Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter to seal the win.

The standout hero on Sunday, though, was Asdrubal Cabrera, who homered for the second straight game, this time winning it with a two-run shot in the eighth. It was Cabrera's 20th of the season and second as a Phillie. Whether or not Scott Kingery is the future, Cabrera gives the Phillies so much more offensively right now. He's also been solid defensively at shortstop, a position few thought Cabrera could still play.

"Asdrubal being in the heart of our lineup definitely lengthens us and that's why Matt Klentak went out and got him," Gabe Kapler said. "It was really important because it does make our lineup deeper. Asdrubal in the middle of our lineup gives us a threat and wears opposing pitchers down even more.

"He's been a great leader already in the clubhouse. Just looks like a guy who's been there and done that and the big situation looks like it fits him very well."

Cabrera batted fifth on Sunday, a spot before Odubel Herrera. Herrera was in the six-spot after batting third for 44 consecutive starts. The switch made sense because Herrera has a .280 on-base percentage since June 25 and Nick Williams has been hot.

Herrera also had a huge hit in the series finale against Miami, a two-strike, two-out, bases-loaded single in a scoreless game to put Nola and the Phillies up two. They eventually gave up that lead, but it was good to see Herrera pick up a confidence-building hit before the road trip. 

"I told Nick that he'd be hitting in the three-hole, I told Odubel that he's going to have opportunities to hit in the three-hole as well," Kapler said. "Six is a very important spot in our lineup as well. 

"All of the sudden our offense is looking like when we click, we're going to give you something."

If there's a nit to pick, it's the Phils' home run reliance of late. Since the All-Star break, they've scored more than 60 percent of their runs via the home run. That's a 20 percent increase from the first half of the season. Against stiffer competition and better starting pitchers who don't leave as many mistakes in the middle as the Marlins, the Phils are going to need to string hits together.

Two of the starting pitchers they'll face this week - Zack Greinke (12-6, 2.96 ERA) on Tuesday and Patrick Corbin (3.31 ERA, 11.1 K/9) on Wednesday - fit into the elite category.

This team's confidence is at a season-high and growing every day. If the Phillies can go out and make a statement in the desert, some added national attention is sure to follow.

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