The Phillies will exit the All-Star Break on Friday in third place in the NL East with a record of 47-43 after 90 games. Where do they go from here? Well, oddsmakers at Caesars Entertainment have their opinion, and it's not promising.
First, let's take a look at where we started. Here's what the Vegas win totals looked like after the Phillies signed Bryce Harper in March.
Now, just past the midway point, here are the current win totals you can wager over or under on.
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Let's figure out what happened here.
Flat out, the Braves are much better than Vegas thought they would be. I think everyone expected the lineup to be good, but perhaps not this good. Josh Donaldson has been crushing the ball after a slow start, Austin Riley is having a tremendous rookie season and everyone else has continued the success they displayed last season.
What has been surprising, however, is the way the Braves have been pitching. While Mike Soroka was expected to be good, no one had him in the All-Star Game in his first year. Julio Teheran has been a workhorse, Max Fried has been more than serviceable and Luke Jackson has been a tremendous closer. The team also went out and signed Dallas Keuchel, who could prove to be a very strong addition in the second half.
A team that has been relatively healthy all season long projects to continue their strong first half and win the NL East.
The Nationals lost Harper and Daniel Murphy from their Opening Day lineup last year, but still have quite a formidable stable of hitters. Juan Soto is proving to be one of the best young bats in the league, Anthony Rendon is putting up the kind of numbers to get himself a massive payday and even former Phillie Howie Kendrick has been really good this year. The Nationals absorbed a tremendous amount of injuries early on to be one of the hottest teams in baseball at the break.
The Nationals also have one of the best rotations in the NL. Max Scherzer is displaying more Cy Young stuff, Stephen Strasburg has been consistently good and offseason acquisition Patrick Corbin has been as advertised. If the middle of the bullpen can improve, the Nationals could fight the Braves for the division.
After making a number of additions to help the offense, the Phillies hoped they'd be able to outslug their opponents in 2019, that hasn't happened. Nearly everyone, except Scott Kingery and Rhys Hoskins, has underperformed and the loss of Andrew McCutchen has left a gaping hole at the top of the order.
The Phillies arms have been decimated by injury, too. Guys like David Robertson, Pat Neshek and Seranthony Dominguez were expected to anchor the bullpen. Starters Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez have severely underperformed. The Phillies have regressed and it's beginning to look a lot like 2018.
Last season, the Phillies entered the All-Star Break at 53-42 and went 27-40 the rest of the way. Are you sure that can't happen this season, too?
For the Phillies to hit the over, the offense will have to heat up, which it certainly could, and the arms will have to stabilize. As Corey Seidman pointed out (see story), it might not make too much sense to give up prospects to get better this season, the Phillies are in it for the long haul, and the other teams in the NL might be more aggressive at the deadline.
So, is 82.5 as harsh as it looks? Probably not. It feels right. If the Phillies continue on the path they're on, they'll go under. If the bats heat up and the arms stabilize and get healthy, they could smash the over by mid-September.