1. What will Nick Williams’ playing time be?
The highly-touted outfielder finally got his call-up to the big leagues a few weeks prior to the all-star break. In 10 games, he posted a .281 average with a homer. It was nothing to get too excited about, but he certainly didn’t look out of place. The question that remains for the second half will be what Williams’ usage is the rest of the way. For the fans’ sake, Williams should be an everyday guy along with fellow youngster, Aaron Altherr. The platoon should be with Odubel Herrera and Howie Kendrick (until his likely trade). It’s also nice to see Williams bat in the fifth spot, where he spent six of his 10 games, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him slide up to third in the order more often if he proves to be a guy who can get on base.
2. Can we expect a turnaround from Maikel Franco?
A major disappointment in the first half was Franco’s performance. He sits at a .217 average and a .274 on-base percentage. That’s simply not good enough for a guy whose supposed to be a major producer in the lineup. He’s not off to a strong start in July, either, batting .200 in the nine games before the break. He’ll need to break out of that funk or else there will be talk about what to make of him moving forward; in fact, there’s already speculation he could be on the block come the trade deadline.
3. Will Aaron Nola keep rising?
To start, Nola opened 2-0 and looked to be finding his groove, but then came a frustrating May that saw him go 0-3 with a 5.63 ERA. He’s been a different pitcher since, though, especially in his last two starts. He went into the break with a 1.20 ERA and 17 strikeouts to just three walks in those final two outings. For a team where wins (and quality starts) are absent, Nola’s re-emergence is a welcomed sight. It’ll be a matter of if he can sustain that consistency, something he hasn’t quite done throughout his career.
4. Which prospects can we expect up in the second half?
It’s too tough to predict which guys get the call when the rosters expand September — players like Jorge Alfaro and Roman Quinn will certainly be among the group. If the team keeps up the poor play in July and August, however, will someone like Scott Kingery or Rhys Hoskins get the call-up before September? It seems more likely that Hoskins would get a shot over Kingery. During the Futures Game, Hoskins told reporters that “I’m ready” to play in the big leagues; the confidence is there, now it’s a matter of when not if. Unfortunately, the Phillies lean more conservative in their handling of prospects. That being said, it may just be too hard to keep Hoskins down in Triple-A for another month.
5. Just how bad can this thing get?
This is a question fans hate to ask, but it’s looking more and more like this Phillies team is headed for the worst record in baseball as things don’t appear to be getting better anytime soon. Their 29 wins are the fewest in baseball with the next closest being San Francisco with 34. At the pace they’re going, the Phillies are flirting with 108-110 losses, which would come awfully close to their worst season ever when they lost 111 games in 1941.