Phils secure winning season but want more

Club guarantees first above-.500 record since 2011 with 82nd win

October 2nd, 2021

MIAMI -- played on Friday night at loanDepot park, despite a school of thought that he might get a break after a rough week in Atlanta and 69 consecutive starts as he tried to keep the Phillies in postseason contention in the second half.

But Harper played. He went 3-for-5 with one double, one home run and two RBIs in a 5-0 victory over the Marlins, giving the Phillies 82 wins and securing their first winning season since 2011. A winning season means something, but certainly it is not everything to Harper and the Phillies. They hoped to make the postseason for the first time in a decade. The Braves dashed those hopes earlier this week when they swept the Phils in Atlanta.

“After those three games, I feel like I let my team down,” said Harper, who went 0-for-11 with one walk and five strikeouts against the Braves. “I feel like I let the city of Philadelphia down. But also with that, we ran into some really good pitching. And sometimes that happens.

“As I sit here now and reflect on that series, you want to put that behind you as quickly as possible. You talk about the first winning season. When I signed up to play here, I wasn’t worried about winning seasons, right? You sit there and you think it’s going to happen, no matter what. You think as a team, as an organization, you build it to be great. As we sit here, we have our first winning season in a long time. And that’s great for the Phillies. But I don’t want it to be like that. I don’t want to just sit here and think to ourselves, ‘Hey, this is great. We have a winning season.’

“Whatever that number is at the end of the year, we need to be better. As a team, as an organization, what we need to get better at, how we need to get better. Looking ourselves in the mirror, wondering as a team, as an organization, what do we want the Phillies to be? How do we want to build it? How good can we be next year?”

Harper feels better about the 2022 rotation after the way Ranger Suárez pitched. Suárez tossed seven scoreless innings on Friday to finish with a 1.36 ERA in 106 innings. It was an amazing season. Only five pitchers in the past 100 years, including the Negro Leagues, have pitched 100 or more innings in a season and posted better than a 1.36 ERA. Bob Gibson (1.12 ERA in 1968), Slim Jones (1.24 ERA in 1934) and Red Munger (1.34 ERA in 1944) are the only pitchers in that group to start at least one game.

“Every time he goes out there, we have an opportunity to win a game,” Harper said. “Every time he goes out there, no moment is too big. If we were going to get into the postseason, he was going to be one of the reasons why we won it. … Of course, Trey Mancini would probably be the American League Comeback Player of the Year. But my National League pick would definitely be Ranger Suárez. He wasn’t able to pitch last year because of COVID. He got wiped up pretty much all year last year. For him to come back and do his job like he did for us, I have no higher praise for him. He did an incredible job, and I see him getting better. I see him being one of the top guys in our rotation going forward.”