Schwarber's June boom powering Phillies' surge

Slugger's 23rd career leadoff HR sets the tone in sweep of A's, sixth straight victory

June 19th, 2023

OAKLAND -- 's June dominance has been going on for long enough that it can no longer be called a coincidence --it’s more of a habit.

In 2021, Schwarber hit 16 homers and drove in 30 runs in June. In the same month in '22, he hit 12 homers and logged 27 RBIs. And including the two runs he drove in during the Phillies’ 3-2 win over the A’s on Father’s Day Sunday at the Coliseum, Schwarber now has seven homers and 14 RBIs in June -- with 10 games remaining before the calendar flips to July.

Schwarber doesn’t know why June seems to be the magic month for him, and he wishes it didn’t take him quite this long to heat up. The outfielder/DH slashed .163/.318/.395 in the first two months of the season. What matters most to him is that his hot streak is running right alongside the Phillies' surge. Their six-game winning streak during the now-completed road trip gives them a little boost as they start homestand against two of their three biggest division challengers -- the Braves and Mets.

“Heck, I’m from Ohio, so I should be used to cold weather. So who knows. I wish I didn't start slow, but it's just the reality of it,” Schwarber said. “I think it's just the continuous work that you try to put in each and every single day to be prepared to go out there into the game. I'm a big believer that hitting's a feeling. You can do a lot of mechanical things, but you also have to be ready to go out there and compete.”

Schwarber’s hot streak started right around the time he moved back to the leadoff spot, where he spent most of last year and has a comfort level that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone. Since retaking the top spot on June 2, Schwarber has 10 extra-base hits, including his 24th career leadoff homer, which he recorded on the fourth pitch of Sunday’s win against A's lefty Hogan Harris.

“Schwarb's been hot for us," said starter Zack Wheeler, who threw six scoreless innings on Sunday. "Whenever you can get a nice cushion to lean back on, it allows you to just relax a little bit more out there.”

Schwarber’s 15 leadoff homers in a June are the most in any single month among active players. Jose Altuve has 12 in May, while George Springer has 12 in both April and June.

Of course, Schwarber isn’t solely responsible for the Phillies’ overall June boom. For a team to go 13-4 in a single month, a lot has to go right, and involves just about everyone on the roster. But Schwarber’s contributions have not only been plentiful, they’ve also been timely -- especially on Sunday, when the Phillies were playing without two of their most prominent hitters.

Nick Castellanos missed the final two games of the weekend with a stomach bug, and Bryce Harper was given a routine day off on Sunday, to dovetail with the club’s scheduled off-day on Monday. Schwarber, on the other hand, has played in all 17 of the Phillies’ games in June -- and it’s not a stretch to say they could not have been this dominant this far into the month without him.

“I think there's a fear factor there when he steps to the plate,” manager Rob Thomson said. “First hitter of the game, and it puts the other team on guard. But he's been swinging the bat great. He's been getting on base and doing everything he needs to do. He's obviously a big part of this.”

Schwarber is a little hesitant to talk about himself as a silo, preferring to put his hot June in context with how much everything else around him has also fallen into place.

“That's the thing -- we're playing well as a team, right? That's all I really care about at the end of the day,” he said. “Usually if we're winning, probably everyone on the team's doing pretty good.

“I think that's kind of the big coincider of everything. Don't get me wrong, there's going to be days where I didn't get the job done and someone's going to pick me up, or the pitchers pick us up. We pick up the pitchers, whatever it is. It's part of the game and it's good that we're all kind of doing that right now. And we can all be clicking at the same time right now, too.”