PHILADELPHIA -- Four times on the Phillies’ recent six-game road trip, Nick Castellanos homered. Twice, he was asked if he felt he was swinging the bat well following his recent struggles.
Twice, he replied it was for others to decide.
Well, Castellanos is swinging the bat well with nine games to play. He went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs in Thursday night’s 5-4 victory over the Mets at Citizens Bank Park, giving the Phillies a three-game lead over Arizona for the No. 1 NL Wild Card. Castellanos is batting .364 (12-for-33) with six homers, 14 RBIs and a 1.298 OPS in his past nine games.
He started the night with 99 RBIs. He finished with a career-high 103.
“To get 100 RBIs, that means that you’re taking a lot of at-bats, you’re playing a lot of games and you’re driving in a lot of guys,” Castellanos said. “I think the two stats for me personally that I care about the most is how many times you touch home, and how many times you help other people touch home.”
Everybody knows about Castellanos’ struggles last year. This year, he batted .316 with 12 home runs, 54 RBIs and an .874 OPS through July 2, when he made the NL All-Star team. He yo-yoed after that. He batted .122 with a .349 OPS in 22 games from July 4-30. He batted .293 with an .860 OPS in 27 games in August. He batted .103 with a .329 OPS from Sept. 1-8.
On Sept. 9, Phillies manager Rob Thomson hit Castellanos eighth for the first time since his second full season with Detroit in 2015. He has not hit higher than sixth since then. But Castellanos rebounded yet again, becoming the first Phillies player with 100 RBIs in a season since Bryce Harper’s 114 in 2019.
“It’s getting back to my foundation, just the things that I do every day,” Castellanos said. “The mindset of just control what I can control, and believe it’s going to be good in the end if I just stay consistent.”
He could soon have company. Kyle Schwarber has 99 RBIs. The Phillies haven’t had two players with 100-plus RBIs in a season since Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in 2008.
Alec Bohm hit a solo homer in the third inning Thursday. He has 18 homers and 93 RBIs. He will need a big week to reach 100 RBIs, but if he does, it would be the first time the Phillies have had three players with 100-plus RBIs in a season since Utley, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell in 2005.
“Bohm is a very good baseball player, and he’s a very good hitter,” Castellanos said. “The fact that he has grown playing here in Philadelphia -- which I can say is not the easiest place to play, because I’ve played in other places -- he’s a stud, man. And from where he came from in the beginning of last year when I first put on a Phillies uniform, to see the spot where he was at and now to see where he is, it’s incredible.”
Castellanos and Bohm have helped Philadelphia bounce back offensively from a slow start. From Opening Day through June 2, when the Phillies were just 25-32, they ranked 23rd in baseball with a .703 OPS against left-handed pitching. But from June 3 through Wednesday, they ranked fifth in baseball with an .818 OPS against left-handers.
Bohm has a .994 OPS against lefties in that span. Castellanos comes in at .959.
“Rhys [Hoskins] going down even before we started the season, we knew guys were going to have to pick up some of that production,” Bohm said. “It wasn’t going to be one guy. I felt like I could chip in the way that I have, which is having good at-bats with runners in scoring position.”
It has figured into the Phillies averaging 4.91 runs per game, the team’s best mark in a non-pandemic-shortened season since 2009 (5.06 runs per game).
“It means we have a lot of good baseball players here playing for the Phillies,” Castellanos said.