Could it be that the Philadelphia Phillies only need a few tweaks?

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 12: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on after striking out against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning in game two of the National League Division Series at Truist Park on October 12, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 12: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on after striking out against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning in game two of the National League Division Series at Truist Park on October 12, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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With the All-Star break upon us, it is time for the Philadelphia Phillies to consider needs to put themselves on a firm path past a projected 89 or 90 wins. This year the Fightin’s, one of MLB’s most expensive teams, need to show some improvement over last year’s regular season.

Making recommendations for a team that’s honestly doing pretty well, given their slow start, is not that easy, but let’s start with possible internal moves.

What do the Phillies need to do in the way of tweaks to ensure a playoff spot?

One, consider starting Cristopher Pache in left field at least against left-handed pitchers. And possibly more often. Do a deep analytic dive as well into his numbers against some right-handers who are scheduled. The guy is literally leading the Phillies in hitting (.326 in limited plate appearances), and has been hot on the current Florida road trip.

Pache is also an excellent defensive outfielder.

Two, consider promoting Simon Muzziotti for spot starts at least when the incumbent left-fielder needs a day off, and particularly at home. And, again, possibly more often. Muzziotti is hitting .345 at Lehigh Valley in 72 games.

Sense a common theme so far? Who is the incumbent left fielder?

Right. Kyle Schwarber, the defending NL home run champ, a sub-.200 hitting specialist, and terrible defensive player. Well, you say, wouldn’t that be messing with the Phillies “team chemistry?” Isn’t Schwarbs now intimately associated with Phillies leadership?

Doesn’t a local convenience-store chain honor him with a special hoagie or hoagie event?

Might not Schwarbs use three days off or maybe 10 in a row, considering the All-Star break, to work with hitting coach Kevin Long on the home run champ’s tendency (now) to chase balls out of the strike zone?

Yeah. He’s hitting .187 after play July 8. Give it some thought, but right away. If Muzziotti starts off 0-for-15, can the experiment. Continue to consider Pache as above.

Next, although the Phillies bullpen has pitched very well lately, it too might be tweaked. Both Yunior Marte and Seranthony Dominguez have pitched more poorly than expected, particularly Dominguez, considering his past performances.

While great praise has been heaped on Marte’s “stuff,” the right-hander has pitched better than he did last year for the Giants in 2022 by only the slimmest of margins. His ERA is 5.24 and his WHIP 1.433 — improvements of 0.20 and 0.005, respectively, again after play July 8.

Dominguez, who has been most impressive in the past but is now on the 15-day IL, has just seemed off this year. And his ERA (4.33) and WHIP (1.556) reflect that. The right-handed fireballer signed a two-year extension in February worth $7 million. He could use a tune-up at Lehigh Valley, and better now than later.

Who could replace one or both of them? Current IronPigs Jeremy Walker and Andrew Bellatti seemingly deserve chances to prove their worth before the season moves on.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 right-hander who has been used as an opener and reliever, has only pitched in six MLB games, in 2019 for the Braves. His current triple-A ERA is 3.45 and his WHIP 1.356. While a 2020 scouting report tagged him with an evaluation that read “Up/Down Emergency Depth,” the guy is 28. Maybe the Phillies should give him a shot. He’s at an age that should need no motivational push beyond a promotion.

As recently as July 4, Walker threw 2.1 Triple-A innings — 40 pitches, 24 strikes.

Bellatti, who is 31, pitched well for the Phillies last year (3.31 ERA in 59 games). He too may deserve at least another quick look, but in this month.

Would Trader Dave Dombrowski want to consider other changes for the Phillies at the trade deadline? Maybe so. But the team seems to mostly need tweaking. The starting talent is already there for the most part.

Next. Grading Philadelphia's front office through the season's first half. dark