The Phillies are off to their best start since 2011 and looking like contenders

Central to the Phillies' interleague win over the Orioles on Wednesday (PHI 4, BAL 1) was 25-year-old righty Nick Pivetta, who whiffed 11 batters in seven innings of work ... 

On the offensive side of things, second baseman Cesar Hernandez homered and tripled. He's now running a .383 OBP on the season. 

What's most important is that the win means that the Phillies are at least eight games over .500 for the first time since late in the 2011 season. (That year, they won 102 games before being upset by the Cardinals in the NLDS.) At 24-16, the team is also off to their best start since going 25-15 in both 2010 and 2011.

At the moment, the Phillies are just a half-game behind the Braves in the NL East. The SportsLine (@SportsLine on Twitter) Projection Model right now tabs them with 85 wins (likely enough to put them in the mix for a wild-card spot) and gives them roughly a one-in-three chance of making the postseason. Keep winning, and those numbers are going to improve. 

In all it's been a pretty balanced attack for Gabe Kapler's club, as they rank fifth in the NL in runs scored and first in fewest runs allowed. Their strong record is backed up by a plus-42 run differential. Look at the BaseRuns standings available at FanGraphs, which correct for some of the sequencing and clustering effects inherent in run differential, and the Phillies have similarly earned that 24-16 record at the plate-appearance level. All of this is to say, there's nothing about the 2018 Phillies that suggests they're getting by on luck as opposed to being, you know, a genuinely good team. They've also done all that against one of the NL's toughest schedules to date. 

Throw in the nice roster balance of young upside and veteran certainty (perhaps best embodied by the enviable rotation one-two punch of Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola), and you've got a team that's probably going to remain in contention over the long haul. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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