The Phillies are quite excited to have their first taste of postseason success in over a decade, and have moved quickly to lock up a key ingredient. Not a pitcher or a hitter, but rather the Phils announced a two-year contract extension with Manager Rob Thomson on Monday.
The 59-year-old Thomson replaced lameduck former skipper Joe Girardi in early June, and immediately turned things around for a foundering Phillies club. The team had gone 22-29 under the hapless Girardi, but found new life under Thomson’s leadership, finishing the year with a 65-46 record from then on. That tremendous showing vaulted a once-lifeless squad into the playoff race, and ultimately led to a postseason berth as the third and final wildcard team.
The Phillies entered their first postseason series since 2011 this past weekend, and rolled over the St. Louis Cardinals with two straight wins. Friday gave us a miraculous 6-3 come-from-behind victory, while Saturday night’s pitchers’ duel ended in a 2-0 Phillies win to send the team on to the NLDS. They’ll take on the Braves in Atlanta in a best-of-five series starting on Tuesday night.
While the majority of Phillies fans had called for Joe Girardi’s head since the start of the season, no one could have expected the kind of success his replacement would have. The Phillies held a lousy .431 winning percentage during Girardi’s reign, and a return just to .500 baseball seemed like quite a tall order. However, Thomson’s steady hand led not just to a return to relevancy, but much more, as the Phils posted a terrific .586 winning percentage under his tutelage.
Thomson was initially named only the interim manager, with a more exhaustive search for a long term replacement set to begin in the offseason. However, the Canadian’s unprecedented success firmly entrenched him in the pilot’s seat indefinitely, and he’ll now enjoy a guaranteed contract through the 2024 season.
Rob Thomson has been a baseball man his entire life, first starting out as a player in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system, and then working his way through the New York Yankees’ coaching ranks. He eventually would become the bench coach and right hand man to Joe Girardi on the way to a 2009 World Series win and plenty of playoff success. He followed Girardi to Philadelphia in 2020 and served as the Phillies’ bench coach up until his ascension to the big chair.
It remains to be seen how far the Phillies will go in October, as they face a tough road through the playoffs. Whether they bow out in the NLDS or go all the way to a parade on Broad Street, this season is an unmitigated success. What began as another pathetic campaign ended with the happiest season in over a decade, and that’s in no small part to the no longer interim Manager Rob Thomson.