So, let’s recap. Last year, the Phils started and played above expectations before imploding in the last month or so. This year, they started hot again and imploded mid-season. Maybe next year they’ll just crap the bed right from day 1 and vie us all our summer to enjoy ourselves.
The Phils went out west and put a giant exclamation on this years collapse as they lost 5 of 7 and fell to 4th place in the East. Yes, that’s fourth place…as in behind the Mets who were double digits out just 2 months ago.
After Vince Velasquez had one of his best outings of the year to give the Phils a series opening win in Arizona, the bullpen gave away game 2 and the offense had already left for San Fran in game 3. The early departure didn’t help as they were shutout in game 1 in San Fran extending their losing streak to 3 games. It likely would have been 4 (and eventually 6) had it not been for a Bryce Harper offensive explosion…one we haven’t seen as often as we’d hoped for. Game 3 was another “offensively challenged” outing as Cory Dickerson provided the only offense of the game with a solo homer in the first before they were shut down the rest of the way. To put a pretty bow on things, the Phils came out early on Sunday and gave Jake Arrieta a 3 run lead in the 3rd inning. He promptly gave it back in the bottom of the 3rd and was done after that inning. After the Giants took the lead in the 6th, the Phils battle back to tie it in the 8th before the bullpen imploded yet again. Of course, this all happened after the Phils left them loaded AGAIN in the 7th inning as Rhys Hoskins popped up with 2 outs. It’s hard to imagine 1 team leaving as many men on base as the Phils have in the last 2 weeks but sadly, there is plenty of visual evidence out there. So, when all was said and done, the Phils managed to get 2 wins on the road and complete their fall by dropping a full game behind the Mets.
They don’t have any with the exception of the newly acquired Dickerson who was 7-22 with a triple, 2 HR’s and 6 RBI. Harper provided 3 HR and 7 RBI. Unfortunately, 2 and 4, respectively came in one game. In order to be straight, Rhys Hoskins is the biggest issue with this team right now. Kapler has tried him everyone from the 2-5 spots of late and nothing is working. He hit .083 on the road trip with no RBI and he’s hitting .186 since the AS break with just 10 RBI and 24 K’s. That is not what you need from one of your cornerstones when you are in the middle of a free fall. If that’s what he’s giving you, it’s time for a rest or time to get him out of the heart of your lineup where he’s currently a rally killer. Klentak and Kapler had no problem demoting Maikel Franco. They have no problem keeping guys like Sean Rodriguez on the roster. They had no problem sending one of their hotter hitters of late, Adam Haseley, back to Lehigh (regardless of the fact he never left San Fran) to activate Jay Bruce for all of 3 AB’s. They need to start thinking about what’s best for the team and right now, that’s not having Hoskins anywhere near the top 4 of the lineup.
Velasquez and Arrieta each started 2 games this week. Between them…20 innings. Yup, that’s a whopping 5 innings per start which is inflated by VV’s 7 inning start last Monday. The remaining startes for the week? 15.2 innings between Drew Smyly, Jason Vargas and Aaron Nola. For those doing the math at home, that’s 58 possible innings over 7 games and the starters combined for just 35.2 of them. I will give Arrieta a it of credit for toughing out his injury but if that’s all he’s got, then just send him off for surgery because those 4-5 innings aren’t going to win games if the bullpen constantly has to pitch 4-5 innings after him…and every other starter not names Aaron Nola. The staff has been riddled by injuries and misuse and it’s imploding in front of our very eyes with no relief in site.
Around the N.L. East
Braves– The week was supposed to start tough for the Braves then get easy. It didn’t. They overpowered the powerful Twins and took 2 of 3 in Minny before heading to Miami and splitting a four game set with the Marlins. This week, it’s a return home to face the surging Mets and the N.L. leading Dodgers for 3 games each.
Nationals– Things started well with a 3 game sweep in San Fran before they went to New York and lost 2 of 3. This week it’s a trip home for 3 each with the new look Reds and the Brewers. After fending off the Phillies, the Mets are now right on their heels.
Mets– The Mets have run off 16 wins in their last 20 and are the hottest team in the majors. After a 4 game sweep of the Marlins, the Nats ended their 8 game win streak on Sunday. This week they head on the road to face the division leading Braves. They’ll finish off the week with 3 in Kansas City. If their hot streak continues in Atlanta and KC, they can make this division really interesting.
Marlins-First the Mets beat them up and then they somehow split 4 with the Braves. This week the Dodgers come to town to start the week then it’s a road trip to Colorado. Oh, and they are still 24.5 games out in the division.
The Phils get some more home cooking which is important considering how dreadful they’ve been on the road. First up the Cubs come in for 3 game having won 7 of 10.
Jason Vargas (6-6, 4.09) starts things off against Jose Quintana 10-7, 4.23) on Tuesday. Wednesday night is the battle of the current and former aces. Aaron Nola (10-3, 3.67) goes head to head with Cole Hamels (6-3, 3.09). Drew Smyly (2-6, 6.96) closes out the series against Yu Darvish (4-6, 4.43). If the Phils can get out of that series without hitting a double digit deficit, next up is the Padres.
Velasquez, Arrieta (for now- he’s meeting with the coaching staff on Tuesday to discus his elbow and options) and Vargas will get the honors over the weekend against the Padres’ Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet and Joey Lucchesi.
The Phils are 4-7 in August and don’t seem to have any answers other than “hit a bunch of HR’s and hope we score more than the other team”. That’s not going to work in a (theoretical) pennant/Wild Card race. Matt Klentak has brought in a bunch of arms that were available for a reason. Gabe Kapler has tried multiple lineup changes (Jean Segura as cleanup? Really?). Virtually nothing has worked. The only thing that Kapler has overseen in his 2 years are back to back collapses. He’s a stat guy. He’s a hugger. Think back 12 years when everyone was calling for Charlie Manuel’s head. Every time he came under public fire, his team stood up for him. You don’t hear that from this team. They talk about how they have to be better (very true statement) but they don’t go out of their way to mention how he’s the right guy to lead them. Someone upstairs has to see that and make the right move.
In the meantime, since nothing drastic is likely to happen at this point since they are theoretically still in the Wild Card hunt, let’s just hope that they can play something resembling good baseball and make the last month and a half interesting.