Yes the Philadelphia Phillies won the final game of the series against the Colorado Rockies, and there were a few positives which I will touch on later in this post, but there is no way to sugarcoat the bitter pill the Philadelphia Phillies dosed us with against the Colorado Rockies these last four games.
The Phils continued their “2017 Cy Young Nomination Tour”, as their suddenly anemic offense, which was so good in April, made the most extraordinarily ordinary hurlers look like award winners. Not that the Rockies, one of the best offenses and defenses in MLB, needed any help.
This post will be a bit of a departure, contrary to my usual stepford posidelphian leanings, as I will hilite – or should that be lowlite – what has been ailing this team lately, instead of detailing each game.
Poor Starting Pitching and Unclutchable Offense:
The first three games were very similar in tone in the way it seemed like the Rockies had a man on every inning. For the series they did reach base 28 out of 38 innings. The fourth game was a bit different as though they continued to get on, they did not capitalize like they did in the past games, going 0-7 with RISP.
The first three Phillies starters gave up 8, 4, and 7 earned runs while the Rockies 1, 1, and 0. Only Vince Velasquez found a way to shut down the Rockies offense, but he only went 5 innings.
Meanwhile the Phillies would go 2-22 with RISP. That low percentage of scoring when they could, coupled with the bad luck that happens to bad teams, made the first three games uncompetitive from the start.
For example in the opener, Aaron Nola was unscathed through the first two innings, but in the third a single went right by Nola’s glove, then a blooper sailed inches over the leaping Freddy Galvis. After a sac bunt, a soft liner landed just inside LF line for 2 runs. Another single made for a 3 spot on the board. In the second game, the Phillies loaded the bases three times, albeit two with two outs and one of those with the pitcher at bat. Still their only run of the game came on a bases loaded walk. Of course as so often happens the Rockies scored after two of those failed attempts.
Going into the Finale the Phillies had lost five in a row and 20 of their last 24, earning the worst record in MLB. By the end of that game, even on a W, they had been outscored 24-7, and were just .002 ahead of San Diego – one less W, but two less L – for thebottom of the barrel.
Trevor Story‘s HR in the 4th inning Thursday, meant that the Phillies have allowed six 0-2 count home runs and 25 two-strike home runs overall, both of which are the most in MLB. They have given up 68 HRs, 4th worst in MLB, and tied with the Cincinatti Reds for worst in the NL.
Velasquez exit after five made it the 45th straight game in which no Phillies starter would get an out beyond the 7th inning. That would be another dubious team record to start a season.
In the series they were outscored 24-7. We knew coming in that the Colorado offense was real good and there is no shame to giving up some runs to them. The galling part is the way the Phillies could not score themselves against not exactly the Atlanta Braves 90’s staff.
So What’s Wrong With The Phillies?
I am not in the locker room after the games or on the field during practices so I cannot claim to have any inside info as to how the players feel or go about their business. I can only go by what I hear and read that this team gets along well together and with their manager, and there does not appear to be, from what I watch on TV and from my perch in 423 where I was on Wednesday, any lack of effort as we have seen from some of these teams in the past
To risk being a spoiler, the problems with this team, is like the solution to Murder On The Orient Express. Everybody dunnit.
It’s The Coaches:
I do believe that the coaches have not always gotten through to the players as to how they want them to play the game, and I also think Manager Pete Mackanin in an effort to rest guys and get more players involved may be over tinkering with the lineup at times. I especially did not agree with sitting Maikel Franco 2 games in a row, one game after an 8 game hit streak ended.
It’s The Players:
Ultimately though it is up to the players to use the tools they have and the guidance the staff gives them to use those tools. Yes this is overall a young group, and the vets they brought in have either been injured or not lived up to their “professional hitter” billing.
They showed they can do the job early in the season, but they seem to have almost en-masse lost confidence in themselves which leads to other players not having confidence in them. The offense is trying too hard to overcome the hole they have been put in to start games (the run to win the game Thursday was the first lead of the series), and the pitchers have little faith the offense will score a ton of runs, so they are always trying to make the perfect pitch instead of sticking with the game pan.
Like hitting, that can be contagious.
It is always up for debate as the whether it is the coaches job to re-instill that confidence in the players or whether these men who earn millions of dollars to play this game, should be able to motivate themselves.
Time will tell if this 2017 team can figure it out.
To end on a postive note there are two areas that are good to see during this tough stretch
Tommy Joseph has overcome a terrible April where he was batting .179 and .254 SLG to end the month and only 1 HR. In May though he has matched his monthly career high of 6 HR, and is batting .329, .671 SLG to raise the avg to .255, and SLG to .467. His sixth HR of the month tied the game on Thursday, and he walked it off with a single in the 11th.
The other positive is the Pen which after Thursday’s 6 innings, have a 13 inning scoreless streak going. The return of Jeanmar Gomez will give Mackanin a bit more versatility on the back end. Even the much derided Adam Morgan (who was sent back down to make room for Gomez) put up three scoreless on Wednesday.
Another versatile piece that Pete will have to work with soon is INF/OF Howie Kendrick, who started a rehab assignment with AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on Wednesday.
The Cincinatti Reds come to town for a weeekend series and will see all RHP’s on the hill.
Aaron Nola (2-1, 3.52) Vs. Tim Adleman (2-2, 6.19)
Jerad Eickhoff (0-5, 4.70) Vs. Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 6.75)
Zach Eflin (0-2, 5.36) Vs. Scott Feldman (3-4, 3.99)
The first two games, on paper, give a chance for the offense to prove they can hit mediocre pitching again.