Perennially, as the weather warmed in late spring in Philadelphia, former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had a term for this time of year: Hittin’ season. Phillies fans in 2019 are still waiting for hittin’ season to open.
In a league where home runs are valuable currency, the Phillies’ offense right now is broke. Andrew McCutchen’s eighth-inning home run Wednesday was the team’s 15th in the month of May. Only the Marlins have fewer this month (eight).
Odubel Herrera hasn’t homered since April 8, a span of 26 games. Maikel Franco hasn’t homered in 21 games. Rhys Hoskins hasn’t gone yard in 14 games. JT Realmuto has two in his last 20 games. Bryce Harper’s two long-distance shots this past weekend are reason for hope, but he has just three in his last 23 games.
The offense stormed out of the gate to open the season, averaging nearly six runs a game, mashing 29 homers, and logging a team OPS of .800. Since then, there’s been a serious drop-off:
• First 20 games: Team BA — .261, Runs/G — 5.8, HR/G 1.4, Team OPS — .800
• Last 29 games: Team BA — .232, Runs/G — 4.3, HR/G 0.8, Team OPS — .689
Despite the power outage, the Phils have a winning record over their last 29 games (16-13) thanks to some strong pitching performances.
Without much power to rely on off the bench, manager Gabe Kapler has tried to get most of the regulars a day off here and there. But it doesn’t seem to be enough to this point. Harper has sat out just 13 innings this season entering Thursday’s series finale against the Cubs. Four other regulars (Hoskins, McCutchen, Franco and Cesar Hernandez) have played in 48 of the team’s 49 games.
They have already had a run of 17 games in 17 days in April, and are currently in the middle of another 17-in-17 run. Another similar scheduling run looms in June.
Whether it’s rest for the middle of the lineup or another heat wave in the forecast, the Phillies need a way to crank up the wattage if they want to continue to lead the pack in the NL East.
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