Phillies

Phillies' offense having serious power outage

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Phillies' offense having serious power outage

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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Not just injuries or bad luck, this Phillies team 1 through 25 isn’t good enough

Not just injuries or bad luck, this Phillies team 1 through 25 isn’t good enough

This many games into the season a year ago, Jean Segura was hitting .344. 

He finished Sunday's loss at .268.

Through this many games in 2018, J.T. Realmuto was hitting .312 with an OPS over .900.

He struck out in the ninth inning Sunday and is down to .260 with a .743 OPS — 10 percent below the league average.

Cesar Hernandez's on-base percentage was 42 points higher at this point in the season a year ago.

The list goes on and on and on and on. The Phillies are underperforming. Offensively, defensively, starting rotation, bullpen. This does not look like the 90-win team many projected it to be. Some of that is due to injuries but more of it has been caused by players falling short of expectations.

The Phillies lost 6-4 on Sunday to the Marlins (see observations). They were out-hit 16-4. They were embarrassed this weekend by a team that opened the season with a $72 million payroll. 

It was the first time since August 2009 the Phillies have been swept at home by the Marlins, who were still the Florida Marlins back then. 

The deficit in the NL East just continues to grow — it's now at 6½ games with the Braves beating the Nationals Sunday.

"It's not good," Bryce Harper said. "We're just getting beat on both sides of the ball, pitching, hitting, everything. We have to do everything we can. We have to battle. Doesn't matter the count, who we're facing, if it's the Miami Marlins or L.A. Dodgers."

Over the last 35 games, the Marlins are 18-17. The Phillies are 15-20. We're talking more than a month of the schedule.

The hard truth right now is that the Phillies just are not that good. Their current roster, 1 through 25, is not as talented or as deep as the current rosters of the Braves and Nationals.

Switching hitting coaches won't magically transform this offense. Moving Scott Kingery up to the leadoff spot won't spark this lineup to new heights. Up and down the batting order, the Phillies simply need more from their everyday players. Harper needs to hit for more power. Segura needs to find the stroke he had for most of the last 3½ seasons. Realmuto needs to be the middle-of-the-order bat the Phillies thought they were acquiring. The bench players — whether it's Roman Quinn or Andrew Knapp or Sean Rodriguez or Maikel Franco — need to get a hit once in a while.

"I'm absolutely certain of it," Kapler said when asked if he's seen any reasons to believe guys like Segura and Realmuto can get back to their career norms.

"It would shock me if Jean Segura didn't get to his normal numbers by the end of the season. And it would shock me if J.T. didn't as well. Both those guys are skilled, athletic hitters. We don't look at stretches that bring our batting averages down by even 50 points because we know that happens over the course of a season. And we know that Jean Segura over the last three years is a .300 hitter. So we know that he's going to be somewhere in that neighborhood at the end of the year. 

"It's not a sure thing. It's not like you can chalk it up, but that's what we bet on. That's what we do when we acquire great players. We say there's going to be tough times. I'm not going to quit on our players in tough times. We're going to trust them to be who they are. That's what this game is all about. It's ebbs and flows. It's times of sh---y performance and times of successes and we get together as a group in the tough times. We fight together. That's what we're doing right now."

What if this team, as presently constructed, is not good enough to fight out of it? The goal, after all, is an NL East crown, not a one-game wild-card berth. 

It’s a question many in the city are asking and one the Phillies' front office is certainly asking itself in private moments.

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Marlins 6, Phillies 4: We can safely call this Phillies' lowest point of 2019 season

Marlins 6, Phillies 4: We can safely call this Phillies' lowest point of 2019 season

BOX SCORE

It doesn't get much worse than this. The reeling Phillies were swept at home by the Marlins for the first time in 10 years.

We can safely call this the Phillies' lowest point of the season.

Sunday's 6-4 loss — which saw the Phillies out-hit 16-4 — was their seventh straight defeat. They have just one win since June 11, when they were tied with the Braves.

This is the first time the Phillies have been swept at home by the Marlins since Aug. 7-9, 2009.

At 39-38, the Phils have their worst record since they were 13-12. They have spent every day this season over .500.

During this rough month of June, the Braves have separated themselves from the Phillies in the division, building a lead of 6½ games.

The Phils are in the midst of playing 25 consecutive games against the NL East. So far, they are 1-8. On the season, they are 16-17 against the NL East.

Next up is a four-game home series against the Mets, followed by a nine-game road trip to Miami, Atlanta and New York that closes out the first half.

Spot start for De Los Santos

Needing a sixth starter because of the two rainouts earlier this week in D.C., the Phillies turned to 23-year-old right-hander Enyel De Los Santos, who made two starts last season.

De Los Santos did not deliver the clutch start the Phillies needed, allowing eight of the first 12 batters he faced to reach base and surrendering four runs over four innings. 

De Los Santos put the leadoff man on in all four innings and three of them came around to score. He did induce three double plays, which helped him avoid an even rockier outing.

The Phils have been hesitant to use De Los Santos in this role, seemingly preferring him as a reliever because of his lack of consistent secondary pitches. Because of all the injuries to the Phillies' bullpen, De Los Santos had been used out of the bullpen the previous two times he was called up this season. 

Expect to see him optioned back to Triple A Lehigh Valley either tonight or tomorrow.

Actual first-inning runs

The Phillies have been horrid in the first inning since Andrew McCutchen's season-ending injury on June 3, hitting .103 with a grand total of four runs in 16 first innings entering Sunday's game.

In the opening frame Sunday, Marlins rookie right-hander Jordan Yamamoto walked the first three batters he faced and two scored on Jean Segura's two-run single.

It's not just the loss of McCutchen stagnating this offense. It's also the fact that the Phillies have gotten very little out of the Maikel Franco-Cesar Hernandez-Odubel Herrera trio, and that their only everyday player who has outperformed his career rates is Rhys Hoskins. (This excludes Scott Kingery, who had only the shaky rookie year to measure against.)

Up next

The Mets come to town for a four-game series. Noah Syndergaard (hamstring) is not currently listed among the Mets' pitching probables for the series but could be activated Wednesday.

Monday night at 7:05 — Zach Eflin (6-7, 2.83) vs. LHP Steven Matz (5-5, 4.28)

Tuesday night at 7:05 — Jake Arrieta (6-6, 4.12) vs. Walker Lockett (0-1, 23.14)

Wednesday night at 7:05 — Nick Pivetta (4-2, 5.54) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (3-3, 3.75)

Thursday afternoon at 1:05 — Aaron Nola (6-2, 4.55) vs. Zack Wheeler (6-5, 4.69)