WASHINGTON -- It’s over now, all the hi-jinks, waves and hand-slapping put to rest.
The team of the offseason has been eliminated from postseason consideration. Philadelphia is out following a Tuesday afternoon 4-1 loss in Washington. It has to go 3-3 over the final six games just to be a winning club by season's end.
“We’re going to have plenty of time to reflect on the fact we didn’t get to the postseason, which was the goal and the only thing that we thought about all season long,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’ll get there. We’ll get to that moment of reflection. It felt some sting already, I think we’re going to continue to feel some sting.”
The anchor of Philadelphia’s offseason swell in expectations and season-ticket sales was the signing of Bryce Harper for $330 million. His free agency pursuit careened through the winter until it was finally settled in spring, Harper landing with a division rival which drove the Phillies’ payroll toward the top 10 in the league. Boisterous chatter and marketing and chants of, “We got Harper!” followed.
He went 1-for-4 Tuesday, and was not available postgame during a brief open clubhouse session typical of the time between a split doubleheader (he was expected to speak following the second game). Harper’s OPS is .872 -- trailing last season’s .889 -- and his season will end Sunday because of teamwide under-performance, injuries and dubious roster construction.
Losing Andrew McCutchen on June 3 crashed the Phillies’ outfield options. Multiple bullpen members were hurt throughout the season. The organization also made the tactical error of investing little in starting pitching. Once Aaron Nola took a step back for most of the season, the entire rotation found trouble. Philadelphia entered the day 13th in the 15-team National League in starting pitcher ERA.
“I think it’s a lot of things, honestly,” Rhys Hoskins said when asked to pinpoint the Phillies’ failings. “We haven’t been as consistent of a team as we hoped throughout the year. Obviously we pitched well throughout the year and we’ve hit throughout the year, but they never seemed to sync up for a long period of time. I guess that’s what I’d pin it on.”
Philadelphia also flailed in the end of last season. Back-to-back flops have put Kapler’s job status in question.
“We have games to play left, and, like I said, there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to reflect,” Kapler said. “I love this organization, I love this team specifically. I love working for this front office. I love working for this ownership group. And, look, I’m going to manage this club as long as I can because I think I give us a great chance to win, and I think because I care deeply about the success of this franchise.”
So, that’s where the Phillies are Sept. 24. Their season will end without a playoff appearance. Harper received a rare night off because whether the team wins no matter influences this year. Kapler’s job security is waffling.
All the offseason noise quietly ended during a mid-afternoon makeup game.
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