September 12, 2018
Baseball is a tough grind. It's also very tough to win.
There is an old saying that you "need to crawl before you can walk." Unfortunately the Phillies have fell flat on their face.
It's evident that they aren't ready for the big stage just yet.
After a promising start, they haven't just come back to earth, they have completely fallen off a cliff.
After a 4 game sweep of the Marlins on August 5th, the Phillies were 63-48, and 1.5 games up on the Braves.
Since then, it's been a disaster.
There are a few reasons why this collapse happened.
Let's start with the elephant in the room, Gabe Kapler.
The manager is easy to blame. I have been fan of his because it seemed that he had a good pulse of the clubhouse and connected with the players.
A lot of people have a lot of issues with Kapler.
Truth be told, he hasn't been good lately.
There are three major issues I have with the Phillies manager..
1. Bullpen roles
I understand the bullpen has been a nightmare. Over the last month Seranthony Dominguez owns a 6.75 ERA.
The general manager didn't do Kapler any favors with assembling this bullpen, but having roles would have simplified things a bit.
This is just ridiculous. This type of managing makes a game that's already tough to watch, completely unwatchable.
3. The lineup changes everyday
It's just too much. Guys can't get comfortable.
When the Phillies were rolling they pretty much had a set lineup (at least the top 4) consisting of Hernandez, Hoskins, Odubel, and Santana.
I understand that Kapler can't go up and hit for these guys, but again, simplify things for the players by giving them defined roles.
The GM has also made his fair share of mistakes.
Carlos Santana is their type of player. He walks and gets on base. But in hindsight, was he really necessary?
He has been better over the last month batting .287 with 6 home runs. But you started the season off by moving your best player from first base to left field.
If they wanted an outfielder who gets on base, Lorenzo Cain was available via free agency, and Christian Yelich was available via trade.
It was too far outside the box.
The bullpen that he assembled turned out to be a disaster.
Rushing Scott Kingery was a complete mistake. They have essentially been playing this entire season without a shortstop. How does that even happen?
I can't completely complain about his approach at the deadline. I liked the Cabrera and Ramos moves. He also managed to keep the system stocked with talent.
But obviously it wasn't enough to get this team into the playoffs.
The lack of starting pitching finally caught up with the Phillies.
Nick Pivetta owns an ERA of 5.16 over the last month, while Zach Eflin owns a 7.71 ERA over the same span.
Their regression has been alarming, but not exactly surprising. They were bound for some sort of regression in the second half. The GM should have added a starting pitcher at the deadline.
Possibly the biggest reason why the Phillies have collapsed, and have become borderline unwatchable is their lack of offense.
They just can't hit.
Many will look to their approach. But let me tell you- their approach is an ORGANIZATIONAL PHILOPSHY!!!
They won't give up an out to bunt a guy over to second with 0 outs. It just won't happen.
They won't steal bases because the numbers don't favor it.
This is all of baseball, not just the Phillies. Welcome to the analytics driven MLB.
I can't say I agree, but this is the way it is and it won't change any time soon.
What the Phillies do lack is consistency. Rhys Hoskins has disappeared far too often.
Over the last month Odubel Herrera is batting .197, Cesar Hernandez is batting .235, and Nick Williams is batting .238.
This was an organizational collapse. From the general manager all the way to the grounds crew.
The 2018 Phillies just weren't ready for the big stage, and may be further away than I originally thought.
Matt Klentak has a lot to do this offseason.
The bullpen, starting pitching, and lineup all need to be addressed.
He needs to make things easier on his manager.
Just make it idiot proof.
Have a closer, have a leadoff hitter, have a left handed starting pitcher, have a legit lefty in the bullpen... simple things to try and eliminate the constant over managing.
The good news is that the Phillies have plenty of money and plenty of resources to turn this ship around for 2019.
Let's just hope the guy steering the ship can make it happen.
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