On Episode 211 of “Hittin’ Season,” hosts John Stolnis, Liz Roscher and Justin Klugh discuss another missed opportunity for the Phillies in New York against the Mets. Have the Phils run out of chances? Also, Gabe Kapler says the Phillies are still “in a good spot to strike” as they head home to play the Nationals. Is that overly optimistic crazy talk? Should the Phils start benching the veterans and play the young kids now? How responsible is hitting coach John Mallee for the team’s inability to hit, and why is the team showing no emotion out on the field?
Folks, it ain’t lookin’ good.
After Sunday’s awful 6-4 loss to the Mets, a defeat that saw them remain winless in their last 10 series, the Phillies’ quest to make the postseason is even more remote. A 2-4 road trip against the hapless Marlins and punchless Mets has left the Phillies in a desperate position as they return home for the three-game series against the Washington Nationals.
“I think we are well-prepared to get back to Philadelphia in a really good spot to strike,” manager Gabe Kapler said after Sunday’s game. “I think we didn’t perform our best on this road trip. I don’t think that can be diminished. It happened. And now we turn the page and get prepared for a homestand in Philadelphia.” (quotes via Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic)
Kapler is right. They didn’t perform their best on this road trip. They were quite terrible, in fact, and I’m glad he’s not diminishing it. Turning the page is good. They need to put this awful stretch of baseball behind them and focus on the last 20 games of the season.
But one thing is clear — the Phillies are NOT well prepared to get back to Philadelphia in a “really good spot to strike.” By dropping two out of three to the Mets, the Phillies LOST two games in the standings to the Atlanta Braves, who stepped up to the plate and took 3 out of 4 against the Diamondbacks in Arizona this weekend.
The Phils didn’t take advantage of Boston’s sweep of the Braves last week, and Atlanta made them pay by playing outstanding baseball in the desert over the weekend. The Phils are now 4 1⁄2 games out of first place (they were 2 1⁄2 out after Friday’s win) and, after having a 69.1% chance of making the postseason after their sweep of the Marlins on August 5, those odds now stand at 16.7%, according to Fangraphs.
Focusing on the negatives doesn’t help anyone. Getting pessimistic is often times a self-fulfilling prophecy. But it’s clear the Phillies’ are in the worst position they’ve been all year to reach the playoffs.
They are 11-20 since a four-game sweep of the Marlins back on August 5, making them 0-9-1 in their last 10 series. They are 21-26 since the All-Star Break, with a run differential of -31. And they are 15-17 against the Marlins and Mets, 6-10 against New York alone. Meanwhile the Braves have gone 26-9 against the two dregs of the division, and there lies the difference in the division.
Are the Phillies out of it? Mathematically they are not. But they have been the worst team in the National League (6-14) since August 18, which by no means puts them in a “really good spot to strike.”
Kapler’s optimistic take on things is often times the best thing for the club. And in this case, it is perhaps nitpicking to hone in on one sentence out of a slew of postgame remarks. Perhaps all he meant was that the Phils were still within striking distance of the Braves which, technically, they are.
But based on what we’ve all seen over the last couple months, this team is in the worst position to strike it’s been in all year.
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