Sports injuries: We’ve all had them. Many have been the times that I’ve been doing something slick and heroic on the ball field, only to fall victim to an ambush set by my own body. A tendon snaps, an ankle buckles, and the next thing you know, eternal glory becomes temporary malaise.
The Phillies know it well, now, with their loud, fun team being hit early by the injury bug. Scary moments have occurred involving Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, and Andrew McCutchen, but they’ve all managed to stay active while other key players have not. The Phillies have some depth on offense, but depth is only comforting until you’re tapping into it—then it disappears in a hurry. Isn’t that right, middle infield?
Injury: Strained left hamstring
What the Phillies lose: Their two-hole hitter and their best hitter right now. Segura was pummeling National League pitching, hitting a team-leading .328 in 16 games. He’s hitting righties (.327 BA vs. RHP) he’s hitting lefties (1.083 OPS vs. LHP), he’s hitting at Citizens Bank Park, he’s hitting on the road—when he gets a 2-2 count, he’s hitting .500 in every moment following it. Segurafties ( also brought a stability to the middle infield that, despite Cesar Hernandez’s continued presence at second base, looks a lot worse with Phil Gosselin at short.
Injury: Strained right hamstring
What the Phillies lose: The entirety of their infield depth and the best comeback story of the year. Kingery’s power surge has been exactly the sort of progress the Phillies have been trying to see in any of their young hitters for years. Rhys Hoskins has developed into a productive slugger, but there needs to be a few complements to the attack he provides, especially given his streaky nature. A lot of these concerns manifested themselves in a pre-Bryce Harper and pre-J.T. Realmuto world, but one thing the Phillies have learned early is that depth is only depth until you run out of it.
Kingery was hitting .458 with a 1.227 OPS against RHP in ten games this season, and before you say “SAMPLE SIZE,” it’s April, and they’re all small sample sizes. Kingery didn’t need much of a sample size to produce numbers far lower than those last year, and he has been more comfortable, productive, and aggressive with two strikes, with a year of experience under his belt and a superstar’s worth of pressure off his shoulders. Without him, the Phillies had to pull up Gosselin, who is inoffensive in every way except that he is neither of the two exciting hitting machines with which the Phillies middle infield started the year.
Injury: Right elbow inflammation
What the Phillies lose: The most dependable arm in their bullpen. He’s only appeared in three games this season and one of them was a disaster, resulting from, presumably, this very injury. But still, through a pair of two-inning outings, Arano compiled seven K’s, zero hits or runs, and one walk. Even in such an abbreviated supply, those are numbers anyone making bullpen decisions for the Phillies is going to cling to. Arano had a worse spring than just about anybody, but as it has been pointed out on this very web site, he has bounced back enough to make possibly the best relief appearance of all time when the game’s actually started mattering.
Well, somebody really rubbed Victor Arano the wrong way, and that somebody was a masseuse in Miami. Word is that’s the reason behind Arano’s inflammation, and now we’ve got to sit here and watch a bullpen without him or David Robertson try to make a few runs stand up. In Denver, that didn’t go so well.
What the Phillies lose: The only big league caliber center fielder they have. Sure, Aaron Altherr and Roman Quinn can fill the role, and sure, maybe there’s a chance for either of them to show what they’re capable of after some shakiness in Herrera’s absence. But so far, neither of them are surprising anyone with a burst of production. Herrera’s well on his way to a season of mental flatulence once again, and his early heat in a couple of multi-hit games has faded—he’s got only five extra base hits and five walks on the season so far. In fact, he was sitting due to a 2-for-14 slump on April 16. But you know Herrera at this point—he’ll put up solid numbers, despite his known streakiness, and he had looked all the more appealing than his would-be replacements, as Quinn struck out eight times in his first 13 AB. Without Herrera, the Phillies are without a productive bat and their starting center fielder.
Injury: Sore elbow
What the Phillies lose: The strength at the back of their bullpen. Once Robertson’s ERA hit 18.00 on April 3, he’s been chipping away it with each subsequent appearance. After allowing four earned runs in his first three appearances, Robertson has allowed three hits and one walk in 4.2 IP. It felt like we were just getting to the good stuff with the Phillies’ most overlooked free agent signing of the winter, and the broadness of his listed ailment is troubling. Elbows aren’t just sore for no reason, and Robertson has, of course, been trying to throw through the pain, telling reporters, “I’ve just kind of been dealing with some elbow pain for a little while. Taken some medicine to help and really just trying to just gut it out and pitch through it...” These are always worrisome because they either mean there’s a rusty nail in there somewhere, or the soreness is the symptom of a larger problem that pills can’t fix. In any case, Robertson was the Phillies’ weapon to bring in for late-inning, high-pressure spots, and without him, you know, somebody who isn’t being paid $23 million to succeed in exactly that situation is going to have to try to do it.