It’s one thing for a baseball team to be bad. It’s quite another for that same team to be good. Being stuck in the middle, a model of mediocrity, is what is most frustrating of all. Not being able to sustain any kind of winning streak, but not being quite that bad enough to engage in an embarrassing losing streak, that’s what teams try to avoid these days. Either you’re one of the elite or you’re playing to draft an elite level talent. Front offices don’t want to be in the middle, they want direction. Right now, it’s tough to see the direction for the Phillies.
It’s games like this, where there really isn’t much of any reason at all to watch them unless you’re suffering from insomnia, that really make people upset. It’s not that they aren’t trying things. Today, Joe Girardi tried to get one of his hotter hitters, Odubel Herrera, to the top of the lineup and moved his hitter struggling the most, Andrew McCutchen, down to sixth. It didn’t matter. The offense could only muster two runs, even with a ten hit “barrage”. It always seems to be something with the offense too. Yesterday, they participated in the continuing quest try and break the team strikeout record for a season, turning and heading back to the dugout from home plate 15 times. Today they cut that number almost in half, whiffing only eight time, but the team’s lack of clutch hitting rendered those 10 hits almost impotent, going 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position. As bad as it feels they have been in that position, they came into the game hitting .248 with runners in scoring position, middle of the league.
If it’s not the hitting, it’s the pitching. Zach Eflin has been pretty good this year, going six innings in every start he’s been in. Today? 4 2⁄3 innings, six hits, four runs. He just wasn’t sharp. When the team needed him, he couldn’t do it. The bullpen? Admirable, but still couldn’t keep the game within reach for the offense to have a shot.
This play gets made and the baseball game could end up differently. What was nice to see was the veteran on the bench helping a player that is clearly struggling.
Good teammate Didi Gregorius with some words of encouragement after Alec Bohm’s costly missed catch. pic.twitter.com/pIQ053Z1e3— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 30, 2021
And that is where the hope for this team lies - the veterans. Right now they are lacking their starting rightfielder, shortstop and recently got back their catcher. The lineup will more than likely round out a bit on a few weeks. The National League East is still there for the taking. The Braves are falling apart, the Nationals and Marlins have about as much consistency as the Phillies and the Mets may never play a game again. The veterans on this team are what we have to believe will help the Phillies get better. If they can come back healthy and productive, they should start to take off.