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Where the runs at? Phillies vs. Rockies series preview

The Phillies offense has been okay. It needs to be great.

Milwaukee Brewers v Philadelphia Phillies
Bryce Harper hasn’t been nearly as good as he needs to be
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Let’s make no mistake: Umpire Angel Hernandez was absolutely awful on Sunday night, even by his well-established standard of awfulness. But it shouldn’t distract us from the fact that the Phillies didn’t score a run in the final 15 innings of the series against the Brewers and didn’t hit a single home run during the series. That futility can’t all be placed at the feet of Hernandez.

The 2022 Phillies were designed to win via offense, and the offense simply hasn’t been good enough. If they want to recover from this poor early start to the season, they’re going to need to remedy that quickly.

Colorado Rockies

Record: 10-5 (Third place in National League West)

The last time they met

These teams faced off in Coors Field last week, and like most series they play in Coors, it didn’t go well for the Phillies. They dropped the first two games before four home runs in the finale allowed them to salvage a win.

As I mentioned in my preview of the Brewers series, that game gave me hope that the Phillies had begun to turn things around. To be fair, I also mentioned that my optimism regarding this team was often unrewarded.

Since then?

The Rockies won two out of three against the Tigers.

Who’s hot?

C.J. Cron has five home runs over the past two weeks and leads the National League with six total.

Who’s cold?

Second baseman Brendan Rodgers is currently batting .087.

Where’s the offense?

There’s evidence that offense as a whole is down all throughout baseball. Our resident stats guru breaks it down in a Twitter thread:

The Phillies are actually doing relatively well compared to the other NL teams. They rank sixth in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging, and fifth in home runs. However, they are only eighth in runs scored, and even if that number was more in line with the others, the Phillies aren’t designed to be one of the better offenses in the league, they’re designed to be elite at it.

My sacrifice

One offensive category the Phillies have been elite at is sacrifice flies, with their total of seven ranking second in the NL. Most times, you’d view a lot of sacrifice flies as a good thing as it’s the very definition of a productive out. However, it seems like the Phillies have left a lot of meat on the bone in scoring runs, and there have been a least a couple of occasions when an actual hit instead of a productive out would have been much more beneficial.

We don’t talk about Bryce-o

Due to his elbow injury, Bryce Harper has been limited to designated hitter duties over the past week. Is it time to wonder if the injury is also affecting him at the plate?

Harper’s number currently aren’t awful, but when you’re the highly paid franchise player who won the MVP last season, you are generally held to a higher standard than “not awful.” A .711 OPS isn’t good enough, especially when he’s grounded into five double plays. For point of reference, he grounded into 12 total double plays in the entire 2021 season.

Maybe he’s just off to a slow start, but Harper that’s not usually an issue for him. His career 1.005 OPS in March and April is his highest for any month of the season. So, I think it's at least somewhat understandable if people are concerned that the source of his slow start is the elbow.

At least someone is fired up

Since I’ve already been hurt by optimism once this week, I won’t predict that Kyle Schwarber’s (well justified) outburst on Sunday night is going to fire the team up and get them on the right track. I’m just glad that someone showed some energy.

Based on what I’ve seen on Twitter, I’m not the only one who thinks that the team’s manager should have made his displeasure known long before Schwarber’s explosion in the ninth inning.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Scott Rolen was the first Phillie to hit a home run against the Brewers. SLDH got it right.

This series’ question: On May 19th, 2011, a member of the 2009 Rockies team that lost to the Phillies in the NLDS had a three home run game at Citizens Bank Park. Who was he?

Non-Phillies thought

I hope everyone who spent a single second defending Ben Simmons now acknowledges how much of a waste of time and energy that was.

Closing thought

The Rockies look better than most people predicted in the early going. But the Phillies absolutely should be able to win a series against them in Philadelphia. Time to start bludgeoning opponents the way we know they’re capable of.