For the record, let me just state that I don’t know how any human being hits a baseball thrown by a professional pitcher.
It’s a mind-blowing skill. Almost every pitcher today throws in the mid-90s, with more and more arms reaching triple digits on the regular. It’s astonishing. And yet, we ask these men who stand at home plate with a piece of rounded wood in their hands to track this small, spinning white orb at great velocities heading right at them and then to somehow place that ball in the field of play safely or, better yet, over fences 350-400 feet away.
It’s insane anyone does this, but the fact that we have an entire sport that consists of people who make a living doing this allows me, one of the vast unskilled keyboard-pushers out there, to say the following.
Hey, Phillies offense, let’s find some dang consistency.
On Thursday night, the Phillies lost a game they had no business losing whatsoever, and the blame fell squarely at the feet of the bats who, at various times over the last couple of weeks has looked outstanding. But in seeming see-saw fashion, the offense follows up a productive game with a dud.
It happened again last night against “vaunted” Colorado Rockies starter Ryan Feltner who, in his three starts to being the season, posted an 8.78 ERA having allowed 13 earned runs on 15 hits and 11 walks. Against the Phils, he went 5.2 shutout innings and gave up three hits and three walks. The Phils went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners total in the 5-0 loss.
I know fans want to excuse losses like this on the absences of Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins, and that’s understandable. The loss of those two power bats has had a dramatic impact on the team’s dinger potential, with just 18 home runs in 20 games, a rate of 0.9 HR/game. Last season, they hit 1.28 per game. They’ve scored a total of 87 runs in 20 games, an average of 4.35 per game, a big drop from 2022’s 4.61.
But it’s not just the total number of runs they’ve scored that’s the problem. The uneven distribution of them has been maddening.
The Phillies are 3-3 in their last 6 games.— Paul Casella (@Paul_CasellaMLB) April 21, 2023
In the 3 wins: 26 runs, 46 hits
In the 3 losses: 0 runs, 12 hits
Since exploding for 15 runs against Sandy Alcantara back on April 10, here is their run distribution: 4, 2, 2, 8, 0, 14, 7, 0, 5, 0. They’ve scored two runs or less in 8 of their 20 games (40%).
The performances of the Phillies Day Care has more than made up for the production lost by Harper and Hoskins. Brandon Marsh leads the team with a 196 wRC+ and a ridiculous slugging percentage of .712, incredible production out of center field. Alec Bohm’s 136 wRC+, .311 average and three homers are just as good as we could have expected from Hoskins. Bryson Stott is hitting .360 at the top of the lineup, with a 128 wRC+.
Trea Turner has been very good in spurts, and in the early going when he’s been productive the team has won. When he hasn’t, well...
Phillies manager Rob Thomson: “When [Trea] and Stott get on base, we'll score. That's pretty much the way it's going to be.”— Paul Casella (@Paul_CasellaMLB) April 19, 2023
Turner in 8 wins: .441/.500/.559, 12 runs
Turner in 11 losses: .234/.280/.362, 3 runs
So yeah, that checks out.
The inconsistencies in the offense is coming from the veteran stars who were supposed to carry the power load until Harper returned. It hasn’t happened.
Kyle Schwarber leads the team with four home runs but has a slugging percentage of just .412, a wRC+ of 95 and a .200 batting average. J.T. Realmuto has been brutal offensively, with a 94 wRC+ and just 6 RBIs on the season thus far. Nick Castellanos’ last home run came on August 27 of last season, against Pittsburgh. He has hit 9 doubles and scored 15 runs, which is more production than Schwarber or Realmuto can brag about.
With all those stars in the lineup every night, you can live with Jake Cave temporarily playing a lot. Edmundo Sosa and Josh Harrison are just fine as 8 and 9-hole hitters. Even with them in the lineup, there is no way a team should be getting shut out by Ryan Feltner, or anyone else wearing a Rockies jersey.
Colorado enters Friday with a 5.57 ERA, 2nd-worst in baseball. There is no excuse, none, for the Phils to not win the next three games and take home a series win. Their 8.12 K/9 are 25th in baseball, with their 4.27 BB/9 5th-highest. Opponents have hit .268 against them.
I’m sorry, there’s just no excuse for failure against this group.
And even with the injuries, the inconsistencies of the lineup are indefensible, especially against the Reds, White Sox, and Rockies. There is enough talent in this lineup for the Phils to score consistently.
Baseball is a weird game. The Phillies aren’t the first team in MLB history to score eight runs in one game only to be held to a one-hit shutout in the next. We saw it in Games 3 and 4 of the World Series last year. It happens.
But so far in 2023, it’s happening all too infrequently with the Fightins.