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Bi-Weekly Report Card: 5th Starter + Q&A

Lose some, win some, lose some, win a series against the Cubs.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies are currently 22-24, sitting seven games back from the division. They’ve played inconsistent baseball with two different five-plus game-losing streaks and a five-game winning streak, all since April 30th.

Here’s a section on the fifth starter spot and all of the questions you asked, I’ll be back in two weeks.

Fifth Starter Spot

The situation is down to the worst-case scenario. Andrew Painter was the first choice before being hurt in camp, Bailey Falter was next but he’s down in AAA after an ERA over five in his last four starts, and the other internal options haven’t impressed.

Cristopher Sánchez was supposed to be a potential option but has an ERA over 6 in AAA, Michael Plassmeyer is in the exact same situation, and Noah Skirrow had his worst start of the season when it counted the most.

Other outside-of-the-box options won’t be feasible, Nick Nelson was getting prepared to be a starter but then went back on the injured list, Mick Abel is just 21 and has dealt with walk problems in AA, and Griff McGarry just came back from injury.

Now it’s Dylan Covey’s turn, a waiver claim from the Dodgers, that will pitch the bulk of Tuesday’s innings. He spent 2021 and 22 in the Chinese Profession Baseball League, putting up uninspiring but not terrible numbers.

He signed with the Dodgers this off-season and has spent most of his time in AAA Oklahoma with a 4.22 ERA and 5.1 walks per 9 innings.

It’s easy to say “They have to make a trade now” but with who? The Athletics don’t have anyone to help, and neither do the Royals. The Reds’ best pitchers are going to help them one day, and the Rockies’ best were either extended or are now hurt.

All of these teams are in last place in their divisions and sit at least six games back. There likely is no trade from them.

Maybe a team like the White Sox will accept defeat early but they possess all of the leverage possible against the Phillies.

Think of it like this, whatever they would have to give up now will almost certainly get them a better player if they wait so waiting is a better option.

External options outside of a Covey waiver claim don’t exist.

Alec Bohm

Since April 20th, Alec Bohm has a .596 OPS and is hitting just .220. Given the position he plays most days, he has to hit.

I don’t know enough about the mechanical things he is or isn’t doing right now but there are some specific numbers that caught my attention.

Bohm has regressed back to his 2021 form against the fastball, possessing a -4 run value against the four-seam this season. He has a slugging percentage of .309, a pitch he sees more than 33% of the time.

In May, he is hitting just .184 against both four-seam fastballs and sinkers, while failing to record an extra-base hit.

In 2022 he hit .355 against them but didn’t do enough slugging damage. It seemed like hitting coach Kevin Long was making progress with Bohm.

He’s handled most off-speed or breaking pitches well, with positive run values on changeups, sliders, and curveballs. However, the best hitters are the ones who crush the fastball.

Trea Turner

Trea Turner is going through a similar issue, ranking as the worst hitter against four-seam fastballs in the majors.

In March/April, Turner hit .083 with a slugging percentage of .111 against four-seam fastballs. In May that has turned around, he’s hitting .316 with a slugging percentage over .600.

At only 29 and given what he did at the World Baseball Classic, it’s hard to think this is a physical decline.

His average exit velocity for the season is at the lowest it’s ever been but that’s strictly due to April. In May, he’s hitting the ball over 91 mph.

All of these things would indicate a true transformation in May where he’s back to being one of the best hitters in the sport, that’s not the case either.

He has a .728 OPS in May so what’s the issue? Strikeouts.

Turner is striking out over 27% of the time for the season and over 30% of the time in May, both are stark declines from his career norms.

The physical attributes are still there but the chase rate and whiff issues are career highs.

With all of this information, maybe it’s easier to believe he’s pressing with the pressure of a 300-million-dollar contract in a major baseball market. I’m not trying to declare anything specific but there seems to be nothing physically wrong with him.

Josh Harrison

Josh Harrison has struggled both offensively and defensively as a bench player. He is hitting just .192 with a .515 OPS which is mostly boosted by a clutch three-hit day in Chicago.

Defensively is even more concerning, with a negative OAA at all three positions he’s played this season. He’s also regressed in sprint speed by 0.7 feet per second.

After a perfectly fine season for the White Sox, he has regressed significantly at 35.

In terms of his leash, they don’t really have better options in AAA. Weston Wilson has a .871 OPS but is hitting just .237, not the best sign for success in a bench role.

When it comes to external options, the first one that comes to mind is Bobby Dalbec from the Red Sox. He’s hitting .292 for Worcester with a .972 OPS.

He’s playing multiple positions such as third, first, shortstop, and right field but given his defensive reputation, he’s probably not playing them well.

Dalbec is 27 with severe strikeout issues in the big leagues, something Kevin Long can certainly help with. The Red Sox seem done with him after a demotion in April so he’s likely not going to cost much in a trade.

He doesn’t solve the type of player they need but is not a terrible gamble to take as a right-handed bat off the bench.

When it comes to a realistic timeline, Dave Dombrowski waited until the trade deadline to let Johan Camargo go last season.

The Phillies are much thinner than last year when they had Nick Maton, Yairo Muñoz, and swung a trade for Edmundo Sosa.