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It’s Memorial Day. What worries you most about the Phillies?

It’s getting later faster

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ah, Memorial Day. The usual guidepost of a fan’s determination as to whether his or her favorite team has a realistic shot at postseason glory or should shift into some kind of a rebuilding phase (or whatever it is that the A’s are doing in Oakland. Woof.) Many people claim to not even look at the standings until this date on the calendar and if you are one of those people, behold! Your first glance at the standings for Major League Baseball!


It’s become pretty clear that the class of the National League has once again been shown to be the Braves and Dodgers. Try as we might, writing off Los Angeles should always be considered a folly, yours truly falling prey to the siren’s song that was the Padres offseason. Atlanta has positioned themselves to be a powerhouse in the league for not just this season, but many seasons beyond (debate about how they’ve done so is another topic). There are a few surprises that are happening, the Diamondbacks, Pirates and yes, the Nationals, among them. There are disappointments, the aforementioned Padres chief among those as well.

What we’re focusing on here, though, is the Phillies. What is it about the team that worries you the most? There are several factors that we can think about.

The offense

To go strictly from a team perspective, the best two words to describe the team are “inconsistent” and “average”. We all knew when the season started that until Bryce Harper got back, there was going to be an element missing. The addition of Trea Turner was thought to be enough of a buffer that maybe it wouldn’t be that much of an issue, but then Rhys Hoskins was lost for the year, Darick Hall would miss a significant amount of time and all of a sudden, another hole was opened up. Then Turner would start the year in an enormous slump, Kyle Schwarber would continue his pattern of early season struggles and the team would struggle to score runs. Had players like Brandon Marsh and Bryson Stott not started the year with their pants on fire, it’s possible that their record would be worse than it still is.

A look at the stats of the team shows one that truly is perfectly average. A team wRC+ of 99 bears this out. The return of Harper hasn’t really provided the team with the shot in the arm that they were looking for and the loss of Hoskins looks much larger from a clubhouse perspective than maybe we knew would happen.

For me, it’s the power outage that should be most concerning. The team right now ranks 20th in baseball with 55 home runs, something that maybe we didn’t think was possible. It’s brought into question the philosophies of the hitting coach that has been so lauded around these parts. Now, this isn’t some criticism of Kevin Long, who has gotten Stott, Marsh and Bohm to make contact much more consistently, but it makes you wonder if the desire to make more contact at the expense of power has sapped some player’s ability to drive the ball over the fence.

The starters

If the offense has been inconsistent, what the heck do you call the starting pitching?

Do I need to go over each pitcher? The seeming inability of Aaron Nola to have a good start two starts in a row? Taijuan Walker’s stretch where he would have a good start, then be unable to get out of the first inning, then produce a quality outing on three days rest? The struggle to find a fifth starter?

The playoff run they went on to end last season was founded on getting their top three starters to pitch like aces whenever they toed the rubber, followed by outings that allowed the team to remain close enough for a bullpen on a heater to get things under control. This year, the team is playing from behind on an almost nightly basis, forcing an offense that, as we said, hasn’t been consistent enough to allow them to come back and win games. The plan to have Andrew Painter start the year in the rotation, and subsequent injury to Painter, looks like it caught the team scrambling for options that they never had. Having a rotation that was, at least on paper, more than settled heading into spring training meant the usual plethora of minor league signings for depth never happened, those options choosing other teams with easier paths to the major leagues. Now they’re being forced to start waiver claims on national television. Until there is a stretch of games where the starting pitching performs up to the standard we have come to expect, long winning streaks might be few and far between.

It’s not early in the season any longer. It is imperative that they start playing better baseball if they want to remain in the playoff picture. After all, through all of the early season malaise, the team remains two games back of the third wild card spot. Three of the teams ahead of them are the Diamondbacks, Marlins and Pirates - titans of the game, they are not.

Can the Phillies make up the ground?

The real question should be - can they play consistently enough to do it? Time will tell.