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The Philadelphia Phillies, a team that has struggled over the past 4-5 years to build a championship contender, seem to have fallen back into old patterns (for the moment). The once NL-East leading Phils have lost their last seven in a row, are 6.5 games behind the division leader Atlanta Braves, have a minus eight run differential, and are just one game over .500. Yuck.
Ever since the injury to former MVP centerfielder Andrew McCutchen and conviction of Odubel Herrera for domestic abuse, things have just spiraled downward. The Phillies are currently middle of the pack in essentially all statistical hitting categories including total runs and RBIs despite having one of the more(on paper)talented batting lineups in the MLB.
Injuries and off the field issues have not only plagued the offense but the bullpen as well. Free agent acquisition David Robertson has not suited up since mid-April, only one of the handful of reasons they haven’t been able to induce outs and closeout ballgames. After missing on Craig Kimbrel, the Phillies need to implement aggressive free agent strategy in order to get some relief in the bullpen.
Even though Scott Kingery has shined this year, his stellar play has not enough for a lineup that has scored 8 runs over the past five games.
Who’s to blame? There seems to be three main culprits: Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak, Manager Gabe Kapler, and the players.
The arguments against Klentak is his inability to close the deal on free agents, especially in the pitching department. Anti-Kapler Philadelphians have cited his inability to utilize talent and his questionable lineup changes and pitching rotation. And finally just the Phillies lineup, at least for the past 10 games, has been underwhelming at best.
Personally, I think it has been a combination of all three. With only a couple weeks left before the All-Star Break and currently only a 15% chance of making the playoffs according to multiple baseball statisticians, the Phillies need to return to the team that they were in May. Hopefully July will be there month to catch fire as they host a series against the Mets this week to continue their twenty six game NL East tour.
The way the Phillies are playing now is similar to that of the 2018 squad that missed the playoffs. The Philly faithful do not want to see this year’s team go down that same path.