The Philadelphia Phillies have showed us really only one thing so far here in 2013. They’re better than the Mets and Marlins.
That’s it. That’s all they’ve done. And this weekend’s disaster in Milwaukee, coupled with last weekend’s disaster against Milwaukee at home, proves what I had suspected about a week ago.
The 2013 Phillies are a bad baseball team.
After losing 9-1 to the hapless Brewers on Sunday, losing three out of four games to the worst team in the NL Central and the team with the worst pitching staff in the National League (4.52 ERA), the Phils proved they ARE one of the bad teams.
Sure, that sweep of the Marlins was awful nice. And it sure seemed like the Phils were going to make up a lot of ground and bank some wins against some of the dregs of baseball after Thursday’s defeat of the Brewers gave them a five-game winning streak and pushed them above .500 for the first time this year.
But alas, the dizzying heights of .500+ baseball were too much for this team to bear. So, they quickly descended down Mount .500, and are now 31-33 and 8 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. They’re also 6 1/2 games out of the Wild Card.
And while a 6 1/2 game deficit is not impossible to overcome, there are other mitigating factors here.
You know you’ve got a brutal offense when you realize the Phillies could not afford to lose Erik Kratz. But with the Phils’ second-string catcher now on the 15-day DL with an apparent knee injury, the team is playing with Humberto Quintero and Steven Lerud, their third and fourth-string catchers.
The team started Delmon Young on Saturday IN THE CLEANUP SPOT. They are forced to use Michael Young in the LEADOFF spot, because Ben Revere has been so terrible, and because they need to use Jimmy Rollins in the three-hole in Chase Utley‘s absence.
The Phillies are paying Ryan Howard, their power-hitting first baseman, $125 million to hit 7 home runs so far this year. In his last 26 games, Howard is hitting .206/.260/.341 for an OPS of .601 with 1 HR and 10 RBIs. By the way, his BAbip is .316, which means he hasn’t even been unlucky. Howard is currently tied for 37th in home runs in the NL. That puts him on pace for 17 homers this year.
Chase Utley, who was on a roll for a little while there, injured himself taking a swing in BATTING PRACTICE. When all is said done, he will have missed a month. Carlos Ruiz has not been heard from whatsoever here in 2013.
The bullpen, outside of Jonathan Papelbon, has been at its best, unpredictable, and at its worst, disastrous. Jeremy Horst has dealt with some bad luck this year, but has also seen his K% drop significantly this year. He took the loss in Friday night’s 5-4 defeat in the bottom of the ninth. Mike Adams continues to be a walking injury, now once again day-to-day with who the heck knows what. Antonio Bastardo‘s control is unreliable and the rest of the middle relief corps is young and inexperienced.
The Phils’ run differential is -41, which is only better than Miami, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and New York.
Guys, they’re just not good.
With this weekend’s three losses to the Brewers, the Phillies finished 2-5 against the team with the worst pitching staff in the National League. In fact, the Phils were outscored by Milwaukee 36-28. On Sunday, they were shut down by Kyle Lohse, who hadn’t gone seven innings in a start since April 28th and came into the game with a 4.39 ERA. So of course, the Phillies allowed him to pitch eight innings against them, giving up only four hits and one run.
The Phils also lost a game that was pitched entirely by Milwaukee’s bullpen on Saturday night, scoring only three runs against the murderer’s row of Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Thornburg, John Axford, Brandon Kintzler, and Francisco Rodriguez. And on Friday night, Cliff Lee and the defense, led by Delmon Young and Freddy Galvis, blew a 4-0 lead.
When considering whether the Phillies truly are one of the bad teams in the NL, and they clearly are, consider this. The Phillies are 14-5 against the Marlins and Mets, clearly the two worst teams in the National League. They are 17-28 against everyone else.
The Phils won’t play the Marlins again until September and have just six games remaining against them. Meanwhile, Atlanta has 16 games against Miami, while the Nationals have 13. And as CSN Philly’s Corey Seidman points out, June was supposed to be a time for the Phils to bank a bunch of wins at the expense of some of the worst teams in baseball. The Phils’ schedule has them playing only one winning team in 27 games.
I said about a week ago the Phillies needed to go 7-3 during their current 10-game swing against the Marlins, Brewers and Twins in order to avoid being given the label of “sellers” and to truly be considered a team worthy of playoff conversation. After Sunday’s loss they’re 4-3.
Of course, none of the Phillies players seem all that concerned with the giant crapburger they laid in Milwaukee this weekend.
“The sky is not falling,” third baseman Michael Young said after yesterday’s debacle. “We had a little rough stretch here. We definitely didn’t play our best baseball, without a doubt. We have to make a quick adjustment on this road trip.”
Look, no one wants to bail on the season in early June. But I think it’s time to admit what seems clearly obvious when you look at this team’s roster and their performance against teams not named the Marlins or Mets.
The Phillies are a bad team. They have a lot of bad players who play and pitch badly. A sustained run of success this month just doesn’t seem likely at this point.
Of course, maybe the Phils will surprise and sweep the Twins. Maybe they’ll catch fire and beat up on all the bad teams that lie in front of them this month. But it seems like a difficult task when Delmon Young is batting cleanup, your power-hitting first baseman is slugging .341 over the last month, and you’re down to your third and fourth catcher.
It’s a depressing landscape, for sure.