Phillies collapse to be blamed on injuries, or is it something more?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after being hit by a pitch by Steven Matz #32 of the New York Mets in the third inning during a game at Citi Field on September 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after being hit by a pitch by Steven Matz #32 of the New York Mets in the third inning during a game at Citi Field on September 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

The Phillies haven’t lived up to expectations this year. They’ve been walloped by injuries, but is that really why they’ve struggled?

The Phillies haven’t lived up to expectations this year; there’s no debating that. They’ve struggled through plenty of injuries and generally, haven’t played up to their potential. Even if Philadelphia manages to snag a wild card spot–which would require they string together some wins for the first time this season– they’re likely to get steam-rolled by the Dodgers, assuming they make it to the NLDS at all.

This team was supposed to win the NL East, or at least be in serious contention for the division crown. Instead, they’re 15 out of first, five games out of second place, and are only one up on the fourth-place Mets. What went wrong!!

A lot of people are going to point to the injuries they’ve sustained, particularly in the bullpen, where a total of eight arms have missed time to injury (not counting the converted starters). According to, the Phillies have had 21 players spend time on the injured list this season, costing a total of 1,353 man-games lost to injury, which is the third-highest in the NL.

The thing is, though, great teams find a way to overcome injuries. Look at the Yankees, they’re currently tied for the best record in the AL and have lost a whopping 29 players and 2,330 man-games to injury!!

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Do you remember the 2017 Eagles? Don’t answer that; if you’re reading this page, you probably have the Philly Special tattooed in a place you’re not proud to admit. That Eagles team lost their quarterback (who was the REAL MVP that year), middle linebacker, left tackle (who is a possible first ballot hall-of-famer), running back (Darren Sproles that is, who’s currently sixth all-time in all-purpose-yards) and kicker among others.

Yes, a healthy bullpen would most likely have tacked on a few wins, probably even enough to make up the three games the Phillies need to earn a wildcard. However, if you think the Phillies would be in the first place if not for injury, you’re delusional.

Injuries have crushed the bullpen and cost them some games, but the offense and starting pitching have been relatively unscathed, and yet they still rank 16th in the league in runs (682) tied with Baltimore for 22nd in homers (180) and 17th in ERA (4.60).

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The only Opening day starter who’s missed more than two weeks due to injury this year is Andrew McCutchen. Some guys have spent the usual ten days or thereabouts, and a lot of backups have missed significant time, but you have to work through that. The great teams do.

I think the blame belongs more on manager Gabe Kapler and the front office than it does on injuries. In my super long commute to work every day, I listen to 94.1 WIP a lot, and almost every day I hear them trashing the Phillies bench, and bashing Matt Klentak for failing to give them the depth needed to attend.

While I admit the Phils’ depth isn’t good, I will give the front office a bit of a break. They did land the most prominent star available in years and gave him a then-record $330 million deal, not to mention landing another former MVP in center field, a probable gold-glover behind the plate, and a shortstop who was an All-Star last year.

However, their drafts over the past few years leave much to be desired. Scott Kingery and Rhys Hoskins are arguably the only two hitting prospects that have developed the way the team envisioned–with the Phillies at least– and Aaron Nola is a stud, but everyone else in the rotation has been terrible this year. There’s only so much you can do to build a roster through trades and free agency, and I think the Phillies found that out this season.

Kapler can’t get let off the hook either. The baffling decisions and missteps haven’t been as bad as last year, but they’re still there. It just feels to me like he’s not getting the most out of this team though. Last year the team quit on him; while they haven’t gone that far this year, they’re not precisely playing balls to the wall for him this year either. To me, Kapler is not the leader this team needs in the clubhouse.

In my opinion, the coaching staff should bear the brunt of the blame for the team’s performance this year. True, the pitching staff has been hot garbage, but we’ve seen some of these guys (particularly Zach Eflin) have dominant stretches. As for the offense, the core has been intact all season long but has only started to pick it up since Charlie Manuel arrived. To me, this points to the coaching staff not knowing how to use, or at least not knowing how to get the most out of the talent it has.

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Here in Philly, we’ve seen what a great coaching staff and front office can do for a team (look at the Eagles) and what lousy coaching and a bad front office can do (look at the Flyers). The Phillies need to change one, and my money would be on the manager and his staff. The front office got you good pieces to work with, but what has the coaching staff done with them?