It almost feels like the Phillies‘ big win streak that pushed them onto the top of the NL East standings earlier this month was a mirage. Bryce Harper is as sick as everyone else of what has gone on since.
A little more than two weeks ago, the Phillies were up by two games.
Since then, they’ve lost 9 of 13, the most recent defeat coming Tuesday after Archie Bradley surrendered two runs to the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth resulting in a 3-1 loss.
Now they’re 4.5 games behind the Braves in the standings.
The Phillies playoff chances are slipping. Bryce Harper says they’re wasting time.
After the game, Harper voiced his frustrations (hat-tip to NBC Sports Philadelphia):
"“As a team, we’ve got to get better and we need to do it right now. We’re wasting time. We’ve got to get going.”"
For the most part, it’s been a punchless offense to blame.
The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs in eight of the nine losses. They scored three in an extra-innings loss in the other game.
How bad have things been? Philadelphia has batted .187 during that time with an OPS of just 595. They have just 29 extra-base hits in 470 plate appearances.
The Phillies’ playoff chances have dropped to just 23%, per FanGraphs. Meanwhile the Braves surged with an 11-3 record since Aug. 8, including a nine-game win streak.
FanGraphs puts their chances of making the playoffs at 77.6%.
"“A lot of teams in our division tonight, from looking at the scoreboard, were going to lose and we lost so we didn’t gain any ground. If we’re not winning games, we’re not going to be where we need to be, so we need to pick up our offense. Our pitching has thrown really well so we need to be able to go out there (Wednesday night) and get some early runs for (Zack) Wheeler."
Harper, at least on the periphery of the MVP race, is partially to blame, though certainly not as much as a few other teammates.
He batted just .195 during the 13-game stretch, but has a .382 OBP and .845 OPS to show for it.
As noted by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, part of the problem has been the absence, and only partial return, of slugger Rhys Hoskins.
Hoskins came off the 10-day injured list on Sunday with two home runs, but has not been cleared to play two consecutive games, Salisbury noted.
With 26 home runs and .860 OPS, he’s been the team’s leader on the offensive ledger this year.
Before his return Sunday, his last game came Aug. 5. Hoskins was put on the IL with a groin strain.
Brad Miller has filled in for him in many of the games, but has batted just .190 with .729 OPS himself since then.
A healthy Hoskins may have been a difference maker in a few of those games.
While it’s not too early to say the Phillies are definitely out of the playoff hunt, it’s safe to say Harper’s right. If they don’t get things going pretty quick, and if they can’t take advantage of the Braves’ losses, they’ll be watching the playoffs from their couches this year.
That is clearly not acceptable to anyone.