5 Phillies to blame for falling so far behind the Braves in the NL East standings

Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies
Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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The Philadelphia Phillies are fighting to get back to .500. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves are one of the best teams in baseball and well ahead of them in the standings. The two teams faced off this past weekend and split their four games. The good news is the Phillies didn’t fall further behind. The bad news is they didn’t make up any ground.

With a mountain ahead of them, the Phillies need a lot to get right for them and even more to go wrong for the Braves in order to catch their NL East foes. Five specific Phillies deserve a bunch of the blame for falling so far behind the Braves.

First, an honorable mention to practically everyone in the bullpen. How do we possibly choose just one? While many of those inflated ERAs are the result of getting incinerated in absolute bloodbath appearances, our trust in guys like Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto is limited. They do deserve a lot of the blame as should these other five Phillies.

1) Blame Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber for falling so far behind the Braves

Kyle Schwarber is one of the oddest baseball players around. Let’s take last season for instance. A .218 batting average and .323 OBP was good enough to keep him in the leadoff spot for much of the season. He led the league with 46 home runs but also struck out more than anyone else with 200 Ks to his name.

Schwarber’s 2023 season hasn’t been nearly as productive. He has an identical .323 OBP yet only a .168 batting average and a .408 slugging percentage. He has gone deep 13 times which is a reasonable expectation at this point in the year.

The Phillies need much more than the occasional long ball out of Schwarber. Even with him hitting in a much more appropriate spot of the lineup down in the middle, he’s a limited ballplayer with one skill: crushing baseballs.

A change could be around the corner. Schwarber is a lifetime .258/.352/.607 hitter in June. Last season, after two straight months of batting below .200, he turned up the juice and cranked out a .272/.385/.680 slash line complete with 12 home runs and 27 RBI. The Phillies need a repeat.