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Phillies Weekly Recap: It’s Been Frustrating Lately

Frustrating

The Phillies had to come out of the All-Star break on fire. Putting up wins against some of the better teams in the league would force management to consider buying at the July 31st trade deadline. Instead, the Phils have played 300 ball including the last two series against the Marlins and Pirates. Now, it would behoove the Phils to trade off some of the current roster to acquire more assets that could help the team down the road.

The Starting Pitching

The first 3 starters for the week (Nola, Velasquez, and Hellickson) gave up a total of 2 runs in 21 innings pitched. That’s less than 1 a game, yet only one of them (Hellickson) earned a win.

Nola pitched very well in 6 innings giving up only 2 hits, and 1 walk with 5 Ks and 0 runs, only throwing 68 pitches. Unfortunately his start ended early after he was hit by a batted ball and taken out.

Velasquez went 7 innings giving up 1 run (on a homer) on 3 hits with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts. Helickson pitching in what might have been one of his last starts for the Phils upped his trade value going 8 innings, giving up only 1 run (on a homer as well) on 5 hits, no walks and 8 Ks. Fittingly, Florida happens to be looking for another starter.

Hellickson is also peaking at the right time with a 2.54 ERA in his last 6 starts. Overall, he now sits at 43rd place (was 49th last week) with a 3.82 ERA.

Skipping to Friday, Eflin pitched a 3 hit no walk, complete game shutout on 100 total pitches. It was his 2nd complete game in his last 4 starts. In 8 starts he now sits at a 3.4 ERA which would be tied for 29th best if he had enough starts to qualify. Taking into account his awful first start the number is even more impressive.

Unfortunately, on Thursday Eickhoff had a bad outing giving up 6 runs, 5 earned on 9 hits to go with 5Ks in 5 innings pitched for his 11th loss. He was done in by a 4 run 4th. Eickhoff now sits at 46th place in ERA at 3.98 and his 11 losses keeps him in a tie for 3rd worst in the majors.

Saturday Nola could not follow up his stellar outing from earlier in the week giving up 6 earned runs (5 in the 5th) on 6 hits and 2 walks with 5 Ks in only 4 innings to take the loss Saturday. He now sits at an ugly 5-9 (9 losses ties for 11th most in the league), and no wins since June 5th, with a not so impressive 4.75 ERA (up from 4.69 and good for 73rd place ) yet his ERA is still 1 better than last week.

In Velasquez’s 2nd start he had a 4-2 lead going into the 6th but gave up a 2 run shot and ended up with a no decision on the day. His line was 6 innings pitched, 4 runs, 7 hits, 1 costly homer and 4 walks to go with 5 Ks. That’s a whopping 8 walks in his past 2 games. He really needs to cut down on them as he progresses as he’s averaging 2 walks per start and over 3 and a third per 9 innings. His ERA is 3.34 good for 26th among qualified starters.

On the week the Phils starters went 2 and 2 but clearly deserved a better fate than that. The Phils starters for the most part this week were either really good or really bad. The teams ranking remained at 14th this week in league ERA by their starting pitchers, but their ERA dropped significantly to 4.26.

The Relief Pitching

The Phils relievers were awful the week and went 0-3. All 3 loses were of the heart breaking 1 run games with 2 ending in extra innings.

Monday they gave up 3 runs in 5 innings of work, Tuesday was a tough loss as they only gave up 1 run in 3 innings of work. Wednesday they didn’t give up a run in the only inning of work they pitched, Thursday they had their worst day statistically giving up 3 runs in 4 innings but the team was already down so the runs didn’t factor into the game. Friday they had the day off, Saturday they only gave up 1 run in 4 innings of work, and Sunday they gave up the only run that mattered in their 2 innings of work. With exception of an inning on Wednesday, every game they pitched they gave up runs and most ended up being costly. It was a disappointing week for them to say the least.

Gomez had a rough start to the week blowing a save on an important game. He came back to pitch a scoreless inning to give preserve a tie in the 9th Tuesday while earning a save Wednesday. That puts him at 26 saves in 29 chances this year to go with a 3-2 record. His ERA did jump up from 2.53 to 2.76. He dropped into 7th in saves. Neris’ slid back into a tie for 18th in holds, but is only 1 away from being tied for 11th, strikeouts wise he moved up a spot to 6th and is one away from the top 5.

Another player impressing from a strikeout perspective is Hernandez, who remains in a tie for 16th most strikeouts by a reliever (2 away from 7th). Surprisingly the bullpen stayed in 22nd in ERA and stayed at 4.34 this week. They pitched a lot this week and the runs they gave up were of the costly kind.

Hitting

Not too long ago the Phils had a 3 week span where they averaged over 5 runs a game. Since the All-Star break, they have yet to score 5 in any given game. The Phils managed 2 runs in 11 innings Monday while being struck out 18 times (14 by Fernández alone and the first time the Phils struck out 14 times in under 7 innings ever. Credit to MLB.com’s recap article for the stat).

They didn’t have a hit in the 4 and 2/3rds the bullpen pitched Monday. Not to be outdone, they scored 1 run in 10 innings Tuesday, getting only 1 hit in the 4 and a third the bullpen pitched. This time against a spot starter whose ERA was over 7 and a half before the game started. The rest of the week was better, but still below average, when they scored, 4, 3, 4, 4, and 4.

Joseph continues to mash, hitting a solo shot Monday and followed it up with an upper deck solo shot Tuesday. Howard also managed another home run on Thursday as the Phils are getting a lot of homers from their first basemen of late. Meanwhile Rupp had a 2 run shot and a 3 RBI night on Friday and Herrera had a solo shot and 2 RBI’s on Sunday.

All that said, still no Phil is hitting over .290.

To no surprise, they stayed in next to last in runs scored, but are only 5 runs from 28th place now, it’s worth noting that they hold 3 games over the team in 28th place though. Some other stats, the Phils sit at 98 homers on the year, which keeps them at 23rd place. Other stats, the Phils dropped another spot to 27th in batting average this week. They still remain in dead last in on base percentage. The Phillies sit at .241% in average and .293% in on base percentage. The team stayed at 17th most in strikeouts, after having 18 on Monday I’m surprised it wasn’t worse.

Fielding

The Phils did well in the field this week. They had 3 errors on the week (2 on Thursday). Tuesday Franco made a fantastic diving grab (smacking his head on the ground in the process, but he’s ok) on a sacrifice bunt in the 10th Tuesday. It would have allowed the Phils another inning to score if it wasn’t for the single with 2 outs bringing the run in later in the game.

Hererra (a leaping catch at running towards the wall) and Borjus made some really nice plays to help preserve Eflin’s shutout Friday. Their fielding percent went up a bit to .982% and their ranking improved from 25th place last week to 24th this week.

Intangibles

Herrera did everything the prototypical leadoff guy is supposed to do to start Monday’s game. He got a leadoff double, had a heads up play advancing to 3rd on a dropped 3rd strike, and scored on the ensuing groundout. After Franco was hit in the wrist Friday, Eflin stood up for his teammates plunking the Pirates star player McCutchen the next inning. In other news, it’s still hard to get a feel on Nola, he looked great in the one start and equally terrible in the other.

The Phils are losing some of these 1 run games that they found ways to win earlier in the season, they aren’t getting big hits or really any hits later in the games early in the week, in fact they struck out looking with runners in scoring position twice Tuesday night. Mackanin mentioned striking out looking is one of his biggest pet peeves. Meanwhile, the Phils continued to make mental mistakes on the base paths, starting this time by veteran catcher Ruiz. Getting picked off when the opposing catcher throws behind you while on 2nd with no outs is inexcusable. He wasn’t stealing 3rd so I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish venturing that far off. Hernandez getting picked off first after getting on base to start the game is slightly more excusable, but still not good.

All this equates to the team trending the wrong way and leading to what should be the decision to sell at the trade deadline. Had they held on Sunday to take 2 of 3 in pit and 3 of 5 overall we could be encouraged, instead they lost and went 2 and 5 on the week and 3 and 7 since the all star break.

Summary

The Phillies are back to slumping. All year the team has taken a step back, 2 steps forward, 3 steps back and so on. The team now sits at exactly 10 games under 500. This is the glass half empty side of things.

After a frustrating week, if you want to look at a silver lining. The Phils do have guys that show flashes of brilliance from almost all of their starters, a few members of their bullpen, their center fielder and both corner infield spots. The team was expected to win somewhere in the low to mid 60’s by most experts but are currently on pace to win 73. It’s still progress, but there are some frustrations along the way and times when as a fan you were hoping for a bit more.

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