Pitchers who have pitched for the Phillies in recent years have fallen victim to poor run support. That trend has continued through seven games in 2015.
Yesterday’s 2-0 loss to the Mets marked the second time the Phillies have been shut out. The first came on opening day when the Phillies lost 8-0 to the Red Sox. The pitching all around was poor that game, as the combination of Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman gave up five home runs, including a grand slam off the bat of Hanley Ramirez. The pitching did not earn the offense’s support, but the Phillies looked helpless at the plate against Clay Buchholz, regardless.
In yesterday’s game, the pitching earned the offense’s support, but the Phillies’ bats were unable to hold up its end of the bargain. It could have been a more humiliating 1-0 loss, but Chase Utley committed an error on a double play ball which led to the second run scoring via sacrifice fly.
There will be a lot games like yesterday’s this season, and as a fanbase, we’ve come to accept that. The Phillies’ pitchers have likely arrived at the same frustrating conclusion. Through seven games, the Phillies rank dead last in run support average at .57. The Yankees lead MLB at 2.00.
There are plenty of reasons why the Phillies have struggled offensively. For one thing, the long ball has been non-existent through seven games, as the Phillies rank 29th in MLB with only two thanks to Jeff Francoeur and Darin Ruf. Dodger first baseman Adrian Gonzalez bested the Phillies in one game last week when he hit three home runs against the Padres.
The lack of power is directly related to the struggles of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who are the only true power threats for the Phillies besides Darin Ruf. Both have struggled mightily early on, with Howard batting .161 with a .292 slugging percentage, and Utley batting .091 with a .091 slugging percentage. Utley’s struggles likely won’t last, as the second baseman’s short, compact swing will help him break the slump. For Howard, breaking the slump will not be so easy, and if he is unable to get on track, there won’t be many Harry Kalas “That ball is outta heres” echoing through Citizens Bank Park this season.
Extra base hits in general have been hard to come by early on for the Phillies. The team ranks 29th in MLB with only 10, which is a result of their difficulty hitting fly balls. Through seven games, the Phillies rank 25th in MLB with 89 fly balls. Ground balls have been easier to come by, as the Phillies rank 9th in MLB with 97 ground balls, albeit most of the ground balls that have resulted in hits have been singles.
The Phillies knew that they would have to be a “small ball” type of team in 2015, but despite this notion, they have failed to execute basic fundamentals in key spots. In yesterday’s game for example, Aaron Harang botched a bunt which failed to move up runners on first and second. The Phillies struggled in the same situation in last Saturday night’s game against the Nationals not once, but twice.
Even when the Phillies have had runners in scoring position, they have been unable to get the key hit. In 47 at-bats with RISP, the Phillies have a .170 batting average, which ranks 28th in MLB.
If the Phillies intend on scoring runs this season, they’ll have to do the little things and execute basic fundamentals on a daily basis. If they don’t, runs will be a rarity, much to the dismay of Phillies pitchers.