2019 Postgame Recaps

After Saturday’s loss, are the Phillies the worst team in baseball?



Harper homered as one of two hits on Saturday, but also hit into an 8th inning double play. The Phillies lost, 5-3, to the Marlins, extending their losing skid to six games. (Ian D’Andrea)

This is not a recording. The Philadelphia Phillies (39-37) lost (again) on Saturday, this time by a 5-3 score, when their bullpen collapsed (again) to blow a late-innings lead. And this was a second consecutive loss to the Miami Marlins (29-46), the team with by far the worst record in the National League.

It marks a sixth consecutive defeat for the Phillies. Eight out of nine, and 10 of their last 12, have resulted in their finishing on the lower side of the final score. The have won just six times over their last 20 games.

That is more than a losing skid, or a poor stretch of games. For a team that was 11 games over the .500 mark and in first place when it all began to slowly unravel, this is a complete and utter collapse. For fans, it has been excruciating to endure. Nothing changed this afternoon.

So they are 6-14 over the last three weeks. That is a .300 winning percentage. The lowest winning percentage right now by any team in Major League Baseball over this full season is the .286 mark owned by the woeful Baltimore Orioles. But the O’s at least won today, ending their own 10-game losing streak. Maybe the Phillies aren’t the worst team in the game right now, but you would have a hard time convincing the fan base.

There were hopeful signs early on. Vince Velasquez, given a second (third? fourth?) chance to demonstrate that he might be a viable starting pitcher took the ball and ran with it. He allowed just one hit, a third inning solo home run by JT Riddle, over five innings. Velasquez struck out five, walked none, and was in command the entire time, throwing 40 strikes among his 50 pitches.

In the bottom of that 3rd inning, the Phillies offense responded in a manner that fans have been waiting for all season. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins slammed back-to-back home runs for the first time all year to put the Phillies on top 2-1.

Then in the bottom of the 5th inning, the Phillies manufactured another run. Cesar Hernandez grounded a single, moved to second on a wild pitch by Marlins starter Elier Hernandez, and scored when Harper slashed a base hit to the opposite field, beating the exaggerated shift put on against him by Marlins skipper Don Mattingly.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler wasn’t around to see that one cross the plate. He was tossed for the first time in his career an inning earlier after a spirited argument with the umpiring crew. He also wasn’t around to watch as his bullpen gave away that 3-1 lead.

The Marlins scored three times in the top of the 7th inning to regain the lead. Adam Morgan, newly activated from a stint on the Injured List, came out rusty. The lefty committed the cardinal baseball sin of walking the leadoff man, Garrett Cooper. Morgan then surrendered consecutive base hits to Brian Anderson and Starlin Castro, the latter hit scoring Cooper and cutting the Phillies lead to 3-2.

The Phillies nearly escaped the inning with the lead intact when Cesar Puello hit into a fielder’s choice. Hoskins fielded his grounder, fired home to J.T. Realmuto, who fired to third baseman Brad Miller, getting Anderson. Morgan then got Riddle to pop out to shortstop for the second out.

With runners at first and second and two outs, bench coach Rob Thomson, subbing for the ejected Kapler, chose to bring in Edubray Ramos to face switch-hitter Wilkin Castillo. The 35-year-old catcher hadn’t appeared in a big-league game since 2009, and was hitless on the day. So Castillo didn’t have a hit in Major League Baseball for a full decade. Now he does.

Castillo wasted no time, ripping a two-run double to right field that scored Castro and Puello, pushing the Fish into the lead at 4-3. In the top of the 8th, the Marlins got an insurance run when Cooper singled off J.D. Hammer to score Curtis Granderson, who had doubled.

For Castillo, the hit was a rush, helping justify his decade-long journey through the minor leagues with six different organizations.

“It was something indescribable,” Castillo said through an interpreter per Paul Casella for MLB.com. “It’s a lot of effort, just playing winter ball in the Dominican League, the Mexican League, the Minor Leagues for 10 years. So just being up here and see things happening, I thank God, and I thank the Marlins for giving me the opportunity to be here at the Major League level.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Phillies got a leadoff single from Hernandez. But then Harper, who was 2-2 with a walk to that point of the game, grounded into a 6-3 double play. The Marlins would take their 5-3 lead into the 9th inning.

The Phillies loaded the bases with two outs in the 9th on a double by Jean Segura, a single by Scott Kingery, and a walk to pinch-hitter Roman Quinn. That brought Hernandez to the plate again, this time with a chance to really become a hero. Instead, he popped weakly to second and the losing streak was extended.

The Marlins will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will try to end this losing streak. It will end at some point. Yet even when it does, it will serve to prove nothing. This team needs a run in the other direction, an extended winning stretch where the offense is clicking, or their season is going to completely disintegrate before our eyes.

Right now, the Phillies look like the worst team in Major League Baseball. Certainly in the National League. If they aren’t, if this is just a losing skid or a “phase”, then it’s well past time to prove it. You can only talk about your alleged talent for so long before having to back up that talk by actually winning ball games. Even one game.

 

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. MikeManh

    June 22, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    Its time to fire Kapler
    hes lost this team
    its chip kelly 2.0
    cut your losses before its too late

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  9. Fleming Hill

    June 23, 2019 at 5:19 am

    Mr. Middleton,

    Please fire everyone associated in constructing this team.

    It appears you need a general manager down.

    I watched 4 games this week, the team needs to learn fundamentals 101 , which starts at top.

    Please care for your fans!

  10. Seahawk

    June 23, 2019 at 6:37 am

    Please accept my apology in advance for my following long rant. (1) First of all, how does a team with this much talent just shut it down. Last year I could understand. You were playing with house money and it was eventually going to run out. When you counted on Franco, Williams, Herrera, and Santana as part of your core, it was inevitable. But this group? How can you just suddenly forget how to hit??? Let’s talk a little about launch angle. I am 63 and I was fortunate enough to play semi pro ball when I was 16. I was never good enough to go any farther, but I held my own. What child played Little League and Teeners and was told to go up there and swing with an upper cut and try and hit a home run every time up. You can call it what you want, but that is essentially what launch angle is. What happened to a level swing and hitting line drives. And striking out is not just an out, especially with men on base. Put the ball in play! Make the defense make a play! (2) One word, PITCHING. If you thought that you were going to ride an inconsistent Pivetta, Valasquez, and Efflin and a declining Arrietta to the promised land, I have some beach front property in Dessert Valley that you may be interested in. And yes, I know the issues with the bullpen, but it starts with good starting pitching!
    In conclusion, the difference between last year and this year…last year there were no expectations, this year they were through the roof, especially after the first 3 games of the year! I’m sure John Middleton can bite a bat in half at this point. Well, Matt, what’s next? How do you fix it at this point?

  11. John Brittain

    June 23, 2019 at 8:29 am

    John Keegan in “The Face of Battle” said “the bond between leader and follower is at the heart of everything that happens on the battlefield”. Is there any bond whatsoever between Kapler and his followers? Do any of them think of him as a personal friend? For Harper to try to steal a base and fail by a second and then have his manager tell the world he was overaggressive or something: what does that do to Harper’s willingness to play? When everything’s wrong with the team, I think here’s only one obvious answer. (I wonder if Chase Utley is available?)

  12. Kenneth Books

    June 23, 2019 at 9:54 am

    The Phillies are not the worst team in baseball. But they have the worst manager I’ve seen in my 56 years of following the team and the worst hitting coach imaginable. The team plays without intensity, and the blame is squarely on the shoulders of Kapler. The hitters swing at bad pitches constantly, most are pull-happy and they lack a sense of situational hitting, which is on the shoulders of the hitting coach. The pitching coach is incapable of spotting mechanical flaws in the pitchers — flaws I can plainly see while watching on TV. We will not win with Kapler and these coaches. All are incompetent. They must be fired and fired today.

    • Chris

      June 23, 2019 at 10:54 am

      What exactly are the mechanical flaws in the pitchers that you can plainly see on the TV?

  13. gregory gerhart

    June 23, 2019 at 10:07 am

    In assessing this current mess, it reminds me of how people viewed former Jeopardy uber contestant James Holzhauer’s strategies. Much was made of his betting tactics and his choice of of clues. No doubt those things played into his success. But the hard fact is that he was extremely knowledgeable about many things. In short, he knew a lot of the answers. My point is, don’t over analyze this bunch. The won’t play .300 ball the rest of the year, but what you see is what you’ve got. Based on previous history, it’s quite possible many of these players are overrated, including Harper. It’s not coincidence that most are having average or down years.
    As a Phillies fan it’s hard for me to say this, but it’s time to lower expectations. As the saying goes, “Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.”

  14. P S

    June 23, 2019 at 10:18 am

    This freakin’ team angers me so much!
    Another tease season, this one worse because of the perceived greater “talent”.
    I was suckered into buying pricey tickets this year but no more.

    Andy McPhail needs to figure this out. This is his GM and by default his manager. McPhail is being paid huge bucks for figuring
    this out.
    Is this Analytics run amuck ?
    Amateur Hour?
    Andy, this is your responsibility and decision. Klentak and Kapler are not going to change.

  15. John calhoun

    June 23, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Until they fire their gm and manager and their non hitting. coach they are going nowhere there is no accountsbility. Harper most over rated superstar. In case you missed it Santana has more hr than any Phillies. Worst trade Freddie gal is for de los santos

  16. Brian

    June 24, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Everyone is demanding Kapler to be fired, and I understand the frustration, but take a minute to think about the players this team is putting out there on a daily basis.

    Harper, Hoskins, Realmuto and Segura are what they are. They’ll have their ups and downs and the team will have to ride them out. Kingery is living up to his potential and showing that he belongs there. That’s the good news.

    Now let’s look at everyone else. Bruce, Quinn, Hernandez, Knapp, Rodriguez, Miller, and Franco. At least 3 of these guys are starting everyday. The other guys are the Phillies “valuable” bench players. Every single one of these players is not fit to be a key part of a major league roster. Bruce was acquired to be a nice veteran bat off the bench, but now, due to Cutch’s injury, he’s a starting OF which is unacceptable. Hernandez would be a great bench utility guy, but I don’t think he’s talented enough to start on a contending team. Rodriguez, Miller, Knapp and Franco do not belong in the majors, let alone to be key players on a supposedly “good” team. This is the Phillies problem. They have no depth at all. So if the star players struggle, the Phillies are doomed. Not only that, but opposing pitchers don’t really need to throw strikes to the star players when these other guys are automatic outs every single time. The Phillies have multiple players hitting below .200. That’s pathetic.

    I didn’t even address pitching. The Phillies obviously have a severe lack of starting pitching. Nola has been a big disappointment. Eflin has been a nice surprise, but he can quickly get knocked back into reality. As for the bullpen, it’s been decimated by injuries. I understand that, but it’s got to pitch better than this.

    This team isn’t a good manager away from competing. They have so many holes to fill. I’m not exaggerating when I say the Phillies have 6+ guys playing that shouldn’t even be on ANY major league roster. It’s a huge mess. This team is not underperforming. It just has gigantic holes to fill.

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