By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The Phillies are reeling as they play host to the New York Mets tonight (7:05) for the first time this season. The Phillies are coming off of an uninspiring effort against the Orioles, having been swept, and have lost five of their last six games. The Mets come in with two consecutive wins, having split their most recent series with the Nationals.
The Phillies bullpen has continued to give up runs in bushels, and the offense has become extremely reliant on its stars. To say that the season looks bleak at this point in time is an understatement.
With only 46 games remaining in their schedule and currently in last place in the NL East standings, the Phillies need to turn it around. Fast.
As of right now, even with the postseason expanding to eight teams in each league, the Phillies own the second worst winning percentage in the NL. They’ve got some catching up to do, and it starts tonight.
Phillies Lineup vs. Walker Lockett (0-0, -.-- ERA)
1. Andrew McCutchen DH
2. Rhys Hoskins 1B
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. J.T. Realmuto C
5. Didi Gregorius SS
6. Jean Segura 2B
7. Jay Bruce LF
8. Alec Bohm 3B
9. Roman Quinn CF
Well, the road to turning this shindig around got off to an extremely lucky start. The Phillies get the privilege of avoiding the tall task that is facing back-to-back Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom.
Instead, they will face Walker Lockett, a man with a career ERA of 8.84 over 13 games. He may just throw a no-hitter tonight.
The Phillies offense has looked stagnant in the past two games. The Phils have been overly dependent on their stars, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, to carry the offense. Those two have done their jobs, it’s time for the other seven guys in the order to start carrying their weight.
Of the Phillies eight hits last night, half of them came from Harper and Realmuto. All of those hits, by the way, were extra base hits, that one way or another led to the Phillies getting on the scoreboard. After Harper’s double in the fourth and triple in the eighth, Realmuto promptly followed each of those at-bats with two-run home runs.
Harper currently has a .356 batting average, .491 on base percentage (second in MLB), and his major league leading 1.202 OPS. Not to be out done, Realmuto is tied for fourth in the majors with his team leading seven home runs. He also leads the team in RBI’s with 17, good enough for seventh in the major leagues.
J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper have combined for 40-percent of the Phillies RBIs this season.— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) August 14, 2020
The Phillies win games when the whole offense contributes, not just when Harper and Realmuto carry the burden. In every one of the Phillies five wins this season, they’ve gotten an outpouring of support from guys like Jay Bruce, Phil Gosselin, Didi Gregorius, and Jean Segura.
Of course, winning games doesn’t all fall on the offense's shoulders. It’s pretty obvious where most of the blame for this team’s early season woes fall.
Oh, and here’s a little suggestion from Mr. Harper to Mr. Klentak.
Realmuto wants to be here. He’s made that so blatantly clear. The longer this drags on, the less Realmuto is going to continue to want to make this relationship work. Get er done.
J.T. Realmuto said he's fully aware of the #SignJT movement. "Keep it up, guys."— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) August 14, 2020
Mets Lineup vs. Spencer Howard (0-1, 7.71 ERA)
1. Brandon Nimmo CF
2. Michael Conforto RF
3. Pete Alonso 1B
4. Dominic Smith LF
5. Robinson Cano DH
6. Wilson Ramos C
7. Andres Gimenez 3B
8. Luis Guillorme 2B
9. Amed Rosario SS
Spencer Howard makes start number two of his career against a Mets team that owns the major league lead for most hits as a team. They also rank third in batting average and top the league in on base percentage. Needless to say, Howard has his work cut out for him.
In his major league debut last Sunday, Howard showed flashes of the traits that scouts have been raving about the past year. He had four strikeouts, but also allowed seven hits, four runs, and two home runs.
If Howard wants to have more success tonight, he will need to be better at limiting damage once runners get on base. He seemed to lose confidence and lose control in his pitches once the Braves offense started to threaten.
The Mets offense suffered a huge blow yesterday afternoon when their do-it-all guy Jeff McNeil was carted off the field after banging his knee into the left field wall. He is day-to-day after avoiding serious injury, but I doubt the Phillies will face him this weekend.
As for the rest of the New York lineup, Michael Conforto is always the guy to watch when the Phils and Mets get together. He has 19 home runs against the Phillies, the most home runs for him against any team he’s played. He’s off to a flaming hot start this season, with a .333 average, three homers, and a .949 OPS. Don’t be the least bit surprised if he takes someone in the Phillies bullpen to the upper deck in right field.
The Mets other big star, 2019 rookie of the year and defending home run derby champ Pete Alonso, has gotten off to a tough start. He’s batting .240 with three home runs and just a .760 OPS. He has the fifth most strikeouts in the league with 26 punch outs in just 20 games. If he faces enough of the Phillies bullpen over the next three days, his numbers will improve.
Speaking of the bullpen…
The Phillies Bullpen Has Gotten Worse
I’m not going to say much, I’m just going to show some stats. The ‘pen is the reason the Phillies are where they are right now in the standings. But hey, at least we optioned Austin Davis and called up...Jojo Romero…
This is the most troubling stat to me.
If the Phillies bullpen pitched 21 consecutive scoreless innings, it would still have the worst ERA in the majors.— Jonny Heller (@JonnyHeller) August 14, 2020
Name the one man who has pitched for the Phillies in relief this season and not given up a run or hit. Here’s a hint: he started at first base last night.
Neil Walker being the only reliever to not surrender a hit perfectly sums up the Phillies’ 2020 season.— Philsfan (@Philafan1) August 14, 2020
More runs allowed than innings pitched? I mean, c’mon, that’s just impressive. Sort of.
Phillies bullpen ERA for the season is now 10.29.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) August 14, 2020
48 earned runs in 42 innings. Unthinkable.
Is there really any reason to be optimistic about the Phillies right now? I mean, I think we can all predict how this is likely going to go.
Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto continue to carry the offense and receive no help from anyone else. Howard has a decent start, but he can only pitch for so long. The bullpen comes in and it doesn’t really matter who pitches, they will get lit up. Conforto goes upper tank, Alonso hits a homer off the brick wall in center field, and the Phanatic takes his jersey off and streaks across the field to provide some semblance of entertainment.
Mets win, 8-3.
Time: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP & WTTM1680