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Phillies: NL East’s X Factor in 2021

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the Philadelphia Phillies faithful believe a full season represents normality, an underlying element will determine the divisional victor more than they expect. Like 2020, 2021 is already a unique campaign with its own complexion --unlike average annual differences. It stands alone!

 

Summer’s Discontent:

Expectation-wise, baseball men were at a loss to completely plan for ‘21 because they’ve never had a 60-game schedule preceding a full 162. For, however, the strike-abbreviated seasons of 1994 and 1995, 113 contests were the lowest mark. So, the doubling or tripling of injuries doesn’t have a precedent as a guide. 

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble.” - Benjamin Franklin

A normal year has injuries based on being hit by a pitch, crashing into a wall, collisions, and sprains due to forcing one’s body to make a catch or avoid a tag. In ‘20, missing a month was the equivalent of half a campaign. And misfortune affected the Phillies bullpen with no David Robertson and Seranthony Dominguez.                   

Currently, the pandemic has changed the last two offseasons because some players returning to an adjusted winter routine probably didn’t compensate to avoid overdoing their workload. And the result could be an unprecedented number of injuries. 

NL EAST:

TEAM

IL DAYS

MORE IL DAYS*

TOTAL

Phillies

168

7

175

Mets

405

68

473

Braves

206

190***

396

Marlins

295

194

489

Nationals

261

54

315

* Estimate of expected days on the IL (injured list).

*** Includes Ozuna’s likely suspension.

Unfortunately, major league supporters are unhappy with their club and feel there’s no excuse for losing. For years, though, players have stated their organization's line regardless of their top stars missing the season. But fans have taken it to mean their team should win even if eight relievers went down.                        

Following all MLB transactions, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase of injuries: double or triple the norm. However, many have made this observation, and no one can explain it. They can only guess like me.                           

In the tables, the important stars are at the top of each franchise’s list. Plus 2021’s baseball is 74 days old, so a player missing 37 days has been on the IL for half of it. Basically, these numbers are only the days on the IL and projected time on it going forward.  

Time missed due to injuries through June 13 (74 days):

#

POS.

PHILLIES

IL TIME

MORE IL DAYS

1

RF

Bryce Harper

10

 

2

C

JT Realmuto

12

 

3

SS

Didi Gregorius

26

7

4

2B

Jean Segura

17

 

5

L-SU

Jose Alvarado

14

 

6

R-SU

Archie Bradley

29

 

7

CF

Adam Haseley

60

 
   

TOTAL DAYS: 175

168

7

The expected 1-8 lineup hasn’t played for 125 days plus seven more ahead. Unfortunately, this led to a void in center field: the then eight hole in the order. Translation: If you need production from the eight hole to win, what does it say about the other seven regulars?                                    

The rotation has been healthy, and the recent off days allowed manager Joe Girardi to use Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin and Zack Wheeler against the Atlanta Braves. Moreover, the skipper had claimed he gave Eflin additional rest without anyone questioning the three starters for those three matchups.                      

Both setup men have had IL stints totaling 43 days, and this has cost the Fightins some triumphs because Sam Coonrod and Connor Brogdon are a fifty-fifty gamble in the last three frames. Yes, they have three saves total, but they haven’t even earned seventh inning roles yet. 

In a 9-5 defeat to Atlanta on June 8, Archie Bradley, the right-handed setup man, would have worked the eighth with one more outing under his belt. Instead, he pitched the sixth, but Brogdon and Coonrod blew a one-run lead: a loss due to Bradley’s correct usage after reactivation.

Expectations and Answers:

Even though he gets the call during high-leverage situations, Hector Neris is the go-to goat in the pen and always disappoints the locals when he doesn’t succeed. In fact, that’s when the faithful judge him and might prefer the Braves and/or New York Mets closers. Greener pastures? 

2019:

  • Hector Neris, 32: 28 Saves and 6 BS for 82.4% for the Phillies.
  • Edwin Diaz: 27: 26 Saves and 7 BS for 78.8% for the Mets.
  • Will Smith, almost 32: 34 Saves and 4 BS for 89.5% for the Giants.

A full 162 is the most accurate view because a virus-disrupted summer with cardboard fans and canned crowd noise was an aberration for many hurlers.  

 

Rule of thumb for Phillies fans:

  1. Most relievers are in the bullpen because they lack a starter’s control.
  2. 70% pinpoint accuracy is average control.
  3. 30% are missed-target pitches, good or bad.
  4. *All pitchers hang some breaking balls.
  5. *All pitchers will occasionally miss with a poorly located fastball in the strike zone.
  6. Most pitchers approximately have control issues every fifth appearance.
  7. Top-tier closers convert 90% of their opportunities annually in their prime.
  • * A souvenir for paying customers.

In New York, Edwin Diaz disappointed the 2019 Mets supporters: He had only pitched for low-pressure saves on the Seattle Mariners. Presently, he’s handling the Big Apple, but he’s never been in a pennant race:  Can he shine under the harsh criticism for any misstep?

Time missed due to injuries through June 13 (74 days):

#

POS

METS

IL TIME

MORE IL DAYS

1

SP

Jacob deGrom

14

 

2

RF

Michael Conforto

29

14*

3

1B

Pete Alonso

10

 

4

SP

Taijuan Walker

10

 

5

SP

Carlos Carrasco

74

30**

6

R-SU

Seth Lugo

60

 

7

CF

Brandon Nimmo

40

4

8

2B

Jeff McNeil

28

14*

9

3B

JD Davis

52

14*

10

CF

Kevin Pillar

14

 

11

R-SU

Dellin Betances 

74

6

   

TOTAL DAYS: 473

405

68

* Short Unknown Estimate  ** Long Unknown Estimate

 

Time missed due to injuries through June 13 (74 days):

#

POS

BRAVES

IL TIME

MORE IL DAYS

1

SP

Mike Soroka

72

60+

2

SP

Max Fried

21

 

3

LF

Marcell Ozuna (suspension)***

10

98

4

C

Travis d’Arnaud

42

60+

5

R-SU

Chris Martin

10

 

6

R-SU

Grant Dayton

10

 

7

SP

Huascar Ynoa

28

32

8

SP

Drew Smyly

11

 
   

TOTAL DAYS: 396

206

190

*** Includes Ozuna’s likely suspension.

According to Braves fans after blowing a save to the Phillies, they want Will Smith replaced and the manager fired. Basically, Smith had worked only one solid campaign closing after a setup role, and Atlanta gave him a three-year deal. But 2019’s San Francisco Giants won 77 contests and were 29 games out: no stretch-drive pressure.                       

In fact, one Braves supporter said it best regarding fans’ expectations. He stated they are unhappy unless a player produces at the height of a hot streak during his prime. Unfortunately, no star will ever live up to this impossibility, but their favorites are --no doubt-- exempt from this scrutiny.  

Time missed due to injuries through June 13 (74 days):

#

POS.

MARLINS

IL TIME

MORE IL DAYS

1

CF

Starling Marte

39

 

2

SS

Miguel Rojas

17

30**

3

2B

Jazz Chisholm

17

 

4

SP

Elieser Hernandez

70

55

5

SP

Sixto Sanchez

74

30

6

RF

Garrett Cooper

5

5

7

1B

Brian Andersson

31

14+

8

C

Jorge Alfaro

32

 

9

SP

Cody Poteet

10

 
   

TOTAL DAYS: 489

295

194

** Long Unknown Estimate


Time missed due to injuries through June 13 (74 days):

#

POS.

NATIONALS

IL TIME

MORE IL DAYS

1

SP

Stephen Strasburg

46

14

2

RF

Juan Soto

14

 

3

CL

Brad Hand

7

 

4

SP

Patrick Corbin

10

 

5

LF

Kyle Schwarber 

10

 

6

1B

Josh Bell

10

 

7

R-SU

Tanner Rainey

11

 

8

C

Yan Gomes

7

 

9

R-SU

Will Harris

49

30**

10

SP

Jon Lester

23

 

11

2B

Josh Harrison

10

 

12

CF

Victor Robles

12

 

13

R-SU

Wander Suero

23

 

14

SP

Austin Voth

6

10

15

SP

Erick Fedde

23

 
   

TOTAL DAYS: 315

261

54

** Long Unknown Estimate

 

Drawing Conclusions:

Stop and think where you’re getting your information. Is it a writer who completely agrees with you? Translation: Most locals don’t do any research, and memory isn't a dependable method.                             

I listen to players for on-field information because they know the game they’ve mastered to reach and remain in the Show. Meanwhile, the higher-ups know how to make personnel decisions and the rules governing them. But there’s no substitute for good health to handle the stretch drive to October.   

A month ago, the Phillies faithful demanded immediate action to acquire a center fielder and a four-slot starter. But Odubel Herrera and Vince Velasquez claimed those spots. And while injuries, the standings and available talent are factors on July 1, what else are they? The reason execs wait! 

 

 

NEXT:

2021’s Make-or-Break Month

Rsz_realmuto

 

 

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