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Phillies: 2021’s Make-or-Break Month

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While some Philadelphia Phillies faithful expect them to be out of contention by June 30, others have already reached this conclusion before June 1. Regardless, baseball men realize June will determine the organization’s direction if they are still competitive in early July. Translation: limited holes and good health.

 

No Silver Bullet:

Phillies fans bemoan each loss and scapegoat some players and hurlers, while other supporters believe they are suffering the most. Wrong! Basically, stars and broadcasters experience defeat in real time, while beat scribes and writers who cover every game relive each loss while writing about it: me in 2009.

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Losing feels worse than winning feels good.” - Vin Scully

In the rotation, the signings of Matt Moore and Chase Anderson soothed the locals who had wanted Vince Velasquez pruned from the roster. Clue: Some even now merely tolerate Zach Eflin as a five-slot arm, until he has a bad inning. Then, the doubting Thomases have all the logic-eliminating proof required.    

With only Hector Neris, Connor Brogdon and David Hale returning on Opening Day, the faithful were happy with five new relievers. They had pictured Archie Bradley as a solid closer and wondered why Neris was still on the team. Unfortunately, some expected a lights-out pen to protect almost every lead.      

After a winter of low expectations, JT Realmuto and Didi Gregorius re-upped with the Fightins because other franchises didn’t want to wait and/or pay their asking prices. Realistically, the 2020 offense was going to take the field again and provide the needed run support for Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.

When the usual suspects --injuries, disappointments and reality-- arrived, many locals found players to scapegoat: Neris, Velasquez and Odubel Herrera --when he slumps-- are their favorites. Interestingly, their only requirement is a poor outing, a bad inning, or a botched play.  

Despite an encouraging offseason, the naysayers anticipated a .500 record and a third-place finish, now every flaw draws their ire. But if the Phils lose 81 contests, they must have shortcomings. But don’t expect immediate fixes because most clubs haven’t determined their weaknesses due to this injury-riddled 162. 

 

 NL East Stats through June 6:

ROTATION

ERA

NL #

MLB #

Mets 

2.82

1

1

Marlins

3.31

6

7

Phillies

4.06

7

14

Braves

4.21

9

16

Nationals

4.24

10

17



BULLPEN

ERA

NL #

MLB #

Mets 

3.36

3

6

Marlins

3.86

7

13

Phillies

4.54

11

23

Braves

4.78

13

26

Nationals

4.21

8

16

 

PITCHING

ERA

NL #

MLB #

Mets 

3.05

2

2

Marlins

3.54

5

8

Phillies

4.24

10

18

Braves

4.41

11

21

Nationals

4.15

8

16

 

DEFENSE

OA SCORE

NL #

MLB #

Mets 

-0.1

9

16

Marlins

3.1

6

12

Phillies

4.9

5

11

Braves

-7.4

14

27

Nationals

12.9

2

3

 

OFFENSE

AVG RUNS A GM

RUNS

NL #

MLB #

Mets     

52 = 3.7

192

15

30

Marlins    

56 = 3.8

222

12

26

Phillies    

58 = 4.2

245

10

19

Braves     

57 = 4.9

277

4

9

Nationals   

56 = 3.8

215

13

28 

 

After 2020’s truncated campaign, injuries have affected every major league organization, and it could be the missed time for preparation and an unmeasurable workload producing the toll on stars, reserves, starters and relievers alike. And most are soft-tissue injuries like hamstring strains in addition to normal annual maladies.                      

For the red pinstripes, losing 2-4 weeks each of Bryce Harper, Realmuto and Gregorius doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s more significant at the nine-week mark. Suddenly, it’s 22, 33, or 44 percent from three of their top four offensive weapons along with the disappointing stats from Alec Bohm and Andrew McCutchen. 

Expectations Kill:

Many fans have been waiting two months for Bohm to be the hitter they had depended on last summer, but now doubts are surfacing. Yes, the league caught up to him in a more conventional season, and he is putting pressure on himself to duplicate his previous success.  A Rhys Hoskins’ three months?                 

A disappointment to a lesser degree is McCutchen who lost his leadoff spot because of a roughly .200 mark. However, he has 10 home runs and 29 RBIs for two months, which projects to 30 bombs and 87 RBIs. For now, he’s still contributing offensively in the six hole and is on a hot streak.                     

Overall, Herrera and Velasquez are whipping boys for unhappy locals looking to find fault due to the below .500 record of the current squad. But Herrera has earned the one hole  in the lineup, and Velasquez is the best option for the rotation’s fourth slot.                              

Despite being away from the majors for nearly two years, Herrera has his average up to .273 after a .053 start on May 2. Moreover, he’s been a model citizen, he hussles on every play, and he knows a misstep now could diminish his career opportunities. Plus I haven’t advised betting against him since March.   

 

Phillies Starters through June 7:

(Management expects 75-80 percent)

PITCHER

GOOD

ACCEPT

BAD

TOTAL 

PCT.

Nola

7

2

3

9 - 3

75%

Wheeler

10

1

1

11 - 1

91.7%

Eflin

6

3

2

9 - 2

81.8%

Velasquez

4

2

2

6 - 2

75%

Howard

1

0

2

1 - 2

33.3%

 

Phillies Relievers through June 7:

(Management expects 75-80 percent)

PITCHER

GOOD

ACCEPT

BAD

BLOWUP

TOTAL 

PCT.

Neris 

15

5

5

0

20 - 5

80%

Alvarado

11

7

5

0

18 - 5

78.3%

Bradley

6

1

5

0

7 - 5

58.3%

Coonrod

14

3

6

0

17 - 6

73.9%

Brogdon

15

4

3

1

19 - 4

82.6%

Suarez

9

1

1

0

10 - 1

90.9%

Kintzler

10

1

6

3

11 - 9

55%

Sanchez

1

0

0

0

1 - 0 

100%

Hale

5

1

7

0

6 - 7

46.2%

Anderson

0

1

2

0

1 - 2

33.3%

Moore

4

0

2

0

4 - 2

66.7%

Velasquez

2

2

1

0

4 - 1

80%

Howard 

1

0

2

0

1 - 2

33.3%

 

Obviously, no player has the same amount of talent or develops at the same rate, but you’d never know it by remarks from MLB supporters in both the National and American Leagues. Are some fans living vicariously through their favorite players and taking setbacks personally?                                   

One noticeable factor is a lack of immediate success or a glimpse of potential not realized within a short timeframe. Basically, Velasquez has been the fourth best starter because he has now developed and is utilizing his secondary pitches. But he had no control in his last May outing after four solid efforts: a 2.96 May ERA. 

Phillies June Schedule:

  • Home: the Atlanta Braves (3) and the New York Yankees (2).
  • Away: the Los Angeles Dodgers (3) and the San Francisco Giants (3).
  • Home: the Washington Nationals (2).
  • Away:  the New York Mets (4) and the Cincinnati Reds (1).
  • Home: the Miami Marlins (2).

While the Phils will face the Dodgers, Giants, Reds and Yankees in nine contests, they will now square off against their four NL East rivals 11 times with seven at the Bank. And only the four divisional games against the Mets will be away, while the others will be the Braves (3), Nationals (2) and Marlins (2).           

Even if the offense is Herrera, Jean Segura, Harper, Hoskins, Realmuto and Gregorius, they should score enough runs if they can avoid long stints on the IL (injured list). Relief-wise, no one should have expected more than a middle-of-the-road group, and that’s doable. Plus they have four decent starters, not four aces.        

While the bottom of the five-man staff isn’t the critical element some believe, a piggyback of Spencer Howard and Ranger Suarez has real potential. But Howard might be a max-effort hurler who needs to pace himself and develop his arsenal, while Suarez could build up arm strength to earn the spot outright. Ergo, a solution!   

 

NEXT:

Acquiring a New Closer

Rsz_bohm

 

Comments

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Jerry

In early May when Herrera was hitting less than 100 and the question was who could we play in center field, I posted on this site that Odubel Herrera was by FAR the most talented player of the group of prospects and that he should be inserted into the lineup and given at least 100 at bats to regain his timing. ... He has proven to be one of our most productive players, both offensively and defensibly!

Tal Venada

Firstly, thanks for reading.


Like you, I wasn't surprised by his current success, but many fans would consider it a surprise.

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