It took them until the 10th to grab a lead, but the Phillies pulled out a series finale win against the Dodgers 4-3. It is unfortunate it took that long, as Zach Elfin threw a strong 7 innings, striking out a career high 13. The Phillies offense couldn’t do anything until the 6th, when Garrett Stubbs hit his first career HR to get the team on the board.
Still down 2-1 with two outs in the ninth, Dave Roberts made a crucial managerial mistake. Preferring the righty-righty matchup, Roberts intentionally walked Kyle Schwarber to face Jean Segura. As you would expect, Segura, arguably the Phillies’ best hitter, took it personally.
First pitch, he blistered a ground ball through the hole on the left side, and it’s 2-2. After a shaky top of the tenth by Corey Knebel (more on him later), the Phillies trailed 3-2 going into the bottom half. With runners on second and third and two outs, Alec Bohm hit a harmless grounder to second base. Max Muncy, and his robust .161 average, mishandled the ball. Roman Quinn, who was on second base, showed off his wheels and scored all the way from second.
A 4-3 win secured on a walk-off E4. Don’t know if I have ever seen that.
However, sitting in section 121 watching as the team celebrated the victory, I couldn’t help but feel empty. Despite the hard-fought win, it was hard not to look at the Phillies and see what they truly are.
A severely flawed team that has a ceiling right now of third place in the division.
Two of the major holes last year were the bullpen and centerfield. A year and $23.75MM dollars later, the same holes remain gaping. On Saturday night, the hole in center reared its ugly head, as multiple bonehead mistakes by Odubel Herrera cost the team the game. Instead of giving Quinn a start in the field, Joe Girardi questionably ran Herrera out there again.
Since he was hired by the Phillies, Girardi has continuously shown a lack of accountability towards veteran players. Herrera is probably the best example of this attitude. Despite countless mental mistakes, he has been given opportunity after opportunity out in CF. Granted, other players have not fared better, but young players like Matt Vierling, Mickey Moniak, and even Adam Haseley were not afforded the same chances.
Outside of that lack of accountability, Girardi has been a poor game day manager since he has been here. From setting lineups to lining up the bullpen at the end of a game, Girardi hasn’t pulled the right strings frequently.
For example, I can understand the thought process having an extra bat at the bottom of the lineup, but Segura is not a 6/7 hitter. His spot in the lineup should always be the two hole. He has had major success as the second hitter, and I really like his bat in front of Harper. A fastball hitter, Segura will see a ton of them hitting in front of the 2021 NL MVP.
While there is much to be said about how Girardi manages the team, it also comes down on the players not producing. Look no further than the bullpen for examples.
The Phillies spent $22MM on Knebel, Jeurys Familia, and Brad Hand. While Hand’s ERA looks good at 1.74, his walk rate is the second highest of his career (7.8 BB/9). Familia has an okay ERA of 4.30, but underlying numbers (.263 BAA, 54.8% hard hit) are too high.
Knebel is the real concern. He hasn’t look good since that 7-run meltdown against the Mets. His strikeout numbers have plummeted to 7.9 K/9 this season, after previously never recording less than 10.1 in a season. Advanced earned runs stats peg his ERA anywhere from the low to mid 4’s. Last year, he threw his curveball 41.9% of the time and found incredible success with it. This year, it is down to 26.5%, as he has been throwing a lot of fastballs.
The bullpen, including these three guys, has a lot of pitchers that are the same profile. Hard throwers that can’t find the strike zone consistently. That causes a lot of unnecessary baserunners.
The Phillies’ bullpen is second in the majors in walks with 79 and third in WHIP at 1.45. It is very hard to stop runs from being scored when you are allowing that much traffic.
While I do believe that some of the above players will begin to pick it up, there’s still a lot to be desired for this Phillies team. While there are higher ceilings for some of the scuffling players, I am not sure there are enough to make this better than a third-place team. It certainly does not help when the manager continues to put his team in positions to lose.
41 games through the 2022 season, and it feel eerily similar to 2021. The expanded playoffs give us fans more hope than last year, but not by much. It’s not even Memorial Day yet, and the team is already back 8 games.
The longer it takes to get going, the less games you have to catch up. Something has to give and soon. Or there could be some people on the way out.