Things haven’t been going too great for the Phillies since their road trip began in Colorado last week. Between losing games and losing players to the injured list, it seems like nothing can go right.

The lineup that is being run out there every night is a far cry from the lineup that was mashing in the beginning of the season, and there are some serious concerns about both the starting rotation and the bullpen.

So what can the Phillies do about it? Let’s take a look at a few moves they can make to ensure they’re fielding the best team possible.

Upgrade the backup catcher

J.T. Realmuto

is going to start the majority of the games this season. But when he gets a day off, there is a massive decline in the caliber of player that’s behind the plate. Andrew Knapp has been on the big-league roster since 2017, and has failed to impress. Last season, in which he appeared in 84 games, he hit .198 with 4 home runs and only 15 RBI. This year, the average is slightly up (.235 in 11 games), but he has yet to drive in a run. At this point, it’s clear that “Knapp Time” is not a major league player. The backup catcher situation is so bad that Gabe Kapler elected to start Realmuto in a day after a night game, something that’s almost unheard of in today’s game.

Granted, there aren’t many options out there at the moment to replace Knapp. They missed an opportunity last week when Blake Swihart was DFA’d by the Red Sox and signed with the Diamondbacks. They could call up Deivy Grullon from Lehigh Valley. Grullon was recently named the Phillies Minor League player of the week, and is hitting .395 for the Iron Pigs so far this season. Will he be able to keep up that production relegated to a substantial bench role? That’s anyone’s guess, but anything is better than continuing to run Knapp out there.

Send Aaron Altherr to the minors

There might not be a better example of guys who don’t belong on a major league roster more so than Aaron Altherr. It was quite surprising that he even made the Phillies Opening Day roster this season with how bad he’s been. He hit .181 last year, and you wouldn’t think it’s possible to get worse than that, but Altherr is hitting an abysmal .043 with a .083 on base percentage this season. Yet he’s gotten the occasional start, while Nick Williams – who isn’t playing well to start either, but is leaps and bounds better than Altherr – continues to ride the bench. Just like with Knapp, the gap in talent between the starters and Altherr and Williams is huge.

Now nothing is going to be done until Odubel Herrera comes back from the injured list, which could happen as soon as this weekend. And when he does come back, Altherr has to be the odd man out and get sent down to Triple A. Between him, Williams, and Knapp, the Phillies bench is atrocious. If they want to contend for a playoff spot and a possible World Series berth, the bench needs to be shored up, and moving Altherr is the first place to start.

Add a bullpen arm

The Phillies bullpen is 14th in all of baseball in terms of ERA. Adam Morgan, Hector Neris, and Pat Neshek have been studs in the early going of the season. But after that, the ‘pen is inconsistent and untrustworthy. There’s no true closer, and guys that were supposed to be relied upon – like Seranthony Dominguez – have failed so far.

There hasn’t been a lack of trying to fix the ‘pen. There have been a few guys sent down to the minors, but everyone who gets called up to replace them has struggled. This is going to continue all season long, but there are two easy ways to fix it. The first is to acquire a bullpen piece at the trade deadline. But that’s too far away to wait for. The other is to sign Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel has been one of the best closers in the game over the past few seasons, and signing him would instantly solidify the bullpen and take some pressure off the rest of the relievers. If Kimbrel’s terms come down – and one would imagine they have now that the season is a month old – the Phillies should pounce.

Name Scott Kingery the starting second baseman

Before winding up on the injured list with a hamstring strain, Scott Kingery was tearing the cover off the baseball, and making it tough to keep him on the bench. He hit .406/.457/.719 with two home runs and six RBI. His heart, hustle, and character make him a perfect addition to the starting lineup.

That means Cesar Hernandez should no longer be the starting second baseman. Kingery’s upside is far greater than what Hernandez can provide. Cesar’s job is safe for now, as it’s unknown how long Kingery will be out of action for.

When Kingery does come back, his bat needs to be in the lineup, and Hernandez needs to be on the way out the door. The Phillies should trade him for the aforementioned bullpen arm, or a starting pitcher.

Photo: via Twitter (@ForTheWin)
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