The Phillies have officially hit rock bottom. After getting swept in a rain-shortened three-game series with the Nationals, the Phils have lost 13 out of their last 19 games and sit 4.5 games back of Atlanta in the NL East.
Bryce Harper and the rest of the offense haven’t produced like we all expected going into this season. The pitching staff has been downright awful in recent weeks, boasting a 5.75 ERA in the month of June. Slumps are part of baseball, but this latest stretch is starting to feel like an indication of what this team is really capable of.
Everyone likes to point fingers when a team is struggling like this. Naturally, much of the blame goes to the manager. For the Phillies, that would be Gabe Kapler. During his short time in Philadelphia, Kapler has been through a lot, to say the least. From being booed on Opening Day last year to the local sports media calling for his job after just about every game, Kapler has not been embraced by the city like Matt Klentak expected. Some of this anger is certainly justified. His ever-changing lineups are a problem in a sport that requires consistency over a 162-game season and his pitching decisions are questionable at best.
With that being said, however, the Phillies’ recent problems do not start with Gabe Kapler, but instead, revolve around how this roster was constructed during the offseason. Klentak and Andy MacPhail were very aggressive during free agency and at the time, it seemed that their strategy would work out. Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, and Harper were all added to the team during the winter as improvements to one of the worst lineups in baseball last year.
But now we are starting to see the problems that Phillies management somehow did not account for. There was no safety net built-in to his team in case things went south and now we are starting to see the ramifications. McCutchen went down to injury, Harper and Segura haven’t been nearly as good at the plate as expected, and Realmuto simply does not seem to have the endurance to play 150 games a year. What we are left with is a similar team to last year’s, with worse pitching and an average bullpen.
So heckle Gabe Kapler all you want, but quite frankly this roster just isn’t complete. It is not Kapler’s fault that he has to work with Andrew Knapp and Sean Rodriguez off the bench on a daily basis. It is not Kapler’s fault that McCutchen tore his ACL. It is not Kapler’s fault that the pitching staff was not improved upon.
Sure, Kapler can definitely be better at times, but his responsibility as a manager is to make the best team with the players he is given, and right now he is not working with the best players.
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