A 4-9 start is something no one had in mind following last year’s magical postseason run. The Phillies will enter Friday night off to their slowest start to a season since 2015 when the rebuilding club finished 63-99. The only teams with a lower winning percentage than the Phils are the Oakland A’s and the Detroit Tigers.
Entering the season with high expectations and the city genuinely believing in the team, it seems like the Phillies are on their way to making all the optimism they began the season with vanish. It feels like everything is falling apart, and nothing can go their way. Injuries have piled up, the stars aren’t performing, and Rob Thomson hasn’t had the same touch as he did last season.
What’s most concerning is the lack of urgency. Yes, it’s a long season. But there has been almost zero fight from top to bottom. The lineup––who deceivingly ranks second in Major League Baseball in hits and fourth in slugging percentage––are 4-31 with runners in scoring position during the present losing streak. The starting rotation has had just one pitcher go six full innings. The bullpen ranks 28th out of 30 teams in ERA. The base running––well, it looks like little leaguers are on the bases.
It has not been just one facet of the game that’s underperforming––it’s the entire team. It’s been an embarrassing start to the season for a team looking to return to the World Series. The Phils look lackadaisical, uninspired, and overmatched. Place the blame wherever you want––injuries, umpires, rule changes, a lack of focus––it doesn’t matter. The Fightins have no fight.
The one bright side to the Phils’ atrocious start to the season has been the Daycare. Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott, and Brandon Marsh are all scorching hot and are proving to be everyday major league players. Bohm is slashing .327/.377/.551 with a team-leading 11 RBIs, Stott has become the leadoff hitter during his 13-game hitting streak, and Marsh––despite his irregular at-bats against lefties––has four extra-base hits against them with a 1.296 OPS in 35 total plate appearances.
As encouraging as the Daycare’s development has been, it just goes to show how poorly the rest of the team is playing. The Phillies are 4-9, with each of their young players not just taking a step forward but a leap. Needless to say, everyone needs to step up to get back on track.
It’s easy to forget, though, the 2022 Phils had three different stretches where they accumulated a worse record than they have right now. In April, the 2022 club went 4-10 over a 14-game period and suffered two separate 4-11 stretches in both May and the end of September. Translation: the beginning of this season feels much worse because, well, it’s the beginning of the season.
The good news is reinforcements are on the way. Ranger Suarez, who will throw live batting practice soon, looks to be nearing a rehab assignment. Andrew Painter, the club’s top prospect, has begun a throwing program and could be in the rotation by late May at the earliest. Bryce Harper––whose initial timetable was pegging him for an All-Star Break return––looks to be superhuman. The way the Phils’ brass has acted, a mid-May return is likely. But don’t expect him to play first base right out of the gate––he’ll need to begin a throwing program first––but that won’t restrict him from resuming his role as the designated hitter.
There are 162 games in a season for a reason. We are just 13 games in, with five-and-a-half months left until October. There is too much talent on this Phillies team for their poor play to continue over an extended period of time. It’s a game of averages––just like we trust the back of the baseball card, the Phils will figure it out. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.