Pitching Woes and Inconsistent Offense Haunt the Phillies through the first 21 games of the season
Throughout the offseason and into Spring Training, the Philadelphia Phillies did their best to re-tool their broken pitching staff. The attempt was made, but throughout the first 21 games of the season, the production just hasn’t been there for the Phillies. Every “what if” has gone in the wrong direction for the Phillies pitching. Matt Moore and Chase Anderson have failed to provide stability to the back half of the rotation and now with just under a week left in the month of April, we’re literally questioning whether or not Vince Velasquez would be a more suitable starter in the rotation. Yikes.
Last Friday, Moore entered COVID-19 protocols which opened up the door for Velasquez to get the start last Friday in the series opener against the Rockies. Velasquez pitched four innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs, and a walk while striking out four. He pitched well enough for a back rotation guy but the bullpen couldn’t provide any help with David Hale, Sam Coonrod, and Hector Neris all letting up a run a piece and the Phillies lost in walk-off fashion 5-4.
In yesterday’s embarrassing 12-2 loss to the Rockies, Chase Anderson started the game with three scoreless innings before coming apart in the fourth inning. The nail in the coffin for Anderson came at the hands of Rockies’ pitcher, Jon Gray, who hit a two-out RBI to tie the game at 2-2 after the Phillies got two solo home runs from Bryce Harper to give themselves an early lead.
Anderson wouldn’t recover, surrendering the lead before David Hale promptly allowed Trevor Story to hit a grand slam and putting the game out of reach for the Phillies’ inconsistent offense. Anderson finished pitching 3.2 innings, allowing six hits, six earned runs, and three walks while striking out two.
Over the span of eight starts, the back half trio of Anderson, Moore, and Velasquez have a combined 7.39 ERA, and a 1.77 WHIP in 31 2/3 innings pitched. That’s good for 26 earned runs and 56 runners allowed over less than 32 innings in eight starts. For those who are not mathematicians, thats also less that four innings per start.
Without Archie Bradley and Jose Alvarado anchoring the bullpen, the Phillies’ pen ERA has climbed in an MLB worst 5.38 on the season. Yes, it’s only April. There are 162 games this season and the Phillies, much like a slew of other teams in the MLB are dealing with injuries and COVID related protocols that have definitely hurt the team’s success. It’s a 21-game sample size that has been hindered with bad luck, injuries, and early slumps. These problems aren’t unique to the Phillies and could be said about actual contenders in the Braves and Yankees. Regardless, if the Phillies want to make it to Red October, these issues need to be addressed sooner than later.
Overall, the Phillies have been horrendous on the road to start the 2021 season. They are currently 2-7 away from Citizens Bank Park. Last year, they were 9-19 on the road. In 2019, they were 36-45 on the road. In 2018, they were 31-50 on the road. The Phillies currently have a -25 run differential away from CBP this season in just nine total games. The splits across every record statistic have been awful over the last few years for the Phillies.
Just look at the offensive production against the Rockies, one of the worst teams in the league. The Phillies went 1-2 against the Rockies and got little-to-no production outside of Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, and surprisingly, Nick Maton. Harper, Hoskins, and Maton were a combined 13-for-33 (.394) with eight RBIs against the Rockies. Everyone else combined for a lackluster 14-for-69 (.203) with five RBIs.
We can keep our hands off the panic button for now, but with pitching issues, inconsistent offense, and the inability to win games on the road, the Phillies have some major issues that they need to address as quickly as possible. Luckily, the NL East overall has been pretty bad this year. The Mets are in first place with a 9-8 record and the Phillies are second with a 10-11 record. It’s possible that the Phillies are just a .500 team that will win a few games, then lose a bunch of frustrating games. It’s tough baseball to watch.
There’s still time to correct these issues and keep pace with the rest of the NL East. The Phillies will kick-off a four game road series against the St. Louis Cardinals. They have Wheeler and Eflin scheduled for the first two games. The third game is still up in the air on who will start and Nola will close the series out on Thursday at 1:15pm. The Phillies need to win this series with their top three rotation arms pitching before heading home to face the New York Mets.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY SPORTS