Fast forward to today, June 3rd. The Phillies still sit in first place in the NL East after a three game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their losing streak now stands at four games and their once fairly large lead in the division is now only 1 game over the Atlanta Braves.
As the season has went on, all the fans and pundits continue to complain and clamor for the Phillies brass to add pitching (both starting and relivers) because that is the main problem with the team.
There is no doubt that the Phillies starting rotation is thin and that they definitely need to add a starter via trade or free agency. Likewise, their bullpen is thin due to injuries with 3/4 of the unit missing and they definitely could use reinforcements in that area as well. The Phillies pitching situation has remained less than ideal. However; the Phillies biggest problem this season has actually been the offense.
The Phillies offense, yes the offense that many predicted to have one of the most potent lineups in the league. Well that offense has instead been one of the most inconsistent units in MLB. Everyone keeps blaming the pitching, but the numbers truly paint a different picture.
One day the Phillies come out and score 11 runs and then they score a total of 5 runs in the next five games total. Its like Jekyll and Hyde on the diamond. The team came out hot in April scoring the most runs in the league the first two weeks. Since then, the Phillies lineup has been primarily dormant. Lets take a look at the numbers more closely.
The Phillies are ranked 15th (287) in total runs scored thus far. That number is right in the middle of the pack. In contrast, the league leading Minnesota Twins have scored 347 runs. The Phillies are even worse when it comes to team average where they are ranked 21st with a .247 team average. The Twins lead the league in that stat as well with a .275 Average.
The Phillies have not fared any better in the other important hitting categories ranking 16th (.325) OBP, 19th (.412) SLG, 19th (.736) OPS, 23rd (68) HR, 18th (826) TB. One common theme that these numbers scream is middle of the pack average and its not a good sign. Even if the Phillies had the best pitching in the league, these putrid offensive numbers are just not going to get it done.
Ok, so the Phillies offensive numbers prove that their offense has underperformed this season. However, the eye test truly backs up the fact that the teams hitting issues far outweigh their pitching deficient roster. The most glaring problem with their offense is inconsistency. The fact that the team can put up a 15 spot one night and then get shutout the next two.
These kind of issues should not be happening with the elite talent that the Phillies have assembled on the roster. Of course, Bryce Harper has struggled for most of the first half of the season. Harper has been known to struggle early but his inability to hit the fastball has been somewhat of a red flag. He is leading the league in strikeouts with 78. He also only has 11 Home Runs which is also somewhat disappointing.
Meanwhile, 3B Mikael Franco has struggled to the tune of a .209 Batting Average and .383 Slugging percentage. We all know about Odubel Herrera's issues at the plate and that was before his impending suspension for the Domestic Violence incident last week. The list goes on and on of the players that have not performed well at the plate.
Moreover, in a league that just set a record for home runs in a month, the Phillies are ranked 21st with only 68 home runs. This comes with a team that plays its home games in the band box known as Citizens Bank Park. Rhys Hoskins only has 13 and Bryce Harper has 11. In fact, the new addition Jay Bruce actually leads the team with 14 HR's. Not that home runs are everything but the teams lack of power so far has also been somewhat alarming.
The facts remain that the teams offense continues to fail them.
Yes, they could stand to upgrade their pitching staff but if they continue to put up 2.5 runs per game they will not succeed. Until the Phillies offense starts to show more consistency at the plate, the team will not have many sustained winning streaks. For a team that has high hopes and expects to make the playoffs and postseason, they better start to swing the bats better or those hopes will quickly fade as the summer moves on.
This Phillies team will ultimately go as far as the offense takes them. In the meantime, the organization will look to upgrade their starting pitching as well as hope that their injured relievers return from their maladies.
Look for Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins to start hitting bombs and expect some walk off excitement as the heat of summer increases. If not, its going to be a very long offseason as the Phillies ponder what went wrong. Yes, the Phillies need pitching but their offense has definitely been their achilles heel. Here's hoping that the team can finally find their stroke. If not...God help us.