Well, I talk about the Phillies on every Bullpen Cart Podcast (go subscribe) and if you’ve listened closely each week, you can hear my demeanor go from optimistic after the terrible Arizona/San Diego road trip, to exhaustingly defeated in this past week’s episode. Greg and I recorded that episode Monday evening while the Phillies grounds crew was still flamethrowing the field in an effort to avoid a Monday night rainout. While that failed, the Phils still looked to try to regain some ground in the playoff chase against the Nationals. This isn’t a recap post, as every effort the Phillies put forth throughout the series fell short and the Nats completed the sweep Wednesday. The purpose of this post is so I can get some thoughts down because I haven’t been blogging as much as I have been podcasting about the Phils and I sit here incredibly frustrated.
We knew the Phillies pitching staff was propping up the offense. The starting staff had been excellent all season whether the bats were white-hot or frozen solid. The bullpen started to look like they had figured things out in June and July. Slowly but surely, this slipped away from the Phils. The bullpen reverted to incapable of holding a lead, the bats never heated up in consecutive games, and finally, the starters showed their age. The starting rotation is the most concerning because this has affected each pitcher one-by-one and has now seemingly gotten to Aaron Nola after seeing his past couple starts. Nola is probably just in a cold streak, but the Phillies are 11-23 since sweeping the Marlins at the start of August so an overreaction seems appropriate. Nola did become the first Phillies pitcher to reach 200 Ks in five years so he’s at least cemented himself as the cornerstone for the future. I had never completely bought into the bullpen’s stellar pitching throughout the summer months but even at the worst times, the Phillies had a go-to bullpen guy; they don’t have one right now.
Greg has asked me a few times if the Phillies missing the playoffs would be deemed a “failure.” Given how high my hopes got in July, it’s just a huge letdown to see everything seemingly collapse at once. A complete failure? No, although seeing how far Odubel Herrera has fallen since leading the league in batting average might qualify, unfortunately. I, like most Phillies fans, didn’t really expect the Phillies to contend for a playoff spot that deep into the season but I did think they’d be a .500 team. Falling short of the playoffs after flying that close to sun stings, but the Phils will rebound. The team is very young and has the ability to improve from both depth in the farm system and depth in the Middleton’s pockets. This winter will be an exciting time to be a Phillies fan.
I want to wait until the end of the season to give more fleshed out evaluations of different players and Gabe Kaplar. There’s part of me the hopes the 2007 magic can be recaptured, however unlikely it may be.
I also want to take a quick moment to apologize for the lack of blogs. Summer 2018 has been an interesting period in my life that I’ll dive deeper into at another point. If you’ve been following along with the podcast, you’ve been hearing my thoughts each week. If you’ve only been following along on the blog, I apologize for the glaring holes in coverage. I’m going to do my best to keep my Phillies coverage updated down the stretch, no matter how rough things get. Go Phils!Follow @geordo9