The Phillies are three games out of first place in the NL East after a HUMILIATING weekend series against the Braves where Jerad Eickhoff continued his rapid descent into the ninth level of hell (the level where you give up 15 earned runs and seven home runs in your last 10 innings pitched), Vince Velasquez confirmed that he has incriminating photos of someone in the Phillies organization to still merit a place in the locker room, and Brian McCann scorched and salted the Phillies’ Earth so nothing would ever grow again.
A large enough vat of coconut oil doesn’t exist to make Gabe Kapler and Phillies fans forget about the horrors they witnessed in Atlanta. Dwight Howard had more success in Atlanta than the Phillies did this weekend.
And yet… the Phillies are just 3 games out of first place with roughly 900 games remaining in the ultra-marathon that is the Major League Baseball season. It’s June. We’re not even at the halfway mark of the season… so why does this series against the Nationals feel like a huge one?
Is it even possible to have a huge series in June? Am I being a reactionary asshole, my opinion of this team rising and falling like every majestic BOMB that Eickhoff serves up to opposing hitters? Probably, but you know that by now. Bob is the baseball expert at Crossing Broad and reigning Inquirer South Jersey Baseball Coach of the Year… I’m just a guy that bothered Kyle enough until he let me write a column every week so I’d stop pestering him.
And yet… here we are. This right now feels like a moment in the Phillies 2019 season DVD (narrated by Milton Street, an odd choice) that will either be the turnaround of the season with a catchy montage, or a tremendous drop off accompanied by the line “things didn’t get easier for the Phillies in June, but the Phanatic still kept things fun at the ballpark every game.”
The Phillies are playing .500 ball in their last 10. The Braves are 9-1. The Phillies’ starting rotation is being held together by duct tape and Tom McCarthy’s skull polish. The Braves are healthy. The Phillies are crumbling. JT Realmuto may be going on the IL. The Phillies are so battered and beaten right now that a returning Roman Quinn is being heralded as a coup until he inevitably gets his foot caught in the gears of a combine and he misses the rest of the year.
So maybe it is possible for the Phililes to be in a huge series this early in June? The Braves are trending up, the Phillies are trending way down, and suddenly have way more questions than they do answers. Winning this series against the Nats would help keep the assholes (like myself) at bay for a little while longer until they can right the ship.
Maybe the returning Pat Neshek can pitch more than one inning a week without ripping his arm out of his socket and David Robertson can be the perfect eighth inning complement instead of the grotesque menagerie of AAA talent and fan favorites with huge glasses (sorry JD) that Kapler has to turn to every night.
And if they don’t? If they fall further behind while floundering against the dregs of the NL East in the next three series (Nats, Marlins, Mets) and then go into the Fourth of July series with the Braves suddenly DESPERATE to regain games in the standings… then what? Panic trade at the deadline? Does Mickey Moniak sniff the starting lineup? Does Kapler ban gluten from the locker room?
There’s a lot of time until week one in the NFL. We need a competitive baseball team for the entire summer. Philadelphia needs it.
In the slightly edited words of the Mayor of Amity from Jaws, “Philadelphia is a summer baseball town. Philadelphia needs summer baseball wins.”
A series win against the Nats would be a perfect start.