Depleted Phillies Limp Closer to Playoff Spot, but Will They Make It?

PHOTO CREDIT: ERIC HARTLINE - USA TODAY SPORTS

After Jake Arrieta retired Pete Alonso to escape a bases-loaded jam that ended the third inning of the Phillies’ 4-1 win over the Mets, a fellow writer in the Citizens Bank Park press box looked over in my direction and said, “He’s on pace to throw a 15-hit shutout.”

There would be no shutout as Arrieta would surrender his lone run of the night two innings later, but I thought the quip adequately summed up his performance.

Arrieta gutted his way through a 16-out high-wire act, somehow avoiding major damage while allowing 10 Mets batters to reach base. But on his 97th and final pitch of the night, he lost control of an errant changeup that plunked Andres Gimenez and then immediately grabbed his right hamstring before gingerly limping off the field.

If Arrieta is a quick healer, perhaps he returns for a final regular season or postseason start. If he isn’t a quick healer, then this will likely stand as his final pitch in a Phillies uniform:

After the game, an optimistic (perhaps overly optimistic) Arrieta noted that he suffered a similar injury to his left hamstring during the final month of the 2017 regular season. That injury cost him 17 days. He told reporters that he believes a regular season return is in-play but “absolutely” believes he will be ready to go if the Phillies are one of the eight National League teams left standing 12 days from now.

As for Tuesday night, Arrieta left the bullpen in a bind, but in a rare clutch moment from the battered unit, JoJo Romero would induce a critical first-pitch double play off the bat of Wilson Ramos to mercifully block what looked to be another painful kick in the groin.

Must have been the Red Bull:

Despite the win, the daunting reality of a hemorrhaging roster that entered the night in serious condition and has since been downgraded to critical condition is simply too much to ignore. Though the loss of an inconsistent fourth starter who holds a 5.08 ERA and averages less than 5 IP per start shouldn’t be a knockout blow, considering the catastrophic losses the Phillies have suffered in recent days, it could very well prove to be just that.

In the last week, the Phillies have temporarily or permanently lost the services of three starting pitchers, their starting catcher/cleanup hitter, and first baseman/hottest hitter.

The team’s path to the post season remains realistic, and, frankly, mathematically probable, but the wild “what if” scenarios ending with a deep playoff run feel like pure fantasy right now.

For one night, however, a flawed (and now suddenly depleted) team showed some resiliency in a crucial victory over the Mets.

Onto the observations.

Haseley Delivers

Adam Haseley didn’t start tonight against right-hander Rick Porcello, but Joe Girardi went to Haseley in the fourth inning of a scoreless game after Kyle Garlick left with an oblique injury. Things worked out.

Haseley’s two-run single put the Phillies on the board first for the 35th time in 47 games this season and continued a recent stretch in which he has salvaged what not so long ago looked like a lost season.

Following the Phillies’ 5-2 loss to Boston in the second game of last Tuesday’s doubleheader, Haseley was batting just .229 with a .639 OPS. Taking advantage of Roman Quinn’s absence as he remained sidelined with a concussion, a resurgent Haseley rebounded with a hot eight-day stretch, pushing his average to .296 with a .766 OPS.

As for why he wasn’t in the starting lineup, Girardi said he liked Garlick’s swing path.

All right, then. I guess.

A Glimmer of Hope

The 2020 season has been a cruel one for Scott Kingery. It began with a COVID-19 diagnosis that delayed his arrival to summer camp. Nagging back and shoulder issues didn’t help matters, and following an 0-for-4 performance in an Aug. 30 loss to the Braves that dropped his slash line to an embarrassing .127/.184/.183, Kingery was placed on the 10-day injured list with back spasms.

There’s no doubt he still has a long way to go in order to salvage things, but his fourth-inning double marked the first time this season that he produced extra-base hits in back-to-back games. I don’t blame you if you’re not ready to read his road to redemption story – I’m certainly not ready to write it – but if the Phillies have any shot of reaching the postseason and doing anything more than being bodybagged in a three-game sweep, they desperately need Kingery to get hot over the next two weeks.

Whatever It Takes, Dude

It could be said the Phillies have been exceedingly unlucky in recent days, but they caught a much-needed break in the fifth inning of this one.

With the Phillies clinging to a 2-1 lead, Alec Bohm hit a hard ground ball to Mets third baseman J.D. Davis.

Hilarity ensued:

Of course, the play would prove to be critical as Didi Gregorius followed with a two-run blast that provided the Phillies with some breathing room:

If the Phillies do ultimately scratch, claw, fight, and limp their way into the postseason, chances are that they will have used some creativity and a little bit of luck to do it. They’re going to need to get weird, and they’re going to need to capitalize on breaks. This time around, they did it.

Quick Observations and Notes

  • Nice play on the pick by Alec Bohm on that inning-ending double play that killed a potential Mets’ rally in the sixth. I thought he played an excellent first base tonight.
  • In a season filled with disastrous bullpen stories, JoJo Romero has been the exception. He essentially saved the game in the sixth and then came back out to record another four outs after that. Yes, it’s a total indictment of this bullpen that Romero is the team’s most reliable relief option after just nine career appearances, but he is this team’s most reliable relief option after just nine career appearances. Tommy Hunter and Hector Neris, though not without a tense moment in the ninth, combined to nail down the final five outs. After 3 2/3 scoreless innings tonight, the bullpen now has a 7.00 ERA.
  • Zack Wheeler will oppose Jacob deGrom on Wednesday night. Aaron Nola gets the ball in the series finale against Seth Lugo. Girardi says he doesn’t expect Wheeler, who possesses the most talked about fingernail in Philadelphia, to be on a pitch count.

 

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