Waste Pitch: Phillies Again Spoil Great Starting Pitching in Shutout Loss

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Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody knows all about the big bad Phillies offense. You know, the one that entered the night at or near the top of several key statistical categories.

First in OPS and slugging percentage. Second in batting average. Third in extra base-hit percentage. Fourth in runs per game.

By almost every measure, the Phillies have an elite offense.

And that’s why it’s so puzzling that this is also an offense that has scored fewer than two runs nine times this season. That’s exactly 25% of the Phillies’ first 36 games played.

Not only did the Phillies fail to score against San Diego starter Mike Clevinger, who struggled in each of his first two starts this season, and two Padres relievers, but they have also failed to plate an earned run since the fourth inning Saturday night, a ridiculous stretch of 23 innings.

The Phillies’ lifeless offense spoiled an encouraging start by Zach Eflin and helped render some untimely displays of Little League outfield defense irrelevant. We’ll get to that below.

On what was an ugly start to a tough six-game homestand, the good news for the 17-19 Phillies is easier to see if you just zoom out. The numbers are the numbers, and the numbers suggest more good days than bad are ahead for the lineup. Meanwhile, they continue to get stellar starting pitching.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not all bad. In the long run, good starting pitching and elite offensive output should bode well, but the immediate results have been, well, less than great.

Catch the ****ing Ball!

Heard a few fans yell “catch the ball” with a select adjective or two mixed in there at different points during this one. A seemingly reasonable request, for sure, but it was one that proved to be an issue for Phillies outfielders.

They survived this mistake unscathed, but they would not do so an inning later when Kyle Schwarber, who went 0-for-4 at the plate with four strikeouts, let a single by Robinson Cano get under his glove.

That right there, that’s how I bend when I climb out of bed in the morning after two (four) Other Half double IPAs.

Instead of a first-and-third situation, the Padres had a run across and a runner at second against reliever James Norwood (note: Norwood probably wouldn’t have been my guy down just one in the seventh), one that would later score on a Trent Grisham double off reliever Brad Hand.

By the way, check Hand’s numbers. Pretty solid, especially the 1.80 ERA, but keep an eye on what he does with inherited runners moving forward. Good call-out by Phillies Nation’s Destiny Lugardo:

Waste Pitch

The last time we saw Zach Eflin was May 1 up at Citi Field on Sunday Night Baseball getting tatted all over the yard. Despite getting some offensive support, he offered little resistance to a Mets lineup that rocked him for eight hits and five earned runs over 4 1/3 innings in a 10-6 loss.

In his first start in over two weeks following a stint on the COVID-related injured list, Eflin looked like a completely different pitcher.

He needed just 50 pitches through his first four innings, allowing only a second-inning infield single. He had a little bit of everything working, too.

While heavily relying on a sinker/cutter combo, he spun a few timely breaking pitches, including this fourth-inning slider to the scorching-hot Manny Machado.

Ironically, it was the first slider of the night thrown by Eflin, according to MLB Statcast.

His lone blemish came in the fifth when a pair of singles by Will Myers and Cano set up an RBI groundout by Austin Nola.

Big fan of Brodes, but I’m not sure they were turning two on this one. Either way, the run came on the heels of some bad luck. Myers singled through a hole on the right side that was vacated by the shift, while Cano’s single, which carried an expected batting average of .110, blooped into shallow right.

Eflin would return for the sixth, escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam before ending his night. In the process, he dropped his ERA from 4.50 to 3.90. No doubt, Eflin was this game’s feel-good story.

Jean Segura Is Streaking

It’s a tough lift to find something positive to write about an offense that managed just one hit prior to the seventh inning and had just five all night, but I’ll give it a try.

How about Jean Segura? His seventh-inning single extended a 13-game hitting streak, one that has raised his batting average from .239 to .307 on the strength a .417 average this month.

Earlier in the night, he also swiped his fifth stolen base in six tries this season. Overall, the Phillies have been successful on 25 of 28 steal attempts.

J.T. Realmuto Is Not Streaking

Can’t close on a positive note after this game, so let’s slip in a concern that for me probably registers at a 5/10 on the panic scale.

Hitting seventh, J.T. Realmuto turned in an 0-for-3 night at the plate, dropping his average to .237 and his OPS down to .641.

In 43 at-bats this month, Realmuto is hitting just .186 with only four extra base-hits. Bad stretches happen, so I wouldn’t go crazy over a two-week sample size, especially one from a player with a solid track record. Really, I don’t think it’s fair to go crazy over a 36-game sample size, but 94 WIP’s Joe Giglio pointed out some troubling Realmuto batted ball metrics:

Allow me to decipher: Realmuto hasn’t barreled up many baseballs, and he’s not hitting the ball with authority. In other words, his lack of production hasn’t been born out of bad luck.