Tripping Over Their Own Shadow: Thoughts after Blue Jays 18, Phillies 11

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies don’t need to win every game in September to shed the mostly false narrative that they collapse under pressure in the final month of the season.

Frankly, they don’t even need a winning record this month. After all, they had built up enough equity to get by even if the losses started to pile up in the final month of the season.

But they DO have to win once in awhile. And if they lose, they can’t do it with slipshod pitching, defense and baserunning, all of which were on prominent display Tuesday as the Phillies lost their fifth straight game, this one to the Toronto Blue Jays, 18-11.

No, this wasn’t the Eagles and the Argonauts. It was the Phillies and the Blue Jays.

Neither team pitched well, but the Blue Jays bashed the Phillies pitching just a bit more. And bash could be an understatement.

This was only the eighth time, in the 139-year history of the Phillies, that they were rocked this hard. More specifically:

The Blue Jays were like a 1980s metal band, shredding baseballs like notes on a Kramer Baretta. Every Phillies pitcher, with the exception of Zach Eflin, had their face melted.

Every Blue Jays player who got a chance to bat – which was all starting nine and two of the four subs, had at least one hit and scored at least one run. Nine of those 11 batters also had at least one RBI.

They scored in every inning except the fourth.

Kyle Gibson was the main culprit for the Phillies, as he allowed the first seven runs – all earned – and yielded 12 hits in just five innings of work.

It was obvious in the second inning he had nothing and was going to get knocked around. But Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson channeled his inner Joe Girardi and rather than pull him and go to the bullpen, decided he didn’t want to tax his relievers – all who had a day off Monday, and three of whom didn’t pitch Sunday either – so he conceded a bit despite being down just six runs before coming to bat in the bottom of the third.

If Thomson pulls him in the third, or better yet in the second, when it was evident that he had no life on his pitches, maybe the Phillies get back in the game. Maybe Eflin can go more than one inning and stabilize. Maybe instead of going to Sam Coonrod, who has been terrible, or Connor Brogdon, who has been disappointing for the past month, or Hand, who seems to have lost his touch, maybe you go Eflin, Bellatti, and then your better guys on the back end.

It just seems that Thomson wasn’t playing to win last night but was playing the odds in hopes of winning this week. That’s not a good strategy.

CONNOR’S HORRORS

Speaking of Brogdon…

On Aug. 20, Here was his stat line for the season:

  • 27 2/3IP, 21H, 5R, 5ER, 6BB, 32K, 1.63ERA, 0.98WHIP. OPP Slash line: .202/.246/.298; .544OPS

Since then, Brogdon has completely collapsed:

  • 10 2/3IP, 18H, 10R, 10ER, 3BB, 14K, 8.44ERA, 1.97WHIP. OPP Slash line: .375/.396/.688; 1.084OPS

Might be time to shelve him for a bit and turn to a younger option from the minors.

DEFENSIVE INDIFFERENCE

The Phillies were slapped with three errors in the game – all throwing errors, two by Bryson Stott and one by Rhys Hoskins.

And while those were all egregious in their own way, the two non-errors that really cost the Phillies in the game came courtesy of Kyle Schwarber and Alec Bohm:

I couldn’t find video of the Bohm play, when George Springer hit s a hard ground ball to third. Rather than square it up and get in front of it, which he could have done, Bohm turns his body, and tries to backhand it. He gets cross-footed and whiffs.

These two plays immediately followed a baserunning gaffe by Bryce Harper that ended a four-run rally the inning before.

Standing on second with one out, Alec Bohm hits a line drive to center. Harper wandered way too far off base, and was doubled up by George Springer.

But do they?

GAINING GROUND WHILE LOSING

From the time the Phillies were swept out of Atlanta Sunday to later in the evening Tuesday, the Phillies went 0-1… and still saw their magic number drop from 15 to 12. That could be down to 11 by the time they take the field against Toronto Wednesday as well.

That’s because the team the Phillies are trying to stave off, the Milwaukee Brewers, can’t win either. The Brewers have now lost three straight and are still 2.5 games back. The Brewers have 14 games left, the Phillies 15.

Of the Phillies games left, they have eight games left against winning teams (1 vs. TOR, 4 vs. ATL and 3 @ HOU) and seven games left against losing teams (3@ CHC, 4@WAS). If the Phillies go 8-7, the Brewers would have to go 11-3 in their final 14 to pass the Phillies.

If the two teams end up tied, the Phillies would make the postseason based on a tiebreaker (better head-to-head record) as MLB has eliminated the one-game playoff.

A COUIPLE OF POSITIVES ON OFFENSE

J.T. Realmuto had five hits in the game Tuesday. It was his third career 5-hit game, and second with the Phillies.

Tuesday. (Just finishing my sentence from the tweet).

Realmuto is also only the fifth Phillies catcher to have multiple 20-homer seasons. He hit no. 20 in the ninth inning.

On June 24, Realmuto hit his low point of the season offensively. Following a 1-0 loss in San Diego, Realmuto was slashing .236/.313/.352 with an OPS of .665. He had just four homers and 27 RBI in 64 games.

The next day was the day Bryce Harper broke his thumb.

Since then, Realmuto has played 62 games and done an offensive 180.

  • .321/.386/.624; 1.010OPS with 16 HR and 53 RBI.

numbers akin to what Harper put together in the second half of last season that won him the N.L. MVP. Realmuto won’t win the MVP this season – that’s Paul Goldschmidt in St. Louis. But is he deserving of votes? Yes. Absolutely so.

His 5.8 WAR is tied with Manny Machado for fifth among N.L. batters. Goldschmidt leads a 7.6 WAR.

Meanwhile….

Kyle Schwarber hit his 40th home run of the season Tuesday.

He still leads the National League in homers (although he is 20 behind Aaron Judge, who hit No. 60 for the New York Yankees Tuesday). He became the first Phillie to hit 40 homers since Ryan Howard in 2009.

He joined Howard (4 times), Mike Schmidt (3 times), Jim Thome (2 times), Chuck Klein (2 times), Dick Allen and Cy Williams as the only Phillies to ever hit 40 in a season.

He is just the third outfielder to do so, joining Klein and Williams, so it’s the first time in 92 years.

Schwarber has just 84 RBI. Unless he drives in 16 runs in the Phillies final 15 games, he will become the 30th player in major league history to hit 40 or more homers and drive in less than 100 RBI.

The most recent was Fernando Tatis, Jr. who had 42 homers and 97 RBI last season.

He would be the first Phillie to do that.

Only once in history has a player hit 40 or more homers and had less than 90 RBIs. Joey Gallo had 41 homers and 80 RBI in 2017.

The record for most homers with fewer than 100 RBIs is 46, set by Alfonso Soriano (95 RBIs) in 2006.

FINAL NOTES

  • Brandon Marsh left the game after three innings after jamming his left leg into the left centerfield wall while trying to make a catch. There doesn’t appear to be any structural damage, and the Phillies are calling it a contusion. He’ll be reassessed Wednesday.
  • Dalton Guthrie replaced him in the lineup and hit his first major league home run.
  • Zack Wheeler returns to the mound tonight after missing the past month with an arm injury. The Phillies will have Wheeler on a pitch count (expect it to be around 60 pitches) and then he will be replaced by Noah Syndergaard.
  • Nicholas Castellanos is looking at a rehab assignment this weekend. The Phillies would like to add him back to the lineup for the season-ending 10-game road trip.

 

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