Perhaps it’s a good thing the final game of the Phillies’ six-game road trip occurs on in the afternoon.

That’s a few less hours everyone has to dwell on what happened Tuesday night.

In what was, perhaps, the Phillies’ most listless performance of the season, they were run over by a Padres team playing out the string, losing 8-0, and watching their lead for the top Wild Card spot get trimmed to 1 1/2 games.

Before Saturday’s game in Milwaukee, I wrote a post talking about how even when the Phillies lose, they’re seemingly always within reach in the ninth inning. I had pointed out at the time, that they were 23-18 in their previous 41 games, and that in 15 of those 18 games they had only lost by one or two runs, and that valid arguments could be made that the team had a chance to win all of them.

That left three games since mid-July where the Phillies were uncompetitive. Three out of 41.

The Phillies promptly lost that night, albeit by only two runs, with Trea Turner striking out with the tying run on second base to end the game. They then won the next two games Sunday against the Brewers and Monday against the Padres.

That ran the record in the stretch I was talking about to 25-19, with still, just three losses in 44 games where it just wasn’t the Phillies night.

Uh… make that four ugly losses in 45 games now.

There are many areas you can point to in this one, but it was so ugly that you likely just flush it away and wait to pass any judgement on this series, and this road trip, until after Zack Wheeler takes the mound to close things out Wednesday afternoon.

But, if you want to be a worry wart (it’s Philadelphia, of course you do), here are some things that were terrible Tuesday:

How Low Can Mike Lo Go

Michael Lorenzen has been atrocious since throwing the no-hitter in his second start as a Phillie last month. In four starts since, he has an 8.14 ERA. He’s allowed 41 baserunners in just 21 innings (1.952 WHIP) and has just 11 strikeouts.

There’s a belief out there that Lorenzen has hit a wall. Whether it was throwing 124 pitches in the no-hitter, or the fact that he’s more than 30 innings past his previous career high in innings pitched at this point, and that previous career high (113 1/3) happened way back in his rookie campaign of 2015.

But don’t buy into that logic.

His fastball Tuesday averaged a tick higher than it has all season (94.6 MPH), which doesn’t usually occur if you’re dealing with a dead arm.

Even Lorenzen refused to accept that as a justification for his struggles.

“I mean, I don’t know how to look into that,” he told after the game. “Honestly, I don’t know what to tell you about that. My velo was great today. … I don’t know how much to look into that. I’d love to make an excuse and say that’s why, but I’m not going to make an excuse.

“My body feels great. The stuff is good. I should be better. I don’t know if I’m overthinking, trying to overdo stuff, or what. But you try to simplify stuff, you try to challenge them, and then the singles happen. It makes you try to make better pitches because singles are happening. You’re not getting the swing-and-miss that you want, so that leads to trying to make better pitches, and then you’re walking guys.”

That’s probably an accurate self-assessment, because Lorenzen has struggled to throw strikes with the same consistency he had prior to this four-game funk.

But it’s also setting up for the Phillies to start transitioning Lorenzen into a different role, one they envisioned him taking on when they traded for him at the trade deadline on August 1.

After Monday’s doubleheader against Atlanta, the Phillies will return to a five-man rotation. That rotation will likely feature Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, and Taijuan Walker in slots 1-4. The fifth slot will likely be an alternating piggyback, depending on matchups, between Lorenzen and Cristopher Sanchez, with one starting and the other coming in to pitch bulk innings out of the bullpen.

That duo will also likely serve in relief roles in the postseason, creating a nine-man bullpen with Craig Kimbrel, Jose Alvarado, Seranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, Jeff Hoffman, Matt Strahm, and Andrew Bellatti.

So, is Lorenzen cooked? Likely not. But is he ready to transition into a different role than reliable mid-rotation starter? Yes. Most definitely so.

The Curse of Chuck from Mt. Airy

Bryce Harper is a superstitious dude. Take notice in-game at the weird stuff he does. He changes cleats. He switches up batting gloves, or sometimes goes with no batting gloves at all. He has his routine, closed-knee shimmy he does when he steps into the batters box. He transitions to a wider stance if he feels his timing is off, just to create contact.

And now, he’s shaved his beard completely off:

Harper wanted to change things up after going 0-for-16 following his 300th home run last Wednesday in the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park. So, he pulled out the shears, and went total baby face.

It didn’t help. Harper went 0-for-3 Tuesday with a walk.

This is what happens when you align yourself with unlistenable talk radio callers.

But seriously, when Harper gets into these mini ruts, it’s usually from overswinging. He just needs to go back to being the guy he was when he had no power, pre-August, and start taking what the pitcher and defense is giving him and line a few singles the other way, or up the middle. Get that juice back, then start crushing the homers again.

Nicky Double Play?

Nick Castellanos is going through it… again. After having a mostly nice August rebound (.293-8-23; .860 OPS) from his awful July (.162-4-11; .497 OPS), September has not been kind to Castellanos. In five games this month he’s 2-for-21 (.095). He’s been striking out a bunch (nine times). He’s back to chasing pitches out of the strike zone down and down and away. But Tuesday was something completely different.

He grounded into not one, not two, but three double plays.

Three. In the same game.

And this guy… well, he wasn’t too happy with it.

Wonder if he got a good night’s sleep?

Castellanos is only the eighth Phillies player to ground into three double plays in the same game since 1900.

He could use a day off. With Thursday being an off day, It wouldn’t be the worst idea to sit Nick Wednesday and give him a couple days to find that first half/August stroke again.

Other Observations

  • I can’t believe I hung in there to watch every at bat of a west coast blowout loss. There’s something wrong with me.
  • Bryson Stott’s throwing error was costly. Not that the offense was doing anything special, but going from a one-run game to a three-run game because of one bad throw definitely changed the calculus. It was only the fifth error of the season for Stott.
  • Speaking of that throwing error, there was a really athletic play by Lorenzen at the end to chase down the errant throw and nail the runner going to second from behind the plate. It’s a footnote, but it was a heck of a play nonetheless.
  • Speaking of a heck of a play – Edmundo Sosa is a VERY GOOD defensive shortstop.
  • Garrett Stubbs chasing Juan Soto on a tag play out of the box was quite comical.

Finally, I was having the “Kyle Schwarber isn’t a good leadoff hitter” debate for an umpteenth time during the game last night with a friend. I ended the 48-minute text exchange with this brief back and forth:

ME: In 2008, Jimmy Rollins had 158 hits and 54 walks, meaning he reached base 212 times in 625 plate appearances. Kyle Schwarber now has 96 hits and 111 walks, meaning he’s reached base 207 times in 618 plate appearances.

ROB: (crickets).

Feel free to @ him on TwiXtwer to tell him I was right. (@Rowello).