Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Phillies Notebook: Slump is a team effort

Posted by Eric Fisher On May 24

Outfielder Odubel Herera (pictured) and the Phillies are battling severe slumps, with Herrera’s average taking a sharp drop and the Phillies losing 19 of their last 23 games. The only consistency in their games is that they are inconsistent.


If NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells’ adage that “you are what your record says you are” is accurate, then the Phillies aren’t the worst team in baseball.

But they’re pretty darn close.

The Phillies (15-28) enter Wednesday night’s game against the visiting Rockies barely ahead of the Padres (16-31), who have the worst record in baseball.

“I think there’s been a lack of consistency on our team in general,” general manager Matt Klentak said on Monday.

Klentak is incorrect. The Phillies have been fairly consistent. They’ve been consistently bad.

The Phillies have lost 19 of their last 23 games. That’s pretty consistent.

They have lost seven straight series. That’s pretty consistent.

They give up home runs with consistency. They give up two-strike home runs at an alarmingly high – and consistent – rate.

The Phillies haven’t won two games in a row since defeating the Marlins on April 26-27, which also happens to be the last time they won a series. That means they’ve been consistent losers.

Starting pitchers Jerad Eickhoff (0-5), Zach Eflin (0-1) and Nick Pivetta (0-2) don’t have a victory yet this season. Only Jeremy Hellickson (5-1) has more than two wins.

The bullpen is a disaster, but we can’t blame the Phillies’ failures all on the pitching. Five of the Phillies’ eight starting position players are batting below .500.

Pitching. Batting. Fielding.

The Phillies haven’t been very good in any of those areas. At least not at the same time.

That’s why they’re challenging for the worst record in baseball.


UH-O(DUBEL): The Phillies apparently believed center fielder Odubel Herrera would be an important piece of their future when they signed him to a five-year contract extension worth a reported $30.5 million, with club options for 2022 and ’23. But there continue to be questions about Herrera, and those questions have intensified this month.

Entering Tuesday’s game, Herrera had two hits in 23 at-bats in his last six games. His average for May is .200, lowering his season average to .232.

More disturbing that his statistics is Herrera’s attitude. He bounced a ball off home plate on Sunday against the Pirates and then made no attempt to run to first base. This occurred in the latter innings of a 1-0 game. This isn’t the first time Herrera didn’t hustle. Based on the fact that he was back in the lineup on Monday and Tuesday, this probably won’t be the last time Herrera doesn’t follow instructions, either.

It also appears that Herrera often steps to the plate without a game plan for his at-bat. His first-pitch double play with the bases loaded Tuesday is just the latest example.


SUPER NOLA: Aaron Nola allowed just four hits in 7 innings Sunday in his first start since coming off the disabled list (sore back). Unfortunately, the Phillies didn’t score any runs against the Pirates, generating just 3 hits during a 1-0 defeat.


TRIVIA TIME: Can you name the division leaders in all six divisions in Major League Baseball? (Answer later in this Phillies Notebook.)


VELASQUEZ CONFUSED: After allowing seven hits, five runs and two walks while not making it through the sixth inning Saturday, Vince Velasquez seemed to need a psychiatrist more than a pitching coach.

“In the game, it’s just a lack of commitment, a lack of concentration, just a lack of everything,” Velasqez said. “Geez even my golf game (isn’t) lacking everything. I don’t know what I’ve got to do, but I’ve got to figure something out. Stuff is just not working. Nothing is going my way.”

If you think that’s troubling to hear from a starting pitcher, read this quote from Velasquez after Saturday’s game.

“I’m just clueless right now,” Velasquez said. I’m just running around like a chickien without a head.”

That’s not exactly comforting to hear from your big flame-throwing starting pitcher.


LINEUP SHAKEUP: Manager Pete Mackanin tried to shake things up Tuesday night by replacing Maikel Franco, Cameron Rupp and Michael Saunders in the lineup with Andres Blanco, Andrew Knapp and Ty Kelly. It didn’t work. The Phillies managed just two runs, although one came on Knapp’s ninth-inning home run. Knapp and Blanco also were slated to start Wednesday night, but the slumping Saunders was back in the lineup.


LEFT-HANDED COMPLIMENT: It’s not a good idea to have one left-handed pitcher on the roster. It’s worse when that pitcher is Joely Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is 1-2 with a 6.95 ERA this season. He has allowed 29 hits and 21 runs (17 earned) in 22 innings. He barely has more strikeouts (13) and walks (11)

In his last two outings, Rodriguez allowed a combined 10 runs in 2 innings. Perhaps that’s why the Phillies recalled left-hander Adam Morgan from Class AAA Lehigh Valley. You know the situation is really bad when the Phillies call up Morgan, who allowed six home runs in six innings earlier this season, to possibly fill in for Rodriguez against left-handed batters.

The Phillies are so desperate to find an effective left-handed pitcher that they should check what Steve Carlton has left in his arm.


VALENTIN INJURED: Jesmanuel Valentin, the last position player cut in spring training, will likely miss the rest of the season, according to Phillies general manager Matt Klentak. Valentin needs surgery after dislocating his left shoulder.


TRIVIA ANSWER: The Nationals (NL East) and Yankees (AL East) probably weren’t difficult for many of you to name as division leaders. But how many of you had the Twins (AL Central), Astros (AL West), Rockies (NL West) or Brewers (NL Central)?


LOOKAHEAD: The Phillies have some legitimate opportunities to end their series losing streak coming soon. The Phillies host the Reds this weekend to complete their homestand. After facing the Reds, the Phillies hit the road to face the Marlins, and then return home to battle the Giants. That series is followed by four games with the Braves. All four of these teams have losing records.


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