Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

I feel your pain

Posted by Eric Fisher On June 16

Fisher column logo2Which of these things would you rather do?

a) have a root canal

b) have a colonoscopy

c) watch an entire Phillies game

Columnists are given a license for exaggeration and hyperbole, and I am certainly using it here. But the fact that a could even facetiously ask this question highlights how excruciatingly painful it can be to watch the Phillies this season.

Throw out the 11-9 start. After those first 20 games, the Phillies are 11-34. That’s a .244 winning percentage.

And the pain comes not simply from losing. The pain is from how the Phillies lose.

They’ve lost 7-0 to the Cardinals, 14-1 to the Braves and 10-0 to the Giants. And that’s just in the first half of June. You can throw in 7-2 and 10-2 losses to the Marlins on the final two days of May. Or, if you want to use the last month as our time period, there were 5-1, 9-3 and 8-4 losses to the Rangers and 8-1, 8-2 and 7-2 losses to the Rockies.

The Phillies don’t always get blown out. They lost by one run four times in a five-game stretch against the Cardinals and Red Sox within the past week. The two one-run losses to the Red Sox came in extra innings. That’s a different kind of pain.

The bottom line is that the Phillies are losing with remarkable consistency. Since winning a two-game series with the Marlins on April 26-27, the Phillies have won one series, which came at the start of this month against the Giants. During the same span, they have been swept four times. Three other times (in four-game series), the opponent has won three straight games against the Phillies.

But losing alone can’t cause the pain. How the Phillies lose is important.

How many times can fans sit through starting pitchers throwing 100 pitches in five innings, leaving the game to the beleaguered bullpen? And how many times can fans watch the bullpen implode?

Before Joely Rodriguez was designated for assignment (and then traded), watching him pitch was like watching a traffic accident. You try to avert your eyes, but natural curiosity brings you back to the carnage. A similar feeling has developed recently when Joaquin Benoit enters the game.

When some Phillies pitchers take the mound, a special warning should be issued to fans in the outfield seats. Jeremy Hellickson has allowed 15 home runs this season in 14 starts. Vince Velasquez, not on the disabled list, and Zach Eflin, sent back to the minors, have allowed 11 homers apiece, with both averaging more than one home run allowed per start. Reliever Adam Morgan is allowing more than one home run per inning. Jeanmar Gomez has allowed six homer and 17 runs in 17 appearances.

The Phillies also can lose games at the plate. Only five non-pitchers are betting above .250. There was a stretch last week when the Phillies scored four runs in four games.

Watching catcher Cameron Rupp bat against right-handers – he’s batting .165 with 41 strikeouts in 97 at-bats – is painful.

Watching Maikel Franco for most of this season has been painful. Until his receng double-driven surge, the same could be said for Odubel Herrera, who, by the way, is hitless (0 for 14) in his last three games.

It’s painful to watch the Phillies make baserunning mistakes. It’s one thing to be bad. It’s another thing to be bad and play dumb.

There are exceptions, such as Thursday’s 1-0 victory over the Red Sox, avoiding a sweep in the four-game, home-and-home series. The Phillies only managed two hits during the first seven innings against Sale, but Nick Pivetta, backed up by some fine defense, shut out the Red Sox for seven innings, which provided the opportunity for the Phillies to produce the winning run in the eighth.

Thursday’s game was tense. It was exciting. And it was the exception.

Watching the Phillies this season has been like watching “Groundhog Day.” The Phillies lose in the same ways night after night after night.

Watching the Phillies this season is almost as bad as having a root canal or colonoscopy.

At least you’re asleep for the colonoscopy.

Then again, I’m certain more than a fair share of fans fall asleep while watching the Phillies.

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