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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Phillies not making the grade

Posted by Eric Fisher On July 13

The Phillies’ mid-term grades look very different from last season. In 2016, the Phillies reached the All-Star break with a surprisingly good 42-48 record. This year they have a 29-58 record, the worst, by far, in Major League Baseball.

Not surprisingly, this year’s mid-term grades are much worse than last season. There were four “A’s” last season. This year there are two, and neither “A”-student is a starter.

There are 13 failing grades this year – a “D” is not a passing grade in my book – but, with the worst record in baseball, what did you expect?

An indication of how badly the Phillies’ fortunes have fallen is that two of the players who received mid-term A’s last season, Jeanmar Gomez and Vince Velasquez, are among the failing mid-term grades this season. The other player with an “A” last year, Odubel Herrera, also saw a deep drop in his grade this season. The fourth “A” went to manager Pete Mackanin, who barely escapes a failing grade this season.

Players still have the second half of the season to improve their grades. For some of those players, however, this may be their final month with the Phillies. Both players who received A’s, reliever Pat Neshek, and outfielder Daniel Nava, are likely to be traded before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Let’s check out the Phillies’ mid-term grades. Do you agree or disagree?

Pat Neshek: A+ The Phillies’ lone all-star is 2-2 with a 1.27 ERA, only allowing runs in two of his 38 appearances. You can’t do much better than that.

Daniel Nava: A- In a part-time role, Nava is batting .299. The least-heralded of the Phillies’ veteran outfield additions, Nava might turn out to be the most valuable in terms of bringing back value at the trade deadline.

Phillies-Nola3Aaron Nola (left): B+ With four straight terrific starts before the All-Star break, Nola (6-6, 3.59 ERA) looks like the pitcher the Phillies had hoped he would be when they draft him 7th overall in 2014.

Luis Garcia: B+ In the midst of the dumpster fire that is the Phillies bullpen , Garcia is quietly putting together a very good season. With a 1-1 record and 2.55 ERA in 30 appearances, Garcia should have a bigger role the rest of the season – at least after the Phillies are done showcasing Joaquin Benoit before the trade deadline.

Aaron Altherr: B+ With a .284 batting average and ranking second on the team in home runs (14) and RBI (44), Altherr looks like a solid piece of the Phillies’ outfield of the future.

Freddy Galvis: B+ In my most recent Phillies Notebook, I made the case that Galvis, with his outstanding defense, leadership and timely hitting, is the Phillies’ MVP at the midpoint of the season. Galvis has 10 home runs and 37 RBI, but it’s difficult to give an “A” to someone batting .251 with a .301 on-base percentage.

Howie Kendrick: B Kendrick would have received a higher grade for his .349 average, but injuries have limited him to 33 games.

Cesar Hernandez: B Batting .277 through 58 games before being sidelined by an oblique injury.

Tommy Joseph: B After a terrible April, Joseph has raised his average to .252. He leads the team in home runs with 15 and is third in RBI with 43. With Rhys Hoskins knocking on the major-league door, the Phillies may try to trade Joseph during the new few weeks.

Andrew Knapp: B Not much was expected from Knapp, but he’s played his way into a platoon situation by batting .250 and, a rarity for the Phillies, being selective at the plate.

Jeremy Hellickson: B- A 5-5 record isn’t bad for a team that’s only won 29 games, but Hellickson’s 4.49 ERA will probably diminish his trade value. The Phillies’ gamble to pay Hellickson $17.2 million to return this season hasn’t paid off.

Hector Neris: B- When Jeanmar Gomez faltered, the Phillies needed Neris to become the closer. He didn’t get the job done, blowing 3 out of 10 save opportunities. He’s 2-3 with a 3.52 ERA.

Ben Lively: C+ The 3.80 ERA doesn’t look too bad, but Lively is 1-4, allowing more than one hit per inning and has just 17 strikeouts while walking 13.

Odubel Herrera: C Although I gave Herrera an “A” for last year’s mid-term grade, I noted that improved plate discipline was an important part of his success and that his failure to run out a ball was troubling. Herrera’s defense has improved this season, but his flaws have come to the forefront. He has only walked 16 times this season (28 fewer than during the first half of last season) and his failure to run out balls has become more frequent. A streaky hitter, Herrera roede a hot streak to a .256 average, but his .292 on-base percentage is woeful.

Nick Pivetta: C A 2-4 record with a 4.73 ERA earns a “C,” but 62 strikeouts in 59 innings could be an indication that Pivetta has the “stuff” to have a much better record.

Cameron Rupp: C- A sub-par defensive catcher, Rupp is batting .220 and lost his starting job. He hasn’t displayed the knack for coming up with hits in big situations, as he did last season.

Mark Leiter Jr.: C- As a reliever, Leiter would have earned a “D,” bue he’s pitched well enough in three starts to lower his ERA to 4.08.

Ty Kelly: C- He’s only batting .180, but not much was expected of Kelly, who has been a good baserunner and has produced some timely pinch-hits.

Maikel Franco: D It’s difficult to give a “D” to the team leader in RBI, but Franco receives this low grade on merit. Expected to be part of the foundation for the future, Franco is batting .217 with a .274 on-base percentage. His numbers are even worse with runners in scoring position, and he has hit into a National League-leading 17 double plays. An extremely streaky hitter, his 13 home runs and 45 RBI don’t offset all of the other negatives.

Jerad Eickhoff: D Aside from the final game before the All-Star break, when Eickhoff finally notched his first win this season, the Phillies continue to provide him with very little offensive support. But when you’re 1-7 with a 4.63 ERA, you can’t place all of the blame on the offense.

Phillies-VelasquezVince Velasquez (left): D Before being sidelined by a forearm/elbow strain, Velasquez struggled to a 2-5 record with a 5.58 ERA. He continued to throw way too many pitches, which was even a problem last season while he was compiling an 8-2 record before the All-Star break. Velasquez still doesn’t look like he knows how to pitch.

Joaquin Benoit: D The veteran reliever is 1-3 with a 4.41 ERA. He flamed out as a closer, blowing 3 of 4 save opportunities. The Phillies must hope he pitches well during the next two weeks so they can get something for him at the trade deadline.

Brock Stassi: D A great story when he made the team, Stassi’s .178 batting average ruined a happy ending.

Andres Blanco: D An extremely valuable utility player last season, Blanco is batting .151. He has one home run and five RBI in 93 at-bats. That’s not good enough to be a spot starter or short-term fill-in for injured players.

Michael Saunders: F A bust as an offseason signing, Saunders batted .205 with a .257 on-base percentage before being released last month.

Zach Eflin: F Remember how excited everyone was that Eflin was healthy after having surgery on both knees? An 0-3 record and 6.13 ERA in 8 starts dimmed that enthusiasm.

Adam Morgan: F When it’s a pleasant surprise that a pitcher doesn’t give up a run, it’s not a very good sign. Morgan has a 6.23 ERA in 11 appearances.

Jeanmar Gomez: F Last year’s closer, and the recipient of an “A” at this point last season, Gomez was a disaster this season, posting a 7.25 ERA in 18 appearances before being released last month. It’s difficult to believe this is the same pitcher who converted 24 of 26 saves before the All-Star break in 2016.

Edubray Ramos: F An 0-7 record and 5.52 ERA result in an “F” for Ramos, who, understandably, didn’t appear to have any confidence on the mound.

Joely Rodriguez: F Expected to be a reliable left-handed option out of the bullpen, Rodriguez posted a 6.33 ERA before the Phillies sent him to the Rangers in exchange for a bag of used baseballs.

Clay Buchholz: F I don’t normally give grades to players who only pitch in two games, but, when you’re making $13.5 million and you need season-ending surgery after two games, negating any trade value you may have had, you receive an “F.”

Incomplete: Nick Williams, Cameron Perkins, Hoby Milner, Ricardo Pinto, Casey Fien, Jake Thompson

MANAGER

Phillies-MackaninPete Mackanin (left): C- The Phillies overachieved during the first half of last season under Mackanin, but, after an 11-9 start, this year’s team has played historically bad baseball. The roster isn’t Mackanin’s responsibility, which prevents him from getting a “D” or “F,” but he hasn’t had any answers during the Phillies’ downward spiral.

GENERAL MANAGER

Matt Klentak: F The offseason additions of veterans haven’t provided leadership or significant trade value. Clay Buchholz, Michael Saunders, Joaquin Benoit, Howie Kendrick and Daniel Nava might bring back a marginal prospect or two. Klentak’s moves at the trade deadline – will he be able to get something of value for Tommy Joseph or Cesar Hernandez to free up space for Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery? – will provide him with an opportunity to improve his grade.

*****

TAKING THE FIFTH: The American League’s 2-1 victory over the National League in 10 innings was its fifth straight All-Star game victory.

*****

FOOL’S GOLD: Nobody should be fooled by the six-home run outburst in the Phillies’ final game before the All-Star break. The more important thing to remember from that 7-1 victory is that it snapped a five-game losing streak. The losing streak occurred in games with the Pirates and Padres, both of whom have losing records.

*****

NO RELIEF: How can the Nationals have a 52-36 record while having the worst bullpen ERA in baseball. The Nationals should definitely be in the market for a reliever or two before the trade deadline.

*****

NO BREAK AFTER BREAK: The Phillies’ schedule the rest of July appears to be very difficult, with nine of their next 12 games coming against the division-leading Brewers and Astros. The Phillies visit Milwaukee this weekend before continuing their road trip with three games against the Marlins. The NL Central-leading Brewers (50-41), who won eight of their final 10 games before the All-Star break, then come to Citizens Bank Park on Fri., July 21 for the start of a three-game series. Following the Brewers into town will be the Astros, whose record (60-29), the best in the American League, is almost the reverse of the Phillies’ record (29-58).

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