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Phillies Looking to Halt the Regression

Phillies Looking to Halt the Regression
The Phillies were not expected to be contenders this year, but improvement over last year’s 71-91 record was a realistic goal.

Few expected them to take a major step back but that is what is happening during a nightmarish last several weeks. The Phillies dropped to 17-32 and lost for the 23rd time in 29 games following Monday’s 4-1 loss at Miami.

The offense has gone silent and the pitching staff, which started well, has regressed.

While many are looking for help from the minor leagues, it must be noted that three pitches for the IronPIgs have struggled with the Phillies.

Zach Eflin just got optioned to Triple-A after posting a 6.13 ERA in eight starts. Jake Thompson had a 9.00 ERA but in all fairness, that came in three relief appearances, so it’s too small a sample size. Plus Thompson is a starter, although last year he had a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts with the Phillies.

Nick Pivetta had a 5.14 ERA in four starts this season.

IronPigs righthander Ben Lively could be the next player called up. He entered the week 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA.

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The Phillies have to keep looking for solutions.

And the offense has been as disappointing as the pitching. Maikel Franco, considered the centerpiece of this rebuilding team, has looked lost at the plate and saw his average drop to .209 after Monday’s loss.

Odubel Herrera, an all-star last year, was benched on Monday after his average dropped to .217.

Right now only three Phillies are performing capably on offense – second baseman Cesar Hernandez, outfielder Aaron Altherr and first baseman Tommy Joseph.

Hernandez, however has slumped. He was hitting as high as .346 in mid-April, and was at .286 after Monday’s loss. Altherr and Joseph both shared the team lead with eight home runs, with Altherr batting .304 and Joseph up to .252 after a horrendous April, where he hit .179.

The bullpen has had its ups and down, while the rotation hasn’t matched its quick start of April in May. Jeremy Hellickson (5-3, 4.45 ERA) was performing like a No. 1 pitcher earlier in the season. He was 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA during five April starts.

Aaron Nola (2-2, 4.34) missed time with a back injury. He looked great in allowing just one run over seven innings in a 1-0 loss at Pittsburgh, but in his most recent start, he allowed five earned runs in six innings of a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

And keep in mind, that Hellickson and Nola have been the Phillies best two starting pitchers, which tells one of the team’s struggles.

This is a team that won six in a row earlier this season and right now a number of players have to regain their confidence, not the easiest thing to do at the Major League level.

The veterans will likely get more time to snap out of it, but if the month of June rivals the month of May for the Phillies, one can expect major lineup changes, with several prominent players from the IronPigs possibly getting a chance.

Photo Crdit: Frank Romeo / Shutterstock.com

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Author: Marc Narducci

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