By the Associated Press
If the Cubs and Astros are examples of rebuilding done right, the Phillies are proof that it isn’t so easy.
The Phils have dropped 11 of 12 and are on pace to lose 110 games. There’s still time for the Phillies to show some progress in 2017, but after four straight years with at least 89 losses, this is shaping up to be another step back – and a reminder that young players don’t always develop as teams might hope.
The Phillies were swept at home by Arizona this weekend, with two of the three losses by one run.
“Obviously, the numbers speak for themselves,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “The thing is, we’ve played a lot of these teams tough. We played these guys, they have a heck of a good team. We played the Red Sox tough for four games. We played the Cubs tough. We played a lot of good teams tough – the Dodgers. We just fall short. There’s a little something missing and we just need to take it a step further.”
Long removed from the days when they ruled the NL East behind Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and a sparkling pitching staff, the Phillies now rely on several players born in the 1990s. Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph and Odubel Herrera all showed potential in 2016, but they’ve struggled this season, with Herrera and Franco posting on-base percentages below .300.
And that’s not even the biggest problem. Phillies starters are 12-30 with a 5.10 ERA, and the back of the bullpen has been in flux since the beginning of the season. Vince Velasquez, who looked so impressive at the beginning of last season, is 2-5 with a 5.58 ERA.
The malaise has extended to the minor leagues, where top prospect J.P. Crawford has hit .194 in 56 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies will have to hope their younger players are simply going through some temporary growing pains, but right now, the situation is grim.