If the Cubs and Astros are examples of rebuilding done right, the Philadelphia Phillies are proof that it isn’t so easy.
Philadelphia has dropped 11 of 12 and is 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.
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
BACK IN IT?
The Kansas City Royals looked headed to their own rebuilding phase after a poor start, but thanks to a quick turnaround and a mediocre division, they’re only 3 1/2 games out of first place. The Royals can thank first-place Cleveland, which is only 36-31 even after winning five in a row, for keeping them in it, but if the Indians pick up the pace, the rest of the AL Central may have a hard time keeping up.
Kansas City just won seven of nine on a road trip out west, racking up wins against the Padres, Giants and Angels.
Enrique Hernandez has shown a bit of pop for the Dodgers this season with 17 doubles, and he contributed a defensive gem Sunday with his leaping catch of Joey Votto’s drive in the eighth inning. With two on and two out, Hernandez made the grab while falling back into the wall in left field. The Dodgers went on to win 8-7 over Cincinnati.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Colorado’s Nolan Arenado hit for the cycle Sunday in one of the most dramatic ways possible. His final swing was a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth that gave the Rockies a 7-5 win over San Francisco. Colorado has the best record in the National League.
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