Just under a month ago, the Phillies were down around two games out of first. Just over a week ago, the Braves lost five in a row, and seemed to let the Phillies back in for one more shot at the NL East. The Phillies lead the NL East for the bulk of the Summer, and were once fifteen games over .500. The Phillies left for their final road trip of the season eight days ago at 78-73. It feels like that was long ago.
The Phillies are 78-81 now, going into the final series of 2018. They were among baseball’s worst teams in the final two months of the season. They just went 0-8 on a road trip. Worse yet, the Phillies looked uncompetitive on the trip, losing the first three games in Colorado while giving up over ten runs a game. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the Phillies were throwing the games on this trip.
The Phillies achieved something amazing this year: their first 155 games were all played with a chance to make the post-season, and yet they can’t win more than half of their games. They managed to improve by at least twelve games over last season and yet finish so badly that they left a bad taste in your mouth. They managed to improve by 12 games while being much worse offensively and defensively. They have a line-up where nearly every position hit double digits in homers, yet they fell way off offensively from 2017. The bullpen was very good, even though everyone they tried at closer stunk. The team made no sense.
The Phillies spent almost the entire season contending for the playoffs, and yet they’re going to finish more than any one player’s worth out of the playoffs. After Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins, name me another player you want to definitely keep. Tell me you wouldn’t even entertain firing the manager and GM, even though the team is 12 games improved over 2017. Tell me what part of this team couldn’t use improving.
The Phillies have some major advantages going into the off-season- a low payroll, lots of money, excess of starting pitching, and a good minor league system. They’ll need to use those advantages actively this Winter. They have some raw ingredients of a good team, but clearly in hindsight, they weren’t close to good. Maybe the positive season we thought happened, in fact did not.