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If the Phillies season opener wasn’t an omen for how the rest of the season would play out, I don’t know what is. In case you don’t remember the Phillies built a 5-0 lead over the Atlanta Braves before an inexperienced manager Gabe Kapler pulled the Phillies ace Aaron Nola in the midst of a dominating performance after just 68 pitches. The bullpen quickly imploded, and the Phillies lost 8-5.
The Phillies are currently 32-28 (10-15 vs. the NL East) and are sliding in the wrong direction. To make matters worse, the Phillies play a gauntlet of playoff contenders through the month of June against the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Nationals, Rockies, and the Yankees. A month that could end the Phillies young playoff hopes.
It’s only June though, there’s plenty of season left right?
That may be the case for some in the MLB, however, the Phillies locker room doesn’t appear to be one that can bounce back. Coupled with youth, and frustration the Phillies locker room appears to have already turned their backs on their manager. Nick Williams one of the Phillies young talented outfielders spoke out against Kapler “I guess the computers are making (the decision), I don’t know” Williams said to reporters of Philly.com. “I don’t get any of it but what can I do? I’m not going to complain about it because I have zero power. I’m just letting it ride.” Williams’ playing time was severely cut after the comment, as he was forced into a bench role shortly after.
Williams is one of the young talented Phillies the ballclub wants to see develop into a top outfielder to pair with Odubel Herrera. It will be hard for Williams to develop, however, with limited time in a starting role.
Jake Arrieta has also spoken out “overall it’s just a horses*** series” after getting swept in San Francisco. His frustrations were over defensive shifts. One has to think that Gabe Kapler would have these shifts nailed down in practice. These shifts should have been perfected in Spring Training, and definitely by June.
Kapler was a questionable hire for the Phillies, because John Farrell, Dusty Baker, and Joe Girardi were all experiened managers on the market, and all were coming off postseason runs. An experienced manager could’ve helped develop the Phillies young team.
General Manager Matt Klentak’s biggest offseason bat acquisition might have the most negative effects on the team. Carlos Santana is hitting a mere .220, and his presence has forced young Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins to left field. That has, in turn, forced the Phillies to platoon outfielders Aaron Altherr, and Williams which is not good for a young players development.
The platoon issue has also reached the Phillies infield with Scott Kingery, Maikel Franco, and J.P. Crawford. Crawford is hitting a low .182, and his numbers suggest he isn’t ready for the big leagues, however, his presence has taken quality playing time away from Kingery and Franco.
The Phillies have issues behind the plate as well. Despite catcher Jorge Alfaro hitting .252 and possessing a lethal weapon in his arm, he has had to share time with Andrew Knapp who is hitting .169 and has several passed balls to his name… Not to mention multiple catcher's interferences.
These are issues a manager with zero MLB coaching experience can’t solve. The season is young, however, the competition only gets tougher from here. At the start of the season, I had the Phillies as a wild card contender, and I believe the talent is there for the team to contend…
That being said, I think the Phillies slide to fourth place after the month of June, and won’t be able to battle back into contention with Gabe Kapler calling the shots. It’ll be interesting to see what moves the Phillies make at the trade deadline whether they depart with one of their outfielders Williams, Altherr, or infielders Kingery, Franco, or Crawford.