With just a few weeks remaining, the 2018 regular season is nearing its end. However, as the season winds down the race for the playoffs is just starting to heat up.
The Phillies find themselves 3.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East with 23 games to play. 23 more games means there is still plenty of time to catch Braves when considering they have seven more games against them.
The Phillies have been chasing the Braves for a few weeks now but have been struggling in their attempt to gain ground. Most of those struggles can be attributed to a lack of offense which has been a problem most of the year but is just recently starting to haunt them.
In a home series against the Chicago Cubs last weekend, the Phillies scored just four runs and lost two of three games. On the road in Miami in their last series, the Phillies scored only one run in each of the two games they lost in the three-game series.
While the Phillies were struggling with the basement dwelling Marlins, the Braves hosted the MLB win leading Red Sox and we’re promptly swept in a three-game series. With a seemingly prime opportunity to make up ground on their division foes, the Phillies wasted it.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been just the last two series where the offense has severely struggled. They have been cold for the better part of the last month and combined with a struggling bullpen, the team hasn’t won a series since a four-game sweep of the Marlins in the first week of August.
It’s hard to name any all the factors that have caused their offensive struggles but it’s easy to see some of them. One of the most glaring factors is the slump that Rhys Hoskins has found himself in. In his last 24 games, Rhys is slashing .209/.310/.407 with five homeruns and 12 RBIs. Those are hardly good numbers for one of the team’s biggest offensive stars.
Rhys isn’t the only star with a cold bat. Odubel Herrera is still trying to work his way out of a slump. Over Odubel’s last 18 games, he is slashing .197/.234/.311 with just four RBIs. Those numbers are a far cry from the red hot Odubel we saw for much of the first half of the season.
His struggles over the past few weeks have not only hurt his numbers for the season but have also cut into his playing time. Kapler has increasingly started Roman Quinn over Odubel in centerfield, primarily due to Quinn’s scorching hot bat lately. If there is anything that might help jump start the offense, starting Quinn is it. He is hitting .321 with a .571 slugging percentage over his last 10 games.
Currently, Quinn is one of the bright spots of the lineup as much of the rest of it is struggling just as much as Hoskins and Odubel. The trade acquisitions of Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, and Justin Bour were meant to bring offense to the team, but they haven’t done enough to change the team’s fortunes.
Cabrera has contributed but is swinging a rather cold bat since joining the Phillies. Ramos is clearly the elite hitter the Phillies needed but both him and Bour have struggled to stay healthy.
Tonight begins a huge series against another division rival, the New York Mets. With it, comes a very good opportunity as the Braves are beginning a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Arizona. There is no secret that Phillies are playing a significantly worse team than the Braves, but does that mean they will be able take advantage and gain ground in NL East? The answer to that almost certainly centers around the Phillies ability to get the offense going when they need it most.
Throughout the last few years, I have been writing for several different websites, eagerly trying to get my articles out there. I began covering a variety of sports at The Sports Haven and then eventually landed a writing position covering the PGA Tour on Fansided’s ProGolfNow. Although both great experiences, my passion lies with the Philadelphia Phillies. I am grateful to Sports Are Philly for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the Phillies.
You can also catch me on ForTheGloryOfOldState.com covering Penn State football.