Go on Twitter or any Facebook Phillies group and you will see fans on both sides of the fence. Some are already saying the Bryce Harper signing was a mistake. Others are being patient? Wait, that can’t be, patience is not the trait of a Philly Fan. ESPN and the like have told me so….
The truth is that Harper is in one of, if not the worst slump of his career at the plate. He is struggling to hit the ball having gone 0-14 going into last nights game. Over the last 7 games, he has 3 hits in 23 at-bats. His average has dropped to .222 and he leads the team with 57 strikeouts. However, this is what Harper does:
That being said, Harper still has the second highest On Base Percentage (OBP) of the regular starters. Only Cesar Hernandez has a higher OBP. Harper also leads the team with 10 doubles, is second on the team with 7 HR and tied for third on the team with 25 RBI. Oh, and is playing really good defense.
Harper still is a threat that has to be dealt with. This is evident by how Segura and Hoskins are hitting in that Harper makes those around him better. Harper will be fine, however, maybe a rest or a change is in order. How about bumping him up one spot, and moving Segura to the three spot? However that being said as Harper struggled, the Phillies have been playing winning baseball up to this series.
Runners in Scoring Position
There seems to be a correlation between the Phillies leaving runners in scoring position, and letting up runs the very next inning. This was evident last night as the Phils had a man on first and second with no outs. The Phils came away with nothing. The very next inning the Brewers put up a crooked number, scoring three. Now, Arrieta has to be better. Walking the first two batters, including the pitcher, is never good.
This seems to be a trend when the Phillies face a good hitting team. In fact, teamrankings.com shows that the Phillies are the worst team in MLB leaving 4.07 runners in scoring position per game. Imagine what the record could be if they drop that number.
I have been saying this for a bit, albeit to myself, the Phillies are looking at a lot of strikes. As anyone who played baseball growing up knows, with two strikes you have to swing at anything close. Do not leave it up to the umpire. The Phils have been looking at a lot of called third strikes. Just take last night, the Phils batters were caught looking three times. However, there were quite a few batters that were taking pitches that were really close. With the inconsistency in the umpiring, and with two strikes, the batters need to put together an at-bat like JT Realmuto did when he fouled off about 5 pitches before getting a base hit.
Before I get into this, how about that play by Rhys Hoskins? The Athleticism of the big man is insane.
However, the defense was garbage last night. Missed plays, bad decisions and just dropping fly balls is something that can’t happen, especially against a team like the Brewers.
As the Phillies look ahead to a brutal schedule for the rest of May, they really need Harper to start swinging the stick and limit the mental mistakes. The pitching also needs to be better. At this point, Phillies fans don’t need to panic or send the “Harper is a bust” tweet. The Phillies are still in first place, and I feel their best baseball is ahead of them. I think it is time to take a deep breath and relax. They will get the win today and split the series. RING THE BELL!