Despite losses, Phils confident: 'We're in this'

September 15th, 2020

The Phillies flew home to Philadelphia on Monday night, thinking about what happened to them in Miami and possibly wondering where they will be in October if they continue to play like this.

The Phils lost a lot of players to injury in Miami. They lost a lot of games, too.

The Phillies dropped the series finale at Marlins Park, 6-2. Miami beat them five times in the five-day, seven-game series. Philadelphia entered the set hoping to bury the Marlins in the National League East standings, secure its second-place status and possibly pressure the Braves for first. Instead, the Phils (23-23) have lost eight of 12 to fall to .500 for the first time since Aug. 31.

If the Phillies expect to turn their season around, they will do it without first baseman Rhys Hoskins and right-hander Spencer Howard until at least Sept. 23, catcher J.T. Realmuto for at least a couple more days and right-hander Zack Wheeler until at least Wednesday or Thursday.

“To be honest,” said Realmuto, who is nursing a strained left hip flexor, “I’m pretty confident right now that we’re going to be just fine. I know it was a pretty tough series here in Miami for us, but I’m confident that when we get back home, we’ll get back going in the right direction. We just have to get back on the field, get healthy. I know it sounds repetitive, but we just have to play better. That's what it comes down to. No matter who is on the field, guys have to step up and we have to win games. Right now, we’re in a playoff spot and we really haven’t played very well. We just need to play better. That’s what it comes down to.”

Realmuto is not wrong. If the season ended Monday, the Phillies would make the eight-team NL postseason as the No. 7 seed, which matters. The Giants are 23-24, good for the No. 8 seed. The eighth seed will play the No. 1 seed, which is currently the Dodgers, in the best-of-three first-round Wild Card Series.

Nobody wants to play L.A. in the first round.

“I think it would be non-human to not be frustrated, but obviously we’re still in a sense in control of our own destiny to get to the playoffs,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “And our guys can’t forget that. We won’t forget that. We’ve been here before where we haven’t played so well and we bounced back and played really well, and that’s what we need to do.”

“We’re in this,” said.

It will not be easy without Hoskins and Realmuto. After a slow start, Hoskins batted .275 with nine home runs, 19 RBIs and a 1.011 OPS in his past 19 games. He has hit second 41 times this season. Realmuto batted .267 with 11 homers, 30 RBIs and an .883 OPS this season. He has hit cleanup 38 times.

They are not the only injured players. Jay Bruce (.854 OPS, six home runs) can be activated from the 10-day IL as early as Wednesday. Roman Quinn (.649 OPS, eight stolen bases) can be activated as soon as he is ready to return from his concussion.

The offense needs help, but without reinforcements, it needs others to step up. The Phillies scored four runs in 23 innings in their past three games; two of those came on solo homers from Andrew McCutchen and Scott Kingery on Monday. The combination of the struggling offense, a rotation without two of its five starters (Wheeler and Howard) and a bullpen that has a 7.51 ERA since it acquired four relievers before the Trade Deadline is not a recipe for success.

“This is the life we live,” Girardi said. “This roller coaster in this game of baseball. You have good streaks and you have bad streaks, and you have to limit the length of your bad streaks. We have to find a way to go out and win a game tomorrow. It’s not going to get any easier, but that’s baseball. This is what it is. That’s why this game can be so frustrating sometimes. Because you get in these roller coasters, but we’ve bounced back before and we need to do it again.”

Up next
Right-hander Jake Arrieta (3-4, 5.54 ERA) faces the Mets on Tuesday night in the first game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies are leaning on Arrieta for some big innings in the next couple weeks, especially with Howard landing on the 10-day IL and so much uncertainty surrounding Wheeler. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET, live on MLB.TV.