Swept by Cubs, Phils seek path to jump-starting bats

July 24th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Nothing has changed. The Phillies should be buyers before the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline.

Ironically, they could be buying from the Cubs.

Chicago is way out of the playoff hunt with the fifth-worst record in the Majors (38-57), so it would not be a surprise to see the Phillies take a run at a few Cubs players, including relief pitchers David Robertson and Mychal Givens, starting pitcher Drew Smyly and outfielder/infielder Ian Happ. But the Cubs just swept the Phils in a three-game series coming out of the All-Star break, including Sunday’s 4-3 Chicago victory at Citizens Bank Park.

It was the Cubs’ first series sweep of the season.

It was the Phillies’ seventh loss in 10 games.

“It’s a three-game narrative right now,” Kyle Schwarber said. “It’s not an indication of us.”

But the injuries to Bryce Harper and Jean Segura have been catching up to the offense lately. Harper has not played since he broke his left thumb on June 25. Segura has not played since he broke his right index finger on May 31.

The Phillies ranked ninth in the Majors, averaging 4.71 runs per game through June 25.

They rank 28th in the Majors, averaging 3.00 runs per game, in their last 14 games.

Harper said Sunday that recent X-rays have looked good, but that he cannot say anything else about his recovery. He is scheduled to see his doctor Monday. There is a possibility he has the pins removed from his thumb. If it happens, he can ramp up activities.

Segura could begin a rehab assignment as early as Tuesday. If it happens, he said he could be back as early as Aug. 4.

In the meantime, the Phillies need to find ways to score more runs.

“We’re fighting, scratching, clawing right now,” Schwarber said. “We have to keep doing what we were doing. Right? The consistent work. We can’t just look at the results of a series and say, ‘We need to reach for this, we need to swing more out of the zone.’ Do what we were doing. We saw the results were there right before the break.”

Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson on Sunday made his first significant lineup changes since he replaced former skipper Joe Girardi on June 3. Thomson dropped Schwarber from first to second, Rhys Hoskins from second to third and Nick Castellanos from third to fifth.

“If it’s going to jump-start it, it’s going to jump-start it,” Schwarber said. “I wouldn’t say just because it didn’t work one time, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to work the next time. I don’t think that we’re out there searching for ghosts. It’s a good team and we’re going to be prepared going into this next series.”

Schwarber had hit leadoff every game since May 28. Hoskins had hit second in all but one game since Girardi’s final game as manager on June 1. Castellanos had hit third every game since Harper broke his thumb. Castellanos’ struggles, though, prompted this adjustment. He hit .329 with three home runs, 11 RBIs and a .921 OPS in 19 games through April 27, but .226 with five homers, 35 RBIs and a .591 OPS in 75 games since. He entered Sunday last out of 154 qualified players in baseball with a -1.2 WAR, according to FanGraphs.

Thomson said he dropped Castellanos in the lineup “to take a little pressure off.”

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Thomson said. “I’m still confident that he’s going to be where we need him to be. I really am.”

The Phillies trailed in the fifth, 4-0. Bryson Stott’s double and Alec Bohm’s single scored a run in the fifth. Garrett Stubbs’ single and heads-up baserunning and Rhys Hoskins’ single scored a run in the sixth. Stubbs’ fourth homer of the season cut the Cubs’ lead to one in the eighth.

But the Phillies couldn’t get the game-tying run to score. They had runners on first and second with one out in the ninth, but Robertson retired Didi Gregorius and Stubbs to end it.

It was Robertson’s 14th save of the season. He signed a two-year, $23 million contract with the Phillies before 2019. He pitched just 6 2/3 innings in two years because of an injured right elbow.

It would be something if he rejoined the Phils in the coming days.

In the meantime, they need to hit, beginning Monday against the Braves.