The Philadelphia Phillies are currently struggling along to the tune of a 5-6 record here in the early going of the 2020 Major League Baseball season. For many fans, the largely ineffective bullpen has been the main culprit.
While it is a truth that only three or four relief pitchers have proven reliable to this point for manager Joe Girardi‘s squad, the fact of the matter is that a bigger problem for this team has been the failure of half of its regular starting lineup to produce anything.
The DH position aside, four of the players who start nearly every day for the Phillies are doing little to nothing at all with nearly 20% of the 60 game schedule gone.
Hoskins is slashing .188/.435/.250 with two doubles, no home runs, and just one run batted in over 46 plate appearances.
Kingery is slashing .114/.184/.114 with no extra-base hits, one RBI, and just four singles to show for his 38 plate appearances. He was one of the few Phillies to actually contract the COVID-19 coronavirus. While healthy generally, his body could possibly still be recovering to a premier athletic level.
Segura is slashing .188/.333/.281 over 39 plate appearances. He stole his first base in Sunday’s doubleheader opener and homered for the first time during Monday night’s Phillies offensive barrage. That was and remains his first extra-base hit of the year.
McCutchen is slashing .133/.206/.167 with one double and two RBIs over 34 plate appearances to this point.
All together, those four key Phillies hitters have gone 20-129 with one home run and six RBIs through the club’s first 11 games. That comes out to a cumulative .155 batting average.
At least Hoskins (a club-leading 13) and Segura (7) are reaching base, thanks to their high walks totals. Only Bryce Harper (8) is in their neighborhood on this team where the batting eye is concerned.
While many fans have gotten on Hoskins via social media, and a few have begun to jump all over Kingery, the fact remains that all four deserve just as much criticism as any of the group.
The Phillies appear to have a much improved starting pitching rotation. Zack Wheeler has been added to a return-to-form Aaron Nola, a healthy Jake Arrieta, a more confident and experienced Zach Eflin, and uber-rookie Spencer Howard.
The bullpen has actually received mostly solid work thus far from closer Hector Neris and veteran relievers Jose Alvarez and Tommy Hunter. The odds are that Girardi will be able to keep churning up the bottom until he finds three or four more who can prove at least big-league average.
But no matter how solid the Phillies pitching is or becomes, unless or until at least a couple of those now dormant bats begin to thump, the ball club will continue to find it difficult to push much beyond the .500 mark at which they finished a year ago and at which they are languishing to this point in the current season.