When the 2014 Philadelphia Phillies took the field for the first spring training game many fans didn’t expect much. Somehow though, without even realizing it, many of us hung onto hope that the positive words from the locker room about being able to compete this season had some truth to them. After all the dynasty has not officially ended since the core has remained the same.
Halfway through the season now, even the most optimistic fan can now see things are over. These are the three biggest reasons why the 2014 Philadelphia Phillies are struggling and will not be able to salvage the season.
Bad On-Base Percentage
Whenever the Phillies are in town the bases get a rest. Beginning with leadoff hitter Ben Revere all the way through the middle of the lineup to include Ryan Howard and down, this is a team that struggles to get on base. Only Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley have exceled in this category. As flawed as his game has become, Jimmy Rollins has actually been a little more patient at the plate which has increased his on-base percentage. Other than those three the team has left the bases more vacant than the Bates Motel on a rainy evening. You can’t win games if you don’t score runs. You can’t score runs if you don’t have men on base. A big part of the rebuilding process for the Phillies should be finding men who get on base above anything else. This is an ongoing problem and a key to a successful franchise.
Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee Injuries
Down to two aces, the Phillies were depending on Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee to make up for the rest of the rotation’s shortcomings. Hamels began the season on the disabled list which immediately held the team back from getting off to a good start. He has pitched well even in spite of the poor run-support. Lee has his own injury problems in 2014, missing the second half of May and all of June. For a team with such a weak offense it’s no mystery that with these two men down they find themselves nibbling at the bottom of the National League East. As it turns out these two dominant lefties have only been healthy at the same time for about a week all season long. In order to win they need to be pitching together, not apart.
When the rest of the roster struggles or goes down with an injury it’s important to have players able and willing to step up. Unfortunately for the Phillies they have a terrible bench. Low batting averages, a lack of power, and the ability to swing through strikes are all ways to describe the extra players the Phillies are forced to turn to whenever their starters need a break. The bullpen has outperformed their duties in 2014; one of the few positives of the season. However this is useless when by the time Manager Ryne Sandberg calls upon them the team is down 5-0 and just hoping to get two men on base at a time. The lack of quality pinch hitters makes it far more difficult to come from behind, something the Phillies never seem to do anymore.
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