The Philadelphia Phillies have a 28-30 record, enough for third place in the National League East division.
They are only four games behind the leaders, the New York Mets, but it’s clear they haven’t played well to this point.
The fans, therefore, have their reasons to be upset about a team that has Bryce Harper and some of the best starters in the National League not being able to even break .500.
Here are three of those reasons.
3. Spencer Howard Handling And Lack Of Progress
For a couple of years now, Spencer Howard has been the Phillies’ best pitching prospect.
He is armed with a mid-90s fastball, an excellent changeup, and a good slider.
However, the Phillies have been mishandling him and messing with his role.
They had announced a couple of months ago that he would be a multi-inning reliever.
He is now starting games.
For the season, he has taken part in six games, three of them as a starter.
His 4.61 ERA is troublesome, and his issues stem from a lack of control (17.2 percent walk rate) and an inability to work deep in games.
It’s now become a routine that Howards touches 98 miles per hour in the first inning or two, only to see his velocity decrease to 93-94 from that point on.
That may be blamed on the pitcher’s own stamina limitations but also on the team for its lack of a concrete plan for him.
Add Spencer Howard to the list of Phillies prospects who were mishandled and eventually ended up being terrible at the major league level.
— Clay Sauertieg (@ByCSauertieg) June 5, 2021
A healthy and effective Howard would be a big piece in the Phillies rotation, but he hasn’t panned out.
2. The Emergence Of The Mets As A Powerhouse In The Division
The Mets had their moments of competitiveness with the Wilpons in charge, especially in 2006 and, most notably, in 2015 when they advanced to the World Series.
But the Wilpons never showed the willingness to spend money on the team that current owner Steve Cohen is showing.
Cohen, a hedge fund billionaire and a lifelong Mets fan, has invested time, resources, and money to field one of the most competitive rosters in MLB.
This has, of course, resulted in the Mets currently being in first place of the NL East division.
That is good for the Mets, of course, and baseball, but bad for the Phillies.
Philadelphia has a good team, but not as good as the Mets or even the Atlanta Braves.
Phillies fans always expect them to be competitive, but it’s getting harder for them in a division with a wealthy owner, a team with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman as centerpieces, and an up-and-coming roster full of talented arms like the Marlins, not to mention the 2019 World Champions, the Washington Nationals.
1. A Bottom-Tier Bullpen
The Mets’ presence in the division and Howard’s lack of progress are reasons for Phillies fans to be upset to this point, but the inability to put together a strong bullpen may top the list.
So far, the righty has a 4.82 ERA in 9.1 innings.
In his last seven games, Bradley has an ugly 8/3 BB/K ratio.
Back-to-back walks by Archie Bradley after a 7-run inning for the Phillies. Not what you want to see.
He continues to struggle. 18 baserunners in 8⅓ innings.
— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) June 6, 2021
He needs to improve if the Phillies are going to make some noise.
The unit, as a whole, has the eighth-worst ERA in the league at 4.54.