The Phillies’ preseason challenges on the plate continue in Miami – The Athletic

MIAMI — As Nick Nelson threw his eighth straight ball to start the sixth inning, Joe Girardi leaned forward with his left foot on the top step of the dugout. He looked down, spat out some sunflower seeds, and sauntered over to Caleb Cotham, the pitching coach. The game was decided long ago on Friday evening. Girardi looked at his card. Cotham checked his hand. There was no call to make to the bullpen because they knew they would need everyone over the next two days as Ranger Suárez and Zack Wheeler couldn’t line up at full workloads.

So they ran out of time. The eighth game of the season was reduced to fingers crossed so no one got hurt and pitchers could be saved for later.

It’s possible the Phillies will look back on this and laugh five months from now. They played 5 percent of their schedule and there was more bad than good. The pitching and defense weren’t flawless. But those weren’t the strengths of this squad. The lineup was designed to survive some dips as it is a deep unit meant to prevent prolonged droughts. And compared to the rest of the sport, so has it. The Phillies are mid-table in most offensive categories. They still carry a top 10 slugging percentage.

“I really think we’ll score,” Girardi said after a 7-1 defeat. “It’s just… there are other teams that are going through this. And we’re going through it right now.”

Kyle Schwarber is 1 for his last 27. The Phillies’ preseason challenges on the plate continue in Miami – The Athletic

Olly Dawes

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