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5 biggest reasons Philly sports fans need to worry

All four major sports teams in Philly are giving fans headaches. What specifically should be the most worrisome aspects of the current spell of lackluster play?
The Phillies had high hopes for Vince Velasquez when the season began. (Credit/Getty Images)

It’s no secret to anyone — be they a Philadelphia sports fan or an interested onlooker — that things in the typically proud City of Brotherly Love have been rough lately.

No local major sports team made a playoff appearance over the last 12 months, and it’s been more than five years since the last time one of them won a playoff series (the 2012 Sixers over the Bulls).

With no shortage of sources for frustration, here’s a cheat sheet for fans to prioritize their anger and anxiety as we take a look at the five most woeful situations across the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers landscapes:

Backsliding Phillies

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The standings often don’t tell the truth when it comes to gauging the actual performance of a baseball team. In the case of the 18-35 (heading into Sunday) Phillies, the standings actually do a good job of portraying the dismal start to the 2017 season for the supposed upswing Phils.

Once thought to be concrete building blocks for a budding contender, Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera have regressed in worrisome manners, with each becoming liabilities on both sides of the field.

The offense is a miserable fourth to last among major league squads in total runs scored, hitting just .242 on the year, good enough to fall in the bottom third of all teams despite impressive individual performances from Aaron Altheer and Cesar Hernandez. The front office seems firmly entrenched in keeping its minor league prospects put for the time being, but sooner or later something needs to change.

Eagles secondary

On paper the Eagles secondary isn’t the embarrassing failure many fans hyperbolize it to be. Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are among the best in the NFL and the team has made a big investment in the future, taking stud cornerback Sidney Jones in the second round of the NFL draft back in April.

But Jones is at least six months or so away from contributing as he recovers from a torn Achilles, and the safeties can only do so much.

Pitting themselves against some potent offenses laden with high-powered receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant, the Eagles will rely heavily on sophomore Jalen Mills, proven veteran Patrick Robinson and rookie Rasul Douglas to keep them in games this fall.

Flyers goalie situation

It is entirely possible the Flyers will enter the 2017-18 season without either of their recent staples in net — as Steve Mason will need a new contract and Michal Neuvirth could be snatched away by Las Vegas in the upcoming expansion draft.

Farm team options, which include Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier, are risks and the free agent market offers few guarantees.

All of this serves undoubtedly to make Flyers fans nervous as the team looks to figure out how to contend again next season, looking to preserve the legacies of Claude Giroux and company in the face of disappointing shortcomings.

Putrid pitching

The Phillies have the worst pitching staff (4.92 team ERA) in baseball and a bullpen to match.

With the offense sputtering, last year’s talented staff, led by Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez, has been regressing just as the rest of the team has in recent weeks.

The young arms have not panned out — though a fantastic debut from Ben Lively on Saturday did give hope — and makeshift ace Jeremy Hellickson is all but assured to be flipped at the trade deadline this summer for prospects.

Pitching coach Bob McClure is feeling the heat and could be unemployed if things don’t start to improve as the weather gets warm.

Process relief

Who would have guessed the least anxiety-fueling Philly team would be the futile Sixers, who have lost a combined 253 games (out of a total of 328) over the last four seasons?

Joel Embiid appears to be the future of the franchise (if he stays healthy of course) and last year’s No. 1 overall pick has been dunking shirtless on Instagram, implying he’s healthy and ready to contribute come next season.

A handful of excellent and reliable role players have emerged as well in Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Richuan Holmes.

All that’s left is for the current front office, led by Bryan Colangelo, to make the right choice with the third overall pick in two weeks. It’s a big leap of faith, but if the team’s behind the scenes decision makers can get out of their own way, a winning season isn’t far off.

 
 
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