The only thing that can make Phillies fans feel better about their team having the second worst pitching staff in baseball is that the Mets have the worst one. But that logic gets shot to hell when looking at the standings, as the Phils are once again bringing up the rear in the NL East.
Through 37 games, the Phillies have the second worst ERA in the majors at 4.82 (the Mets have an ERA of 5.13). They also have one of the three worst batting averages against — which comes as no surprise to anyone watching the squad try to tight rope walk inning after inning with runners on base.
Despite an influx of a few key young pitching prospects like Zach Eflin (who was brutally battered in a loss in Texas this past week) and Nick Pivetta who has been average in the bullpen. So for a team that has continued to impress with above average offense, their pitching has put some impressive hitting performances from Aaron Altherr, Cesar Hernandez and others to waste.
Newly extended manager Pete Mackanin is feeling frustrated.
"I sound like a broken record," Mackanin said Wednesday in a loss to the Rangers (that saw Philly allow 17 hits). "The command isn't there. The ball is up in the zone and the secondary pitches, you need command of them. We've seen them do it before. We won six in a row before this little stretch here. It's early in the season. I'm not going to assume we're this bad. I know we're not."
The Phillies will continue to grind this weekend, as they finish up a long road trip with a trio of games against cross-state rivals the Pirates before playing seven games at home next week.
Facing struggles of their own, the Pirates could be a good stop for the Phillies as they look to stop the bleeding and return to winning ways before heading back to Citizens Bank Park to host the Rockies and Reds. Jeremy Hellickson is just who they'll want on the mound for Game 1 of the Pittsburgh series, at 7:05 on CSN. He'll be opposed by Trevor Williams.
Vincent Velasquez will take the mound opposite Ivan Nova in the second game Saturday before the welcome return of Aaron Nola off the disabled list to start Sunday's Matinee. Nola was stellar in a rehab start last week after missing a month of action, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings.