At what point does someone’s figurative head roll?
The Phillies have just three wins in May and haven’t won consecutive games since April 26-27, yet nothing has changed. In that span, the team did re-up manager Pete Mackanin despite their losing ways, although perhaps not as much to the fault of Mackanin as is to the team’s pitching coach, Bob McClure.
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It’s not often you see so much attention placed on a pitching coach in May, but the past week has seen some questions being raised about what exactly McClure is doing for these young arms. The club sports a 4.86 ERA, which is the second worst in the National League. The starting pitchers also have among the fewest quality starts in baseball with just 15 as of Sunday’s game.
It’s expected that younger pitchers will hit rough patches at some point in the first year or two, but typically the mistakes they make in the beginning wound up being corrected shortly thereafter.
That doesn’t seem to be the case for this Phillies team and in an organization where many of their prized prospects reside in the starting rotation.
Take Vince Velasquez as the primary example. There’s no question that the 24-year-old has some pretty nasty stuff in his repertoire but the clear issue that everyone can see is his pitching command and the fact that he can never get past the fifth inning. Since the start of last season, nothing seems to have changed with Velasquez or his command.
If anything, he’s only gotten worse with locating pitches. He’s pitched past the sixth inning just twice this season and hasn’t made it past the first out of the fifth inning in three of his four starts this month.
According to FanGraphs, the Phillies starters have pitched just 217.2 innings, which ranks 27th in the league. The starters also have a 4.84 ERA.
The real issue, though, has to be the bullpen where McClure’s loss of control really seems to have hit the hardest. Their 4.90 ERA is among the highest in baseball while the 12 losses tagged to the bullpen is the second most. Their also giving up home runs at a higher clip than any other bullpen.
McClure may not have a ton to work with in the later innings, but there has to be some blame placed on him for the pitching woes in that area and the growing concern that the team’s young arms aren’t developing as smoothly as they should be.
Much of the fate of the Phillies’ rebuilding process rests on the development of these arms and if they’re not getting the proper coaching, then it’s time to find someone who can bring out the best in them and fix those mistakes.
Right now, McClure is quickly losing his grasp on that position.