The Phillies have hired Roberto Duran as a consultant for the remainder of the season. His advice: "No mas."
Former smokers across America are offering free advice to the Phillies: "Quit."
Recently retired Buffalo Bills cornerback Vontae Davis dropped a note in the suggestion box at Citizens Bank Park: "Just stop playing. You'll be happier. I know I was."
The Phillies' most passionate observers might suggest it was all a waste of time because the Phillies appeared to have quit as soon as they were eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend in Atlanta. That's just not the case, however. They proved Thursday that they could be competitive, losing by only 5-3 to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, a vast improvement over the previous three games when they were outscored, 34-4.
Still, the loss left them winless on their eight-game road trip, matching the worst road trip in modern franchise history. They also went 0-8 on a three-city trip to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore in 2015 when Ryne Sandberg was the manager who could not get the guys down in the bullpen at Camden Yards to take his call.
Ryno, for the record, quit not long after that.
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By losing all eight games on their road trip to Atlanta and Colorado, the Phillies accomplished a lot of things, and none of them were good. They finished with a 31-50 record away from Citizens Bank Park, tied for the seventh-worst road record in baseball. It still represented a four-game improvement on the road from last season, when the team went 27-54.
The Phillies will finish their season at home this weekend with three games against the Braves. They are 47-30 at Citizens Bank Park, which is the third best home record in the National League. They also lost what was considered a home game in Williamsport, Pa. The Phils will finish with their first winning record at home since 2013 and have a chance to win 50 home games for the first time since 2011.
The games against the Braves have zero meaning in the big picture, but they do have significance to the three starters the Phillies will send to the mound. Jerad Eickhoff, who missed most of the season while recovering from a nerve issue that caused tingling in the fingers on his right hand, will make his first start since Aug. 30 of last season, when he also pitched at home against the Braves. He has made two relief appearances this month.
Aaron Nola will make his final start of what has been his best big-league season Saturday night. It's unlikely he will win the Cy Young Award — the Mets' Jacob deGrom likely wrapped it up with a shutout earlier this week — but he could become just the ninth Phillies pitcher since 1950 to post an ERA less than 2.50. Nola (16-6 with a 2.45 ERA) would join a list that includes Steve Carlton, Roy Halladay, Jim Bunning, Cliff Lee, Chris Short, John Denny, Curt Schilling, and Cole Hamels.
Lefty Ranger Suarez will make his third career start in the season finale Sunday with a chance to leave a favorable last impression on Gabe Kapler and the coaching staff.
In a little more than a month, the season will be over and free agency will begin. It's no secret the Phillies would love to shop in the big-ticket aisle by landing either Washington's Bryce Harper or Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado. Harper is a Scott Boras client, and our Matt Breen points out that Phillies pitcher Jake Arrieta and outfielder Rhys Hoskins are represented by the super agent, too. Hoskins and Arrieta said they'll do their part to sell the Phillies' attributes to the game's best free agents.
Kapler has bared his soul in the waning days of a once-promising season, and now the Phillies manager is seeking advice on how he can be better in 2019. The manager said before Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Rockies that he has sent surveys to a wide range of organizational members to get anonymous feedback on ways both he and the team can do better next season.
Twelve minutes into their final road game of the season, the Phillies fell behind to the Colorado Rockies, and they never caught up. The 5-3 loss left them with a winless eight-game road trip and no chance of posting a winning record this season after being 15 games over .500 on Aug. 5. Carlos Santana and Jose Bautista did homer for the Phillies, who were outscored by 39-7 in the four-game series.
Tonight: Jerad Eickhoff gets the start vs. Atlanta, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Aaron Nola makes the final start of his sensational season, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: It's all over! Fan appreciation day, 3:05 p.m.
Dec. 9-13: Winter meetings in Las Vegas.
March 28: 2019 season opener vs. Atlanta at Citizens Bank Park.
Run differential is often looked upon as a fairly accurate indicator of how good a team actually is, and the Phillies were a plus-37 after they improved to 63-48 by completing a four-game sweep of Miami on Aug. 5. Since then, they are a minus-85 during a stretch in which they have gone 15-33. The team ERA through the first 111 games was 3.77. It is 5.08 since then.
We've heard many times this year how the Phillies were more aggressive with the infield shift because it saves more runs. How does Atlanta compare with the Phillies in deployment of the infield shift? Seems a fair comparison given that they have a young rebuilding team similar to the Phillies yet have been obviously more successful. Wouldn't the time be better spent on the fundamentals and letting the player's talent cover more of the diamond? Last year we saw more exciting defensive plays than this year.
How about stating that the players were burned out by early August by the constant changes and lack of consistency every game? I'm hard pressed to think of a profession where you don't know what you will be doing until you get there that day. It's awfully hard to focus in that kind of environment.
Have really enjoyed reading Extra Innings and glad to hear that you'll be publishing at least once a week during the off-season. Job well done!
Mike W., via email
Answer: Mike, thanks for a great question and the kind words about Extra Innings. It was our pleasure bringing this new addition in 2018, and we hope it worked out better than the Phillies' shifts.