It hasn’t been a banner year for the Phillies, who’ve fallen short of expectations after an action-packed winter, but they’re not going to assign blame to manager Gabe Kapler. He’s not in danger of losing his job this season, general manager Matt Klentak told Matt Breen of the Philadelpia Inquirer and other reporters Monday.
A longtime major league outfielder, the 43-year-old Kapler’s in his second season atop the Phillies’ dugout. They brought in the analytically minded Kapler after a three-year run as the Dodgers’ director of player development. Kapler got off to a rocky start at the outset of his tenure as a big league manager in 2018, though his club rallied in the summer to hold a first-place spot in the National League East from July 6 through Aug. 12. The Phillies sat at 65-52 with a month and a half left in the season, but they collapsed from there to finish 80-82.
While last year didn’t end to the Phillies’ liking, there was no way they were going to move on from Kapler, who was in charge for the team’s best record since 2012. Instead, Klentak & Co. focused during the offseason on giving Kapler more pieces. The Phillies aggressively acquired the likes of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson in free agency and trades. Aside from McCutchen, who suffered a season-ending torn left ACL three weeks ago, no one in that group has been as effective as they were a year ago.
Thanks in part to somewhat underwhelming production from their high-profile newcomers, not to mention shaky pitching, the Phillies are just 39-38. While the Phillies are 6 1/2 games back of the reigning NL East-winning Braves, they’re a mere one out of a wild-card spot. That gives the Kapler-led team a realistic chance to rally for a playoff spot even though it has lost six straight – including sweeps at the hands of sub-.500 division rivals Washington and Miami – and 16 of 22 overall.