Zach Wheeler’s speed drops, Phyllis loses the chain to Marlins

MIAMI – Ten games into the new season, Phillies are closer to last place than first in the Eastern National League. They have lost six of their eight matches since the opening with two consecutive home wins. The offense did not produce any consistency and manager Joe Girardi is already shaking up the squad as he looks for a run and a man to count on.

On top of all of this, the show’s crew only produced one good start, a feat that required the bowler to go six rounds and keep the opponent with three earned runs or less.

The team’s big roster of fears already increased early in the season on Sunday when quarterback Zach Wheeler struggled hard in the 11-3 loss to the Miami Marlins, who (enter the same, same first, eye lap) earned three of four from the Phillies.

Wheeler, runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award in 2021, lacked the usual fast-paced pop and was marked by eight strokes and seven runs on his worst start as Phillie. He walked three, hit three and failed to get out in the fourth inning.

“It was smelly today,” Girardi said afterwards. “He wasn’t able to lead his culture and this is a big step for him.”

“It wasn’t very good,” Wheeler said of his performance.

Wheeler started his season five days ago by holding the Mets on two strokes (one of which was Homer) and ran over 4 2/3 innings. Sure, that was a great way to start the season. But on that trip, Wheeler’s average speedball averaged 95 mph, down 2 mph from its 2021 average. On Sunday, the ballpark was down an average of 94.4 mph. For some pitchers, these are crackling numbers.

Not for Wheeler.

In his two starts this season, he has thrown a quick two- or four-stitch ball 73 times and only had two swings and a miss.

What is this Wheeler says?

“The good thing about that is,” he said. “That kind of thing gets accomplished. But only Philo herself – I don’t sneak past like I normally do. I just have to start shifting eye levels, pitching rather than throwing hard. I have to figure out how to project a little better with that.” I know I have things. You just have to do a better job.”

There may be a simple explanation for Wheeler’s slow pace and poor descent on Sunday. He had an extraordinary spring training. The Phillies wanted to take things slow with him because he threw 213 1/3 of the main innings last season. That became a little easier when Wheeler reported camp a little behind schedule after having to slow himself down after feeling shoulder pain during personal throwing action in December.

Wheeler’s schedule for spring has also been scrapped due to the flu situation and the weather. A rainstorm prevented him from facing the Toronto Blue Jays during his final days of camp, so he entered the regular season having only faced minor league hitters before seeing the Mets last week.

Gerardi believes Wheeler is still in spring training mode.

“Strong guys, we always talk about them, it takes a little longer than guys without strength, and he probably feels the effects of the really short spring training,” Girardi said.

“I just think it’s a lack of roles in spring training, and a lack of time. This is his fourth start. He can still get two more in spring training.”

Wheeler denied health concerns.

“I feel good physically,” he said.

He was asked if he thought his speed had gone down because he was basically still in build mode.

“I think so,” he said. “Hopefully that’s what it is. I feel good physically, kind of do in the spring, I work on it slowly and it comes as you go. So I think, you know, that’s going to be the fourth or fifth start. It goes along the lines of the spring. I hate saying It’s just because I feel like I’m making an excuse. I just have to figure out how to showcase what I have now. Just give the team a chance to win.”

Gerardi shook the squad before the match. Bryce Harper went from third to second in the batting standings and is back. Kyle Schwarber moved from the front to fifth and attended. But three runs wasn’t nearly enough, not with the throw release six walks and four strokes.

“We gave them 10 starting players and I think seven of them scored,” Gerardi said.

In their three losses in Miami, Phils scored just seven runs.

Since the start of 2020, Phillies’ age is 7-14 in Miami.

They are 4-6 overall in the new season as they head to Denver for three.

“At the moment there is some inconsistency in our play and that’s kind of biting for us,” said Girardi.

Subscribe to the Phillies Talk: Apple Podcast | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art 19 | Watch on YouTube