Phillies GM Matt Klentak gives manager Gabe Kapler vote of confidence after slow start

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

After signing Bryce Harper and adding four other All-Stars over the winter, the Philadelphia Phillies had high expectations heading into the season.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mets, the team had lost 11 of its last 13, was only one game over .500 and 6.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East, but general manager Matt Klentak gave second-year manager Gabe Kapler a vote of confidence.

“Gabe Kapler is our manager,” Klentak said on Monday, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Our staff is our staff. Look, I’ve been a part of teams that have made in-season staff changes. I understand how that can happen. But right now I do not think that is the right way for us to go.”

As Klentak alluded to, he’s been in charge of a team that change managers during a season, although that came in his first year in Philly when Ryne Sandberg resigned after a 26-48 start. The club improved down the stretch with with Pete Mackanin, but that team was never expected to contend for a title.

Things are different this season, and Kapler still has another year left on his three-year deal. Phillies owner John Middleton said over the offseason that he was willing to spend “stupid money,” but paying for two managers less than halfway through the season might actually be stupid.

“My view right now is that the wrong thing to do is to point a finger at any one person and say you are the reason this is happening,” Klentak said. “I do not believe that.”

What’s gone wrong for the Phillies?

So much has gone sideways for the Phillies this season that it’s hard for Kapler to shoulder all the blame. Many of their problems stem from injuries, which are almost entirely out of his control.

Andrew McCutchen tore his ACL during a rundown. Seranthony Dominguez may face elbow surgery. David Robertson had to visit Dr. James Andrews. Even Jerad Eickhoff, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter have missed time, and that's before considering Odubel Herrera’s leave of absence for domestic violence.

The Phillies have had their share of disappointments from Aaron Nola to Maikel Franco, but for the most part their team needs health to get back on track.

Kapler has handled some things poorly during his tenure, including accusations of mishandling sexual assault allegations, but this would be a strange timing to address those issues.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was given a vote of confidence on Monday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was given a vote of confidence on Monday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Do the Phillies still have a chance at the playoffs?

Despite all their struggles, it’s worth noting that the Phillies are still above .500. Their -8 run differential is a concern, but they could be in a far worse position — just look at the rival Washington Nationals and New York Mets.

Using FanGraphs’ rest-of-season projections, the Phillies have a 47.9 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 14.9 percent chance of winning the division. If that doesn’t sound bad at all, that’s because it’s exactly the same chance they had of making the playoffs going into the season: 47.9 percent.

While the Phillies will look to add to their roster at the trade deadline, they’re far from out of it and don’t need a drastic managerial change.

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