Plate discipline plagues struggling Phillies

Plate discipline plagues struggling Phillies

MIAMI -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin had little to say on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.

Mackanin praised Jerad Eickhoff, who pitched splendidly in a 5-0 loss to the Marlins. The right-hander allowed one run on five hits and struck out eight in seven innings.

"I'm real happy about that," Mackanin said. "That's about all I'm happy about."

Mackanin's biggest beef?

"Poor plate discipline, poor plate discipline," Mackanin said. "Swinging at too many bad pitches. We get ourselves out too often."

The Phillies managed just four hits and one walk on Tuesday. They struck out 10 times. They have hit just .208 and averaged just 2.75 runs per game in 12 contests since the All-Star break. They have walked 28 times and struck out 112 times during that stretch.

Philadelphia might activate outfielder Aaron Altherr on Thursday, which could help. They also could promote top prospects J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams before the end of the season, although it is unrealistic to expect them to carry the load. Looking beyond this season, it is unlikely the Phillies can improve their offense before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, unless they get creative and trade one of their more attractive, controllable talents on the roster.

MLB Network's Jon Paul Morosi reported earlier this week that the Rangers have interest in Vince Velasquez, who was the key piece in the Ken Giles trade in December. Velasquez, who is 8-2 with a 3.34 ERA, figures to be an important part of the Phillies' future, so it goes without saying the organization would have to be overwhelmed to even think about trading him.

That said, a talent like Velasquez could possibly acquire a bat to help the lineup.

If only the Phillies feel what they felt before the All-Star break. They averaged 5.6 runs per game in 19 contests before the break.

"It's almost like it was probably bad timing for that All-Star break," said Phillies right fielder Peter Bourjos, who left the game in the first inning with an injured right shoulder. "Everything was rolling, we were swinging the bats really well. Everyone looked comfortable in the box and feeling good, and it's tough right now. You can see what was there with the offense. I think it's going to come back. We just need to get back into the rhythm that we had, and everything's going to be all right."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.