Phillies hope regular routine helps rotation

Club won't have off-day until June 19

Phillies hope regular routine helps rotation

PITTSBURGH -- The Phillies jumped to a surprising 24-17 start last season because they pitched better than anybody expected.

It has been quite the opposite this year.

They entered Sunday's series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park at 15-25 because their pitching has struggled. Particularly, their rotation has underperformed. The 2016 rotation posted a 3.72 ERA through 41 games, pitching six or more innings in 25 games. Opponents had a .678 OPS against it. The 2017 rotation has a 4.84 ERA through 40 games, pitching six or more innings just 16 times. Opponents have an eye-popping .795 OPS against it.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, pitching coach Bob McClure and others in the clubhouse have wondered recently if the team's seven off-days, plus one rainout, in the first six-plus weeks of the season have prevented Phillies pitchers from getting into a groove.

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The Phillies' next-off day is June 19, so that shouldn't be a problem again anytime soon.

"Two weeks from now, if you ask me that and it's the same as it is now, I'll say yes," McClure said Sunday, asked if he is surprised by the rotation's struggles. "But I'm not as surprised right now. It's gone overboard, more than I thought. I knew it was going to get a little out of whack because we gave them all of the days off."

He said on a different team with high expectations to win, the Phillies might have skipped the Nos. 4 and 5 starters on occasion to keep the Nos. 1-3 starters on their routines.

"But because they're younger and because we want to keep everyone healthy and not have extra starts on everybody, we gave them the off-days," he said. "Very difficult to stay in tune like that. Now, in two weeks from now because we don't have any off-days, if they're still like that, I'd be a little bit surprised."

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