As the Philadelphia Phillies begin their quick two-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays, they are sitting at 16-19 after the 35 game mark of the season.

Last season after 35 games they were 17-18.

Translation, no need to hit the panic button.

Before this season began, I told listeners this would not be a fun, 95-to-100 win regular season team, filled with a lot of good times.  Rather this regular season will be a grind to the finish line, with the hopes of being one of the six best teams in a mediocre National League.

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While striving for mediocrity is not fun. In sports today, its all that is really necessary. Check the 2002 Phillies or the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

The regular season has become a eight month Spring Training for the playoffs.

The Phillies opened the season with Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Ranger Suárez, Andrew Painter, Cristopher Sánchez and Nick Nelson on the shelf. Once the season started, the lost Darick Hall, who was replacing Hoskins. Andrew Bellatti went down. Cristian Pache, who was starting to turn the corner at the plate, also is on the injured list.

Even with all of the things above, the Phillies have kept their head above water and 35 games into the season, they are just two games out of a Wild Card spot.

Do they have issues that can be fixed? Sure.

Their lineup has been all over the place.  Manager Rob Thomson has been tinkering with plenty of different configurations, with Trea Turner, Bryson Stott and Kyle Schwarber all getting swings in the leadoff spot.

It seems he has settled back into Stott at the top, with Schwarber hitting in the No.5 spot after a four game run at the top of the lineup.

Thomson explained that Schwarber, who was really struggling, hit leadoff for their World Series team and was hopeful a move their might get him going.

It didn't.

So after a 0-19 trial run, he made the move, putting Schwarber in the five-hole.

Another guy who has had struggles this season is Bailey Falter.

The team has been forced to trot him out there every fifth day with little to no other options in the organization.

The result?  0-6 with a 5.75 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.

The team elected to keep him the rotation over Matt Straham, who has been pitching well as a starter.  However, consider, Straham was signed to help the bullpen and has never started more than 16 games during his seven seasons.  He is a guy who has had injury issues in the past, so watching his workload and innings was a smart move.

The team can elect to turn to Nick Nelson when he is eligible to be activated to the MLB roster on May 18.  However, keep in mind, Nelson has stared all of four games in his MLB career which has 69 total appearances.

As a starter Nelson is 0-2 with an ERA of 9.53 and a 2.67 WHIP.

Sánchez is 2-1 with an ERA of 6.00 in five career starts

Translation, the Phillies don't really have any options to replace Falter in the rotation.

The team is looking at the big picture, and getting Straham in the role he was signed for, keeping him healthy is a better long term decision then having him stay in the rotation.

Maybe Nelson or Sanchez are better options (their numbers suggest similar results would be coming), but they aren't saving the season.

Remember the 2022 Phillies trotted Kyle Gibson to the mound every fifth day to the tune of a 5.05 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 31 games, or 5.3 innings per game. Its not much different from what they are getting currently from Falter, who is getting you 5.1 innings per contest. Falter is a guy they just want to go out there to eat up innings.

What they can do is score more runs than the 2.29 runs per game they score for him and maybe get better pitching from the guys at the top of the rotation like Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Tijuan Walker.

So if fans are complaining about Falter, its seems its misguided.

Replacing Falter won't change much, you'll likely be complaining about his replacement.  However, getting better pitching from the guys you thought you could depend on, and led you do a wild World Series run, is probably a better use of your fan energy.

So this team is 16-19 after 35 games, but their biggest issues don't include their manager or their No. 5 spot in the rotation.

Their biggest issues include not getting what you thought from Turner, the guy you paid $300 million. Schwarber hitting .188 with 43 strikeouts in 128 at-bats. Harper missing the first month of the season.  Nola, Wheeler and Walker combining to win eight games in 21 tries. When Hoskins went down, Hall also getting hurt and having to use guys like Jake Cave and Kody Clemens for regular at-bats.

If you think all these things will continue, then yes, its probably fair to be worried.  If you think they guys will turn it around, the Falter starts will be the only thing worth complaining about.

See you in October.

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