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Bad Luck: Philadelphia Phillies Fail to Support Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard

The Philadelphia Phillies haven't given much run support to Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard this season – and that needs to change.

Zack Wheeler is back. That's welcome news for a Philadelphia Phillies team that has been treading water as of late. Their pitching staff is showing signs of wear and tear, and last year's Cy Young runner-up should make for a strong reinforcement. 

Prior to suffering a forearm injury in mid-August, Wheeler was in the midst of another stellar season. In 23 starts, he threw 138 innings with a 3.07 ERA. Before hitting the IL, he ranked seventh among National League pitchers in FanGraphs WAR.

Yet as good as Wheeler has been this year, the Phillies have failed to take advantage. The team is just 12-11 in his starts. They've had more luck with Kyle Gibson, Ranger Suárez, and Bailey Falter on the bump. 

By and large, Philadelphia's lineup just hasn't scored enough runs to support their ace. Overall, the team is scoring 4.69 runs per game this year. That's quite good – it ranks seventh in all of baseball. In Wheeler's starts, however, the Phillies are scoring just 3.97 runs per game. That's a huge drop-off. 

To make matters worse, there's one pitcher in the rotation who has gotten even less run support than Wheeler: Noah Syndergaard, who will be Wheeler's piggyback partner for their next two outings. 

Combined, Wheeler and Syndergaard have received 3.84 runs per game in support this year. That's a Washington Nationals-level offense. 

For all other starting pitchers, Philadelphia is averaging 4.92 runs per game. That's Atlanta Braves-level production. 

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In other words, the Phillies have a really great offense most of the time. But when Wheeler and Syndergaard are pitching, the offense crawls under a rock and disappears. 

Philadelphia Phillies Starter Zack Wheeler

Philadelphia Phillies Starter Zack Wheeler

A phenomenon like this is a textbook example of hard luck. There's no logical reason Philadelphia should score fewer runs with Wheeler or Syndergaard on the mound. A starting pitcher does not have any direct effect on his own team's offensive performance. 

Some days teams just score more, and some days they score less. This year, Wheeler and Syndergaard have gotten the raw end of the deal.

Hopefully, the Phillies can reverse this trend over the final weeks of the season. Wheeler's return is huge for this team, but only if they can actually make the most of his outings. 

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