Gabe Kapler Fired as Phillies Manager After 2 Seasons

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2019

Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler watches against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Phillies fired skipper Gabe Kapler on Thursday after a disappointing second season with the club.  

Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia first reported the news. 

After announcing Kapler's exit, Phillies managing partner John Middleton issued a statement on the decision, via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:

The Phillies ended the season in fourth place in the National League East at 81-81, finishing 16 games out of first.

Kapler was hired in October 2017 despite no previous managerial experience at the big league level. He proceeded to go 161-163 in his two seasons on the job.

The first-time manager immediately faced scrutiny for his strategical decisions during games. While a tumultuous start to his tenure had some calling for his job, he managed to survive the 2018 campaign as the team remained in contention late into the summer.

However, an 8-20 September knocked the Phillies out of the playoff race.

An 80-82 record in Kapler's first year represented Philadelphia's best performance since an 81-win season in 2012. Expectations for his second season skyrocketed, though, following a busy winter.

During the offseason, Philadelphia added 2015 National League MVP Bryce Harper, 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, 2018 All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, two-time All-Star shortstop Jean Segura and 2011 All-Star pitcher David Robertson. Not only that, but the team also acquired three-time All-Star right fielder Jay Bruce in June.

Despite all of those high-profile transactions, the Phillies found themselves underperforming. Even through a seven-game losing streak in June, though, Kapler stressed teamwork: 

Philadelphia's postseason hopes remained alive until late in the season, but it was eliminated from contention on Sept. 24. At that point, Kapler made his case to return for a third season, per Salisbury:

"We have games left to play. Like I said, there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to reflect. I love this organization. I love this team specifically. I love working for this front office. I love working for this ownership group. And look, I’m going to manage this club as long as I can. Because I think I give us a great chance to win and I think because I care deeply about the success of this franchise."

Ultimately, though, the higher-ups decided it was time for a change.

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