It could always be worse. The Phillies have lost seven in a row, are just a game over .500, and were just swept by the worst team in the National League. But at least they’re not trying to fight reporters.

The Mets, who will visit Citizens Bank Park tonight to begin a four-game series, left Wrigley Field on Sunday after responding to their late-inning loss by trying to pick a fight with a beat writer. The Mets have lost six of their last 10 and have a manager on thin ice. The Phillies will avoid Jacob DeGrom this week, and it’s another chance to stop their swoon.

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— Matt Breen (extrainnings@inquirer.com)

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Phillies manager Gabe Kapler standing between hitting coach John Mallee (left) and bench coach Rob Thomson during the fifth inning against the Marlins on Sunday.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler standing between hitting coach John Mallee (left) and bench coach Rob Thomson during the fifth inning against the Marlins on Sunday.

Time to panic? Never, Gabe Kapler says

The Phillies have won six of their last 22 games. They scored just eight runs in three losses to the Marlins and were booed all weekend.

Gabe Kapler did not sound Sunday afternoon like a manager ready to make changes to his staff. Instead, he’ll bring out a pitching machine Monday afternoon and change the way the team strategizes before games. The rest of the city might be panicking over the Phillies’ recent stretch, but Kapler is not.

“The thing I want to convey most strongly is that we don’t panic around here,” Kapler said. “The identity of our club, the identity of our players, and the identity of our staff is we don’t panic. We do feel urgency. We don’t panic. We adjust. We don’t complain or hang our heads. We get to work. We’re not always going to be right. We’re going to mess things up. We’re going to make mistakes. But over the course of the last 48, 72 hours, nobody has done more work.”

The Phillies will play seven straight games against the Mets and Marlins as they try again to right their season against the last-place teams in the National League. But that turnaround was supposed to start Friday when they opened a three-game series against the Marlins. Instead, it was three more losses. It is only June, but the Phillies are nearing the midway point of the season. Time is already running thin.

“The concept that we just, like, stay the course, I don’t buy that,” Kapler said. “I believe in continuing to work the process. I believe in trusting the talent in the room. I also believe strongly in action steps that only have upside. There are action steps that we can take every day that only have upside. They legitimately cannot hurt you.”

The rundown

“It was a beautiful day for baseball at Citizens Bank Park. It was, at least, until the Phillies actually started playing baseball,” Bob Brookover writes. The Phillies are a mess, but Brookie says don’t hold your breath for Gabe Kapler to be canned.

Speaking of Kapler, he believes more practice will get the Phillies out of their funk. Scott Lauber describes the team’s new batting-practice approach, but that won’t work for Bryce Harper. “For me, personally, I don’t do that,” Harper said.

This is not what John Middleton paid for, Lauber wrote after the Phillies dropped their seventh straight game. “The Phillies are supposed to make the playoffs. Anything less will be regarded as a disappointment — by the fans, as well as the owner — and after getting swept at home by the 30-46 Marlins, it might be time for DEFCON-level action, even if the players and coaches are projecting calm,” Lauber writes.

Important dates

Tonight: Zach Eflin faces left-hander Steven Matz, 7:05 p.m.

Tomorrow: Jake Arrieta faces right-hander Walker Lockett, 7:05 p.m.

Wednesday: Nick Pivetta starts against left-hander Jason Vargas, 7:05 p.m.

Thursday: Aaron Nola pitches the series finale against right-hander Zack Wheeler, 1:05 p.m.

Friday: Phillies head to Miami to open a three-game series, 7:10 p.m.

Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas
Kathy Willens / AP
Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas

Mets come to Philly after near-fight with writer

The Mets did their best Sunday to steal the attention away from the Phillies’ spiral by blowing a late lead against the Cubs and then blowing a gasket in the clubhouse.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway was questioned by reporters for not using closer Edwin Diaz in the eighth inning. He then cursed off Newsday beat writer Tim Healey after the writer told the embattled Callaway, “See you tomorrow.” Jason Vargas, who will start Wednesday against the Phillies, then threatened to knock the writer out and had to be restrained by teammates, including injured Noah Syndergaard.

Mets owner Jeff Wilpon called Healey to apologize. The Mets said in a statement that they “sincerely regret the incident that took place” and “do not condone this type of behavior from any employee.”

“I was in no way trying to be aggressive or antagonistic or anything. At that point in the day, I want to talk to Diaz and then leave, you know? What’s the point in me trying to pick a fight?” Healey told Newsday.

Minutes earlier, the Phillies had lost their seventh straight game and finished off a three-game sweep to the last-place Marlins. But the National League East title for dysfunction still belonged to the Mets.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.

Question: What’s the latest with David Robertson? It’s been a while since we’ve seen him pitch. — Jim S. via email.

Answer: Thanks, Jim. Robertson joined the Phillies this weekend and said he feels as if he “turned a corner” in his recovery from his elbow injury. He plans to throw off a mound sometime within the next week and then make a few rehab assignments before joining the Phillies sometime in July.

The Phillies returned Pat Neshek from the injured list last July and considered him a trade-deadline acquisition. The same could be said for Robertson and Tommy Hunter, who is nearing a return after being injured since spring training.