Phillies Nationals Baseball

Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler stands in the dugout during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, in Washington. The Phillies won 2-0. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Phillies have fired manager Gabe Kapler after the team ended its season with a lackluster 81-81 record and out of the playoffs, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury reported.

Kapler, 44, posted a 161-163 record as the the team's manager for two seasons. In both seasons at the helm, the Phillies showed promise in the NL East before faltering later in the season. He had one year left on his contract.

Kapler benefited from the Phillies' moves in the off-season, including winning the high-priced free agency competition for Bryce Harper. The Phils signed Harper to a $330 million, 13-year contract, also adding Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson and trading for star catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura.

The Harper signing, in particular, was being credited with lifting Phillies' attendance 26 percent this season, or an increase of 569,297 fans -- the largest total increase in the major leagues, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

And Kapler did lead the team to its first season without a losing record in six years.

But fans expected more, especially with the investments made in the team. And Kapler was a controversial figure among fans, some of whom never connected with his style or his relative inexperience as a manager.

"Expectations were high and we didn't get the job done, but it wasn't for lack of effort," Kapler said after the Phillies' final game, a loss to the only team below the Phils in the National League East, the Miami Marlins.

During that press availability, Kapler deflected all questions about his future with the Phillies.