June 5, 2023

Phillies fall to .500 following series loss to Mets


AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson

Following Monday’s game, the fans were ecstatic. In the eighth inning, the Phillies came back from a four-run deficit to steal a victory in game one of this series. Two days later, Phillies fans were infuriated following two poor performances from Citizens Bank Park.

Game summaries

Monday night, the Mets got out to a quick lead. Ranger Saurez was on the bump for the Phillies. Suarez was late to Spring Training due to visa issues, so he got a limited amount of repetitions. While there were some serious defense issues (see below), Suarez still struggled with his command. His changeup did not have its usual bite, and it hung over the plate for much longer than he wanted. Ultimately, Ranger went 2.2 innings and allowed three runs in that span. He walked one and struck out one.

Long-reliever Nick Nelson came in following Suarez’s departure from the game. Despite him having an ERA above eight in 2021, he dominated the Mets’ starting nine. Nelson went four innings and allowed just one run to cross the plate. His first pitch of the day, a fastball, was recorded at 98 miles per hour.

It’s a good thing that Nelson kept the Phils in the game, for the Phillies offense came out of hibernation in the eighth inning. Kyle Schwarber got the party started with an RBI groundout, and J.T. Realmuto followed by pulling a changeup into the stands off of Mets’ lefty Joely Rodriguez. Rodriguez, the only lefty in the Mets bullpen, was brought in to handle Phillies’ lefties Schwarber and Harper, but right-hander J.T. Realmuto interrupted the streak of lefties.

Not long after Realmuto left the yard, doubles from Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius gave the Phillies the lead.

Unfortunately, Corey Knebel came down with an illness (do not worry, it is not COVID), so Brad Hand had to step in to the closer role. Although he struggled as a closer in the end of 2021, he pitched a clean ninth inning to lock up the Phillies 5-4 win.

Tuesday, the day of Zack Wheeler’s season debut, the Phillies’ bats fell silent. Wheeler went 4.2 innings and allowed just one run while striking out three. While it was not the Wheeler that we are used to, his performance overall was promising considering he had a limited number of starts in Clearwater.

He was relieved by Christopher Sanchez who did an excellent job keeping the Phillies in the game. Despite his success, the Phillies bats stayed quiet throughout the night.

Tyler Megill took the mound for the Mets, and he stymied the Phils. Edwin Diaz and his dirty slider diminished all of the Phillies’ hope for a comeback.

All the Mets needed was a Brandon Nimmo home run and an RBI single from Francisco Lindor to seal their 2-0 win.

Wednesday’s series finale was all over the place. Aaron Nola was on the bump for the Phillies, and Max Scherzer took the bump for New York.

Both of them struggled with command, but it ended up affecting Nola more. Nola ended up going 3.1 innings and allowed three runs. He walked three. He struggled to use his knuckle-curve as a put-away pitch, and kept leaving it over the heart of the plate.

Scherzer walked three of the first four batters to start the first, but the Phillies could not capitalize even though they had the bases loaded with just one out.

The Mets pummeled the Phillies bullpen. Connor Brogdon and Damon Jones both struggled to find a groove. The Mets put nine runs on the board by the end of the game, and the Phillies comeback in the sixth and seventh was not enough.

Pete Alosno ended up going 3-5 with a home run and five RBIs.

Although Bryce Harper blasted his first home run of the season off of Edwin Diaz in the ninth, it was not enough. The Mets took the series thanks to a final score of 9-6 in their favor in game three.

Ups and downs in the Phillies’ bullpen

Throughout the weekend, we got to see a larger sample size of the Phillies bullpen. While a few guys shined, others struggled.

The obvious highlights were Nick Nelson and Christopher Sanchez. They both came into the game as long-relievers, and they both did their jobs of keeping the Phillies in the game.

In the back end of the ‘pen Jose Alvarado, and especially Brad Hand, looked like their old-selves. Hand filled in as the closer on Monday and had a quick and easy inning. Hand was one of the best closers in baseball when he was on the Guardians, but he struggled immensely as the National’s closer. Even though we aren’t planning on seeing Hand in this situation that often, it is still a good sign.

Damon Jones has struggled throughout the entire season. His command is subpar, and he hasn’t been able to get the same spin on is pitches that he had in the minors.

Finally, the comeback of flamethrower Seranthony Dominguez has been more than a success. He pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings on Monday, and he pitched another 1.1 innings today and allowed just one run. Even though that does not sound great, his velocity is continuing to climb, and his slider has excellent movement. On the season, he has an ERA of 2.45. As Dominguez continues to work back to his pre-surgery self, it is crucial that the Phillies give him innings to build up his stamina.

Alec Bohm struggles on defense yet again

Alec Bohm is known to be one of the worst defensive third baseman’s in the league, but it came to an all-time worst on Monday.

Within the first three innings, Bohm had three throwing errors—the most of his career. He also had two throws to Rhys Hoskins at first base in which Hoskins was forced to use his athleticism to finish the play. Similarly, he forced Jean Segura to jump when receiving the ball at second when the Phillies were going for the 5-4-3 double play.

As you might expect, the Phillies fans were less than thrilled. Bohm received an overwhelming amount of boos from the crowd. Bohm was caught on camera saying that he “hates this place”, in reference to the obnoxious crowd at Citizens Bank Park.

Postgame, Bohm handled the situation exceptionally well. He reiterated to the media that he loves Philadelphia, and that he let his ”emotions get the best of [him]”.

For the most part, Phillies fans were happy with Bohm’s response; although, his defense is still a major concern.

At the dish, he was 1-3 in the series. He got on base four times, and he even produced an RBI in game three.

Phillies outfield struggling offensively

So far in 2022, it has been rough for three of the Phillies outfielders. Kyle Schwarber, Matt Vierling, and Bryce Harper are hitting a combined .089 (5-56) in the regular season thus far.

Schwarber started out the season hot. We all remember his home run in the first inning of Opening Day. Since then, he has struggled to find the barrel. He has just one other hit besides the home run. He is swinging through a lot of off-speed pitches, and he is taking a lot of fastballs. The most probable solution for him is to simply get more swings. Since his Spring Training was short, he hasn’t gotten many live at-bats. The more at-bats he gets, the better he will start to see the ball.

Vierling is the biggest concern right now, but a simple solution is forthcoming. Currently, he is our everyday centerfielder, and he has not yet gotten a hit. The most likely scenario is that he will be optioned to AAA once either Odubel Herrera or Mickey Moniak come back from injury. Since he is still young, he will have plenty of time to further develop.

That leaves us with reigning MVP Bryce Harper. Harper displayed some minor elbow soreness on Tuesday, but he claimed to be fully healthy. This shouldn’t be a problem, especially since he hit his first home run of the season on Wednesday. He has been displaying some of the same symptoms as Schwarber. He is swinging through a lot off off-speed pitches, and he does not seem to be seeing the ball well. Knowing that he often has slow starts to the season, there is nothing to worry about.

The Phillies are heading on a roadtrip to Miami where they will meet the Marlins for a four-game series.

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