December 10, 2023

Bryce Harper and Phillies swept by Mets: “It’s crushing”


Mary Altaffer/AP Images

The Phillies have lost 10 of their last 14. They are six games under .500 and 10.5 games behind the first-place New York Mets. The inconsistencies have loomed with this team, and they cannot find a hint of momentum. With each passing game, their chances of making the playoffs are diminishing.

Their road trip, which ended in New York, did not end the way the Phillies hoped—they were swept in a three-game weekend series against the Mets. The offense was inconsistent, and the starting pitching was not backed by the Phillies’ defense. The Phillies are now 3-9 against the Mets this season.

Game summaries

Bailey Falter took the bump in game one and was quite underwhelming. The offense was there, but the Phillies’ pitching and defense could not hold the Mets.

The Mets got out to an early lead, as they scored seven runs off of Falter and Nick Nelson in the first four innings. In the top of the sixth inning, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos each singled a run in, and Alec Bohm scored on Jean Segura’s groundout. With the Phillies down by four, Garrett Stubbs blasted a three-run home run into left field.

The Mets added on one more in the bottom half of the sixth, but it did not matter—the offense was quiet for the last three innings. Edwin Diaz and the Mets’ bullpen shut the Phillies’ offense down to end an 8-6 victory in game one.

Just a few days after signing a multi-million-dollar contract, Zach Eflin took the mound for the Phillies. Unfortunately, he did not pitch to the caliber that the Phillies expected him to when he signed the contract.

In the top of the fourth, J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run single to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately, the lead did not last for long. Just a few minutes later, Jeff McNeil hit a three-run home run into the upper deck at Citi Field. Francisco Lindor hit a two-run triple an inning later, and the Phillies found themselves down by six after the first seven innings.

Taijuan Walker got the start for New York, and he did his job to keep the Phillies quiet. He allowed two runs over five innings and struck out one. The Mets bullpen was nearly perfect, as they allowed just one hit over four innings. Mets’ reliever Colin Holderman threw two innings in the Mets’ 8-2 victory in game two and began his major league career with eight scoreless innings.

Even after a flat performance on Saturday, game three might have been the most disappointing of them all. The Mets got out to an early lead in the first inning thanks to a few defensive miscues on the Phillies’ part. Fortunately, Zack Wheeler shut the Mets down for the next five innings.

The Phillies got a run back in the third, but the Phils’ offense stayed quiet until the eighth inning. Joely Rodriguez walked Alec Bohm and Johan Camargo, so Buck Showalter pulled him for Adam Ottavino. In this instance, Ottavino had one job—do not allow Nick Castellanos to give the Phillies the lead. With two strikes on Castellanos, he lifted a three-run shot into the seats in left field to give the Phillies a one-run lead. Seranthony Dominguez threw a perfect eighth inning, but things did not go well from there.

Mets’ rookie took Corey Knebel deep to lead off the bottom of the ninth, taking the game into extra innings. The Phillies wasted their ghost runner on second in the top of the tenth, and Eduardo Escobar doubled the Mets’ ghost in to give the Mets the 5-4 win in the bottom of the tenth.

Defense matters

At the beginning of the season, the Phillies were confident that their powerful offense would make up for their subpar defense. We are now 48 games deep in the 2022 season, and it is clear that the Phillies’ theory to ignore their defensive issues does not work.

The Phillies allowed just two earned runs in their loss on Sunday night. One of these was from the extra-inning ghost runner, but the other two came after a potential double-play ball up the middle turned into an easy run for the Mets. This play only counts as one error in the box score, but one could argue that three mistakes were present in this play—Rhys Hoskins’ offline throw, Johan Camargo’s hesitation, and J.T. Realmuto not picking the one-hopper at home plate.

So, what does this mean? They need to clean up their defense. Fast. With the Phillies’ offense continuing to be inconsistent and the bullpen struggling to get outs, the defense has to be near perfect, and there are no exceptions.

Adjustments need to be made

The Phillies’ offense continued to underperform in this series, yet we see the same recurring theme—we cannot hit a breaking ball. Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber, two of the Phillies’ most renowned sluggers, are both seeing double the amount of off-speed pitches than they did in previous seasons. At the same time, they are both having two of the worst seasons of their career. Schwarber’s power is there, but he is hitting below .200. Castellanos began the season swinging a consistent bat, but the opposition has figured out how to get him to swing and miss and hit slow rollers. Castellanos is so focused on trying to hit the ball in a certain direction that he looks lost at the plate.

Hopefully, Castellanos can heat up considering he snapped the longest home run drought of his career in the eighth inning of Sunday night’s contest. Schwarber, on the other hand, has not shown any signs of life over the past two weeks.

Poor managing

Although I believe that a good team cannot be affected by a incompatible manager, Joe Girardi has made some very questionable decisions that dictated the outcome of games. He chose to push Zach Eflin’s start from Friday to Saturday, giving Bailey Falter the start in game one. Giving the extra day of rest backfired, as Falter lasted just three innings. He also chose to sit J.T. Realmuto in game one of the series. While Realmuto needs a break, we cannot sit our starters in a series as crucial as this one was. He left Corey Knebel in to pitch the tenth inning on Sunday after allowing a game-tying homer in the ninth. These decisions continue to leave fans wondering why Girardi made the call that he did. With these questions coming up more frequently, could Joe Girardi’s job be in jeopardy?

When asked about the potentiality of his job being up for grabs, Girardi said that he is “…never worried about [his] job. It’s the business of being a manager.”

It looks like we will have to wait and see.

Now, the Phillies will return to Citizens Bank Park to meet with former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and the San Francisco Giants.

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