December 9, 2023

“Disappointing” series ends with Phillies dropping three of four against Mets


Chris Szagola/AP Photo

The Mets came to town short on pitching, and their bullpen was shaky. They had just lost a series to the Braves, who are just behind them in the NL East.

But even with the Phillies’ two best pitchers on the bump, the Phillies were unable to use the Mets’ weaknesses to their advantage in this four-game series.

Game summaries

For the second time in the past three series, the Phillies were outdueled by Chris Bassitt. Bassitt—who struck out four over six innings of two-run ball—locked horns with Phillies’ starter Aaron Nola. Despite having one of his best seasons in 2022, he struggled to locate his fastball in his outing in game one.

Friday’s contest marked the first time Nola did not throw a pitch in the sixth inning since April 13, which was his second start of the season. Unfortunately, the Mets jumped on Nola early, and his pitch count skyrocketed over the first three innings.

Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run single to get the Phillies back within reach, but Andrew Bellatti also struggled with his command when he came in for relief in the seventh inning. Bellatti allowed a few walks at the beginning of his inning, and a two-run single by Brett Baty gave the Mets back their five-run lead.

An excited crowd in South Philadelphia was quickly deflated as Trevor May threw a quick shutout inning to end the game in which the Mets ended on top.

Following the loss on Friday, the Phillies were confident they could get back in the win column with Zack Wheeler on the bump for game one of the doubleheader. Unfortunately, Wheeler was unable to deliver for the second time in a row. He allowed four runs in 5.1 innings and struck out six. His curveball was at its best, but Wheeler was struggling to locate his slider and fastball.

The offense struggled once again, leaving 13 runners on base and going just 1-5 with runners in scoring position.

A two-out rally began for the Phillies ninth, but Sam Clay got Kyle Schwarber to go down looking before letting the game get out of hand.

It has been quite a rough road for Bailey Falter in 2022, but when the Phillies needed him to deliver the most, he had the best start of his career. The young lefty allowed just one run on two hits over six innings of work.

David Peterson got the start for the Mets, and the Phillies—finally—jumped on an opposing starting pitcher early. J.T. Realmuto hit an RBI single in the first, and Alec Bohm hit a two-run double in the third.

Rhys Hoskins added on with an RBI single in the eighth, adding an additional cushion for David Robertson, who recorded the six-out save to seal the Phillies’ win.

Game four ended in a heartbreaking loss for the Phillies, and it wasn’t the first time the Phils dramatically lost to the Mets. Alec Bohm and Mark Canha each left the yard twice, and Jean Segura had a go-ahead pinch-hit home run. Kyle Gibson and Jose Buttto, the starters for their respected teams, were both relieved early. But ultimately, the Mets came out on top. Edwin Diaz got the save, and Brandon Nimmo’s ninth-inning homer ended up saving the Mets.

And really, it’s hard to reflect on a loss of this type.

You could say that this is on the defense for allowing two unearned runs, but that’s a part of the game that happens to every team.

You could blame it on Rob Thomson for poor bullpen management, but the Phillies’ bullpen was extremely shorthanded; Thomson was forced to think not just about now but also about the stretch ahead.

Knowing that Darick Hall struggles against pitchers with high fastball velocities, you could even argue that Hall should not have hit against Edwin Diaz with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the tying run on second base.

Should Connor Brogdon have pitched in back-to-back days considering how rarely he does it?

Simply put, I don’t know. And nobody does. While these moves could be considered questionable, the Phillies were undoubtedly short on options.

Ultimately, it only further proved the Mets are a far stronger, deeper team than the Phillies, whether you want to accept it or deny it. And even during this series, the Mets were shorthanded just like the Phillies.

A lack of situational hitting

As a team, the Phillies left 37 runners on base throughout this four-game set. They struggled with situational hitting, and Phillies’ runners rarely advanced from base to base without a hit. And it is not just about the game situation, it is also about the situation within the series. Many Phillies players have been struggling against teams above .500, which is understandable, but only to a certain extent.

Control issues

Outside of a few spot starts and bullpen games, starting pitching has been a consistent piece of the Phillies’ success. But in this series, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Kyle Gibson all struggled. Collectively, they allowed 11 runs in 14.2 innings in their three starts. Their pitches and approaches were inconsistent, and a few specific innings overworked their pitch counts.

But generally, they were throwing strikes. Just not the strikes you want to be throwing. Zack Wheeler let a lot of sliders stay too high in the strike zone, and Kyle Gibson had trouble keeping his fastball away from the middle part of the plate.

The Phillies and Reds will begin a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park on Monday.

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