December 3, 2023

“Jelling” Phillies win fifth straight series against Marlins


Lynne Sladky/AP Photo

As the Phillies continue to win, some of us are waiting for the annual September collapse believed to be a curse of Phillies baseball. This 2022 team, which many believe are different than the pasts teams to be in contention this time of year, has continued pulling off big victories to keep themselves distanced from the Brewers in the NL Wild Card standings.

After another series win over the Marlins, FanGraphs gives the Phillies a 95.5% chance to make the playoffs, so a collapse this year would be the far worst we’ve seen.

Finally, it seems we may not have to experience another heartbreaking playoff miss. The Phillies have beat bad teams with consistency—something they’ve never done—and have a comfortable lead heading into a tough two weeks.

Game summaries

For the sixth time this season, the Phillies faced Marlins’ ace Sandy Alcantara. And for the fourth time this season, the Phillies shocked the baseball world with a win over Alcantara and the Marlins.

Bailey Falter was given the ball for the Phillies, and once again, he was great. Falter allowed just one run on four hits over six innings of work. He was eventually relieved by Jose Alvarado, who threw a scoreless inning in the seventh.

But just moments before Alvarado came in the game, the momentum shifted with one swing of the bat—Nick Maton smashed a two-run home run to put the Phillies in front.

Maton said that he was sitting on a fastball, and he did not miss it; the ball came off the bat at 107.3 miles per hour, and it hit off one of the auxiliary scoreboards in left field.

David Robertson pitched a quick, one-two-three ninth inning to record his twentieth save and the Phillies’ seventy-ninth win as a team.

In game two, the Phillies relied on strong pitching and the long ball to clinch the series win.

After a rusty start, Kyle Gibson got under control and ended up throwing six innings of one-run ball. He was relieved by Brad Hand, Zach Eflin, and Connor Brogdon, who each threw a scoreless inning to close out the win.

After a slow start off Edward Cabrera, the Phillies finally got the scoring started in the sixth inning. Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto hit back-to-back home runs, and Jean Segura scored Bryson Stott with an RBI double that split the left-centerfield gap.

An inning after the Phils’ three-run sixth, J.T. Realmuto lifted his second home run of the night, this one being a three-run home run to the opposite field.

Realmuto’s home run gave the Phillies a five-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh, which was plenty for the Phillies’ bullpen to lock down the win.

The Phillies were looking for the sweep in game three, but a lackluster offensive performance could not overcome the Marlins’ six runs.

Noah Syndergaard allowed four runs over six innings but was unable to repose himself after getting into a few jams early in the contest.

Kyle Schwarber’s twenty-eighth home run was a positive sign for the top of the lineup, but poor situational hitting cost the Phillies the game. 10 runners were left on base and the Phils had just two hits with runners in scoring position. Among the many missed opportunities, stranding Brandon Marsh’s leadoff triple in the third inning put a bad taste in some Phillies fans’ mouths, which would make sense as this foreshadowed the remainder of the Marlins’ game-three win.

Does Bailey Falter deserve a struggling Syndergaard’s rotation spot?

With Zack Wheeler on the brink of returning from the injured list, the Phillies’ front office will have some important decisions to make regarding their pitching staff.

The Phillies recalled Bailey Falter with the idea that he is the best of their not-very-good options in getting through without Wheeler. To many people’s surprise, Bailey Falter has been the Phillies’ most consistent pitcher over the past month, and some say that the Phillies don’t have a roster spot for him once Wheeler returns. It might seem impossible, but do strong resumes outweigh a hot hand? Unfortunately for Falter, many seem to think so.

In this case, Noah Syndergaard and Kyle Gibson have the strong resumes, and Bailey Falter is the hot hand. And the hot hand is, well, very hot. Falter, who is coming off a start where he allowed just one run in six frames, has six consecutive quality starts and owns a 2.52 ERA over that span.

Syndergaard has been a whole different story, posting a 4.79 ERA since joining the Phillies and an ERA north of five in September. He hasn’t had his breaking ball on point, and Falter has been locating his pitches better than he was at the beginning of the season.

Coming from the Angels, Syndergaard faced a lot strong offenses, but with the Phillies, he has yet to face a team over .500 with the Phillies. Falter, conversely, got one of the Phillies’ most relevant team wins in the second game of a doubleheader against the division-leading Mets.

Their other struggling pitcher, Kyle Gibson, has been struggling to get deep into games but is coming off a quality start in the second game of this series. And Gibson has shown he can bounce back after a few rough weeks, which should be enough to guarantee him a spot in the backend of the rotation moving forward.

Nola and Wheeler, of course, are not going anywhere, and Ranger Suarez showing glimpses of stardom will keep his roster spot secure.

So from here, where does that leave the Phillies’ rotation? Well, that is the burning question that needs to be answered.

When Rob Thomson was asked about future rotation plans, he reiterated “We have to wait on Wheeler. When he’s healthy we’ll discuss plans.”

Hoskins’ sore hand

Quietly, Rhys Hoskins has been one of the Phillies’ most consistent hitters in 2022. His average has been hovering around .250 since June, and he has minimized the length of his cold streaks.

His presence around the Phillies is always positive, and he has been Phillie since the 2017 season, making him one of the team veterans. Hoskins, though, was no help on the playing side, as he was hit in the hand with a changeup in game two of the series.

Luckily, there was no structural damage, but he didn’t play in the series finale. Hoskins is expected to play at some point in the upcoming series, and he might even get the starting nod for game one.

The Phillies will take on the Braves beginning Friday.

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