After a tough loss yesterday, it was up to Zack Wheeler to try and break the Phillies’ three-game losing streak.
Skipping to the second inning, Wheeler got burned on his breaking stuff. Josh Bell poked a curveball to left field and Will Brennan took the same pitch to center.
Myles Straw came up with two outs and worked a nine-pitch at-bat by fouling off a platter of four seams and sinkers. Wheeler changed speeds with a sweeper to get Straw out in front.
Through the first four, it was a pure pitcher’s duel. Cleveland’s Tanner Bibee worked a fastball-slider combination to the right-handed hitters. He got Trea Turner to hit into a double play in the fourth and got Bohm to strikeout in the fifth.
He showed off his changeup to lefties, getting Schwarber to strike out in the fourth. Bibee’s curveball frustrated Nick Castellanos, who missed two good ones to hit in his first two at-bats.
Wheeler attacked early for strikes but worked his sweeper and curveball for strikeouts to José Ramírez, Straw, and Bo Naylor. He also maintained his velocity by showing he still had 95-97 in his back pocket.
It took until the sixth inning for the Phillies to be a real threat to Bibee. Edmundo Sosa somehow poked a fair ball down the first base like that tricked far enough from Josh Naylor that Sosa was able to get to second.
Schwarber got down on one knee to hit a flyball to center, allowing Sosa to go to third. With a runner on third, Turner struck out on a down-and-away slider then Castellanos went down swinging on a disgusting 12-6 curveball.
Tanner Bibee, Filthy Breaking Balls. pic.twitter.com/DApDyAcg1i— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 23, 2023
With two outs in the sixth, Wheeler’s unfortunate BABIP this season continued. Amed Rosario poked a sweeper into center for a base hit.
Ramírez came up and hit a sky-high popup to shallow right field. Marsh, Stott, and Castellanos converged but no one saw it.
It’s a hopeless feeling, the ball went so high that it allowed Rosario to score all the way from first.
Then, Josh Naylor got jammed on a fastball but it still poked into left field. Ramírez’s pop-up had a .020 projected batting average and Josh Naylor’s single had an exit velocity of 72.4 mph, both were hits and the run was charged to Wheeler.
His night was done after seven with eight strikeouts. The only walk he issued was on a full-count pitch that clipped most of the zone, the umpire just missed it.
One of Wheeler’s biggest developments has been his two-seam from the left-handed batter’s box. We all know Aaron Nola’s is vintage but picture something similar except at 96 mph.
Zack Wheeler's 6th and 7th Ks. pic.twitter.com/MzBibHayzN— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 23, 2023
Former Phillie Enyel De Los Santos came in for the eighth. He always had good stuff but the club could never realize his potential. Since joining Cleveland last year, De Los Santos has a 2.90 ERA in 93.0 innings pitched.
He got Alec Bohm to hit a popup and Marsh to strike out. Jake Cave came off the bench for Edmundo Sosa and worked their best at-bat of the inning, a flyball to the track.
Cave then made his major league debut at first base.
Matt Strahm came in for the ninth and recorded a groundout and two flyouts. His fastball sat at a concerning 92.2 mph (he did also work yesterday).
If you were looking for a miraculous Phillies comeback win, you’re reading the wrong recap (read this one instead)
Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland’s lockdown closer came in for the ninth. Schwarber struck out on the ruling that he fouled a 99 mph cutter into the glove of Bo Naylor, but he never got a piece of it. Turner and Castellanos gave us a quick loss after that with two ground balls on three pitches.
Losing streaks happen in baseball and there’s no real reason to panic. They’re only one game back in the wild-card standings and teams like Arizona, San Francisco, and Cincinnati aren’t playing great either. Miami has also lost eight games in a row.
However, that doesn’t make losses less frustrating, especially when you could’ve won these games. Three of these four losses have been very winnable games.
Aaron Nola gets the ball against somebody tomorrow. Baseball Savant has Cleveland listed as TBA so it’s probably a bullpen game?