The Phillies did what they had to do in St. Louis, winning two out of three. Perhaps the Phillies could have swept the series with a better effort on Sunday, but they were also fortunate to come away with a win on Friday, so let’s just be happy with the series victory.
Next up is the final meeting with the Atlanta Braves, at least as far as the regular season goes. There’s a very real chance these teams could meet up again in the playoffs, and beyond the fact that the Phillies are still jockeying for better playoff seeding, they’d like to send a message to their division rivals that a spot in the World Series is far from assured.
Record: 96-53, First place in National League East
The last time they met
The Braves took three of four last week in Philadelphia, which sounds bad until you remember that two of the games went into extra innings. It would have been preferable had the Phillies won either of those extra-inning games, but it shows that they can hang with the team with the league’s best record.
Speaking of extra-inning games, I’m not sure why the Phillies have struggled so much lately. Perhaps it's because certain members of the team are very bad at advancing runners via productive outs? It doesn’t help that Craig Kimbrel seems aggrieved by the “ghost runner” and allows him to score as quickly as possible.
The Phillies have lost their last 5 extra-inning games, scoring 3 runs in their last 7 innings with the auto-runner at second base.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) September 13, 2023
That’s despite scoring 63 runs in the 7th inning or later in their last 25 games, which is 11 more than any team in the majors.
The Braves clinched the NL East in the series finale against the Phillies and have clearly taken their foot off the figurative gas, losing three straight to the Marlins. The Braves gave up a collective 36 runs in the three-game series. Obviously, this didn’t do the Phillies any favors, so let’s hope the Braves continue their “hangover” for a few more days.
As they did in last week’s series, Phillies will face the starting trio of Kyle Wright, Max Fried, and Spencer Strider. In that series, the Phillies got to Wright but didn’t muster much offense against the other two. However, the Phillies fared well against them in 2022 NLDS, so it would be nice to get a few runs off of them to get that running through their minds.
Wrong time to “piggyback?”
Michael Lorenzen has been removed from the Phillies’ rotation, and it looks like he’s going to be “piggybacking” with Cristopher Sanchez, taking over from the young lefty in the fifth inning or so of his starts.
The Phillies are going to do a Sánchez/Lorenzen piggyback on Tues. in Atlanta. Sanchez will start. It’s unclear how many innings they’ll throw. It’s possible that the Phillies go with a piggyback against NYM too, potentially with Lorenzen starting that one. It’s up in the air.— Alex Coffey (@byalexcoffey) September 16, 2023
Here’s the thing: Sanchez hasn’t show he’s needed anyone to piggyback with him. On the other hand, the Phillies’ theoretical second-best starter could probably use the help. Aaron Nola has become famous for pitching well for the first few innings, and then at some point in the middle innings, he gives up a hit, and seemingly can’t record an out after that.
On Friday, Rob Thomson seemed to recognize this, and removed Nola from the game before too much damage could be done. But perhaps Nola would pitch better if he knew that all he had to do was to survive the dreaded Rav 4th inning before turning things over to Lorenzen.
Building a better lineup
The Phillies’ ideal lineup went away when Rhys Hoskins did in March. However, it feels like there is an optimal lineup based on the current personnel, and it doesn’t include Jake Cave. I realize that Cave bats lefty, which is theoretically an advantage against righthanded pitching. But I also realize that Cave hasn’t shown he can consistently hit Major League pitching regardless of which hand they use to throw.
On the other hand, Johan Rojas, brings superb defense and speed, which are always assets regardless of the pitcher. Besides, it’s not like Rojas hasn’t held his own at the plate so far.
Who should be getting more playing time for the Phillies? pic.twitter.com/sJCJmP5LuP— Smarty hates the Phillies (@TheSmartyJones) September 18, 2023
Leftover MCU villains
Continuing my MCU villain analogies for teams who didn’t get them earlier in the season.
Red Sox = Ayesha
Armed with an undeserved haughtiness, the leader of the golden skinned Sovereign seems like she should be a formidable villain yet pretty much gets defeated at every turn, partly due to overconfidence. She’s the type to tell her underlings to trade Mookie Betts, and then get angry at them when the team doesn’t win.
Ayesha— History of the MCU (@historyofthemcu) November 14, 2021
- Golden High Priestess of the Sovereign
- hired Yondu Udonta to kill the Guardians after Rocket stole Anulax Batteries that the Guardians we’re hired to protect
- after failing to get revenge on the Guardians, she creates Adam Warlock to finally get achieve this goal pic.twitter.com/42Y5s7UlBf
Last series’ answer: The Marlins’ franchise leader for hits at Citizens Bank Park is Hanley Ramirez with 64. 212bruises got it.
This week’s question: Who is the only Phillie to record three stolen bases in a single game at Truist Park?
The Diamondbacks may have knocked the Cubs out of contention for the top Wild Card spot with their weekend sweep. As a result, the Diamondbacks may now be the Phillies’ main competition. Fortunately, the Phillies have a three-game lead over Arizona, as well as the tiebreaker thanks to their 4-3 record against them.
The Braves likely want to put a better foot forward than they did against the Marlins, but once you turn off that intensity, its sometimes tough to turn it back on. The Phillies need to take advantage and win two of these games.