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May 21, 2023

Five awards for the Phillies, as they salvage a series win against the Cubs

The Phillies took two from the Cubs in a needed series win.

The Phillies overcame yet another sleepwalking start to a series and took two of three games at home against the Cubs this weekend.

Will they finally get some momentum going and get firmly above .500? Before we turn the calendar, let's hand out some hardware from a much-needed series victory.

The "Starting pitching crisis" Award: The Phillies on Friday

The Phillies have struggled with their fourth and fifth starter spots and that continued when the series opened Friday. Ranger Suarez made his second start since missing more than a month due to an injury and he barely made it through two innings, surrendering four runs during a brief stint. The bullpen didn't do much to keep the Phillies in it, allowing six more runs in a 10-1 laugher. The Phillies, for some reason, seem to take games off occasionally this season and in a talented NL East, that is not going to fly for long.

Suarez will have an opportunity to get it right — but behind him there is an embarrassment of riches. The Phils seem to like having Matt Strahm in the bullpen, and they've already demoted Bailey Falter. We'll have to see what happens moving forward with their final starter.

The "bounce back" Award: The Phillies on Saturday

As they've done similarly a few times this young baseball season, the Phillies followed up a 9-run loss with a 9-run win the next day — because it's the Phillies, and that's what they do. In a blowout performance from the offense, Philly was fueled by a Kyle Schwarber grand slam in the first (see, he should definitely not be leading off), and a two-run shot from Kody Clemens. 

The Phillies won 12-3 in the middle game as they got some pitching their ace...

The "So is he an ace?" Award: Aaron Nola

Good Nola is very hard to hit, and he was pretty darn good Saturday fanning 10 hitters and allowing just two runs in seven frames, giving the bullpen a much needed day off. The soon-to-be free agent has had an eventful season, lifting his record to 4-3 on the year. 

His 4.31 ERA is a little misleading as he has actually been better than that recently. He has got at least six innings in every start since early April and has allowed four or more runs just twice in eight starts over that span.

The "Mr. Clutch" Award: Bryson Stott

What do you know, after seeing 26 runs in the first two games of the series against the Cubs, the two NL clubs were in a pitcher's duel as Taijuan Walker and Justin Steele each held hitters scoreless until respective managers turned to the bullpen. In the seventh inning with the game still tied at 0-0, Bryson Stott got the call off the bench as a pinch hitter and blasted a two-run homer to put the Phillies on top.

Craig Kimbrel earned the save against his former team (though with a solo shot given up with two out in the ninth) as the Phillies salvaged a 2-1 series win and moved to 22-24 on the season.

The "Up Next" Award: Diamondbacks

The Phillies will look to keep it going with a three-game set at home beginning Monday with the D-backs traveling to South Philly. Arizona is firmly in the contender camp, sitting seven games above .500 and a few behind the Dodgers for first in the NL West.

Zack Wheeler will open the series against Tommy Henry, with Suarez getting a chance in the third game. We'll see what the coaching staff decides to do for the middle game.

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