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April 12, 2023

5 awards from the Phillies' series loss to the Marlins

The Phillies lost a series they shouldn't have to the Marlins Wednesday, dropping to 4-8 early this season and giving fans plenty to complain about.

After one of their best offensive games in recent memory to start things off Monday, the Phils lost two straight thanks in large part to pitching that can't seem to hold it together.

As we do after every series, here are five awards for the Phillies as they look to bounce back with a four-game set starting Thursday:

The "bullpen has no clutch" award: 

Blame the extra inning rules if you want — with the Marlins starting the 10th inning with a runner on second — but the Phillies blew it in extra innings after Craig Kimbrel allowed a single with the man on second to put the Marlins up 3-2. The Phillies would come up empty in their half of the 10th. Earlier in the rubber match, Jose Alvarado blew a slim 2-1 lead handed to him by starter Zack Wheeler. 

In Game 2 of the series, Connor Brogdon allowed a run and Andrew Bellatti three as the Phillies lost that game by four. And in the opener, a convincing win, a five-inning gem from Matt Strahm was muddied when McKinley Moore made his major league debut and allowed three (meaningless in the blowout win) runs.

The Phillies bullpen has no chill. And it has no clutch. There are a lot of veteran talented arms in the Phils staff and they need to stop taking the Phillies out of games.

The "hit parade" award: The Phillies on Monday

The Phils' win to start the series Monday was a thing of beauty. The team tallied 15 runs on 20 hits. Every starter except Kody Clemens got a hit. Alec Bohm continued to show he is a a stud driving in six runs. It felt like the October group for the first time.

Of course, the team reverted to an ugly 8-4 loss in Game 2 of the series, but an outburst like this, this early in the season is a sign that the offense has a ton of potential. If Bryce Harper returns as soon as some are expecting, watch out.

The "is something wrong with him?" award: Aaron Nola

It's only been three starts, but Nola's frustrating flaw struck again in the middle game of this three-game set. Looking solid in the early going, another mid-inning jam flustered Nola, who allowed three runs in the sixth inning and was unable to get out of the frame for the second time.

Nola has 15 strikeouts in 15.1 innings this season and has walked just three hitters. But he's allowed 20 hits in that span and 12 runs (7.04 ERA). For whatever reason, he's been entirely hittable despite having pretty good control around the strike zone. Thank goodness for the Phillies true ace, Zack Wheeler, who thankfully tossed six innings of one-run ball Wednesday night. We'll see if Nola can bounce back on the road against a beatable Reds team this weekend.

The "too Stott to stop" award: Bryson Stott

Whether he's hitting leadoff (like he did Monday), or in the eight-hole (where he inexplicably hit Tuesday), Stott is the best hitter on the Phillies right now and it's an incredible thing to watch.

The second-year former first round pick is hitting .420 this young season, has hit safely in all 12 of the Phillies games this so far, and against the Marlins he had six hits, two per game. He sees a lot of pitches and has good speed, so he's shown he can leadoff. This gives manager Rob Thomson flexibility to give Trea Turner more opportunites to drive in runs, like he did to start the scoring in Monday's convincing win on an RBI to drive in Stott.

The second baseman is not going to hit .400 this season but he also looks like he could be an everyday star for the Phillies.

The "seeing red" award: Phillies next opponent

The Phillies will play the Reds four more times Thursday-through-Sunday, and by Monday they will have played Cincinnati in 43% of their games this season. They are obviously familiar, as the Phils came close to sweeping the Reds at home to open the home slate last weekend. 

Going toe-to-toe in the four game set will be Bailey Falter, Taijuan Walker, Matt Straham and then Nola in the finale Sunday afternoon. A series win in Ohio — against a team expected to finish toward the bottom of the NL Central — will have the Phillies inching ever closer to being back at .500 midway through April.

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