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June 01, 2023

Five thoughts on the Phillies' miserable series sweep from the Mets

The Phillies' bats continue to struggle as a sweep from the Mets dumps cold water on the club's current standing.

With a sweep from the rival Mets up in Queens, the Phillies have now lost four straight and are 5-12 in their last 17 games. 

They're 25-31 on the season with the calendar turned to June, are sinking toward the bottom of the NL East standings, and flailing for any sort of answer as they head to D.C. next to face a Nationals team that surprisingly isn't very far behind them. 

Things aren't going great right now for the Fightins. Here are five thoughts on them after a three-game sweep that made it all worse...


The calendar ultimately has nothing to do with the Phillies' struggles right now, but man can this era of the team not get out of May soon enough. 

A look at their splits through May and then June the past five seasons:

 Season MayJune 
2019  17-1111-16 
2020* – – 
2021 12-16 12-12 
2022 10-18 19-8 
2023 10-16 0-1 

*COVID-shortened season

Slow starts are a real nasty habit here, and when you step back and look at it, 2022 is the only anomaly right now where the Phillies actually snapped out of it and recovered (but only just barely). 

Last June's surge was followed by the firing of Joe Girardi and the promotion of Rob Thomson as interim manager, but a managerial change isn't coming around to jump-start the Phils this time. 

That spark's going to need to be found elsewhere, and fast. 

A brutal reminder

Speaking of 2022, even though this roster isn't quite the same, this past month – and this series in particular – has been like getting a bucket of cold water dumped over you. 

The World Series run, understandably, made it easy to forget, but for much of last season, the Phillies were just incredibly frustrating to watch, and they've reverted right back to that.

During the regular season last year – because the postseason was obviously a much different story – the Phillies struggled to keep up with the Braves in the season series and just couldn't at all with the Mets, who were the NL East powerhouse for the bulk of it. The Marlins, who weren't great, and the Nationals, who were a league punching bag all year, were the saving graces of the divisional schedule, which ended up doing the Phillies a lot of favors toward the end. 

Jump to the end of this month and the first wave of NL East matchups: The Phils just managed to escape with a split down in Atlanta, then couldn't figure out how to hit the Mets' pitching at all and got swept in Queens. 

Washington's on deck now, though right behind the Phils in the standing. You just have to take a breath over the fact that this weekend should at least be an easier time matchup-wise...hopefully.

The Phillies' splits against the Braves, Mets, and Nationals from 2022 and what's been played of 2023 so far:

Season  BravesMets Nationals 
2022 8-11 5-14 16-3 
2023 2-2 0-3 0-0 

Failure to take advantage

On Tuesday night, the Phillies had three base-runners in total and none of them reached second base in a 2-0 loss. 

On Wednesday, they out-hit the Mets 9-5 but went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Edmundo Sosa's solo homer was the only source of offense. They lost again 4-1. 

And on Thursday, even though they generated two early runs off a throwing error and sac fly, the bats went quiet again. Max Scherzer struck out nine batters through seven innings, and the Phillies had just five hits and a walk that they couldn't string together into anything. A 4-2 loss and a series sweep. 

There are problems all over the place right now, but chief among them is the Phillies gripping the bat way too tight when there's a chance to do any sort of damage. They're chasing, pressing, and getting nowhere. 

They're not going to consistently get away with winning ballgames 2-1 or 3-2, not when their pitching has been so suspect, and the deeper they get into the season with these problems persisting, the deeper they're going to have to dig to find an answer.

How far they really have to go to find one isn't clear, but they definitely don't have one right now. 

One step forward, two steps back

Ranger Suárez easily put up his best outing of the season Tuesday night, going 6.2 innings with five hits and just two earned runs allowed. His only fault there was he gave up two runs too many because Kodai Senga was shutting the Phillies out. 

Aaron Nola looked decent for the most part on Wednesday, but once again ran into those one or two problem innings that drain pitches from him, ultimately take him out of it soon after, and leave the Phillies in a hole that right now they're just not equipped to climb out of. 

And Taijuan Walker was hanging in there with a 2-1 lead on Thursday, looking like he was finally turning a corner following a couple of solid outings against the Braves and Cubs. But then he got to the fourth. His velocity dropped, and after hitting Starling Marte with a pitch, Mark Canha took him yard for a two-run shot to give the Mets the lead back. He escaped the inning, but Matt Strahm took over in relief for the fifth. 

For every step forward the Phillies' rotation seems to make, there are two steps back, and it's just compounding the club's overall struggles. 

Every starter has shown reasons for optimism, sure – well, except for the fifth starter – but how much do you really trust any of them right now when their day comes around?

(Lack of) Heart of the order

For the whole series, here's how the 1-5 spots in the Phillies' lineup fared:

Tuesday's 2-0 loss: 0-for-15, 1 walk.

Wednesday's 4-2 loss: 4-for-20, 1 walk, Bryson Stott and Bryce Harper combined for all four hits.

Thursday's 4-2 loss: 4-for-16, 1 walk, Nick Castellanos accounted for three of those hits.

The hitting is getting harped on a lot here, I know, but it's been brutal. 

And if things are going to turn around down in Washington, the Phillies are going to have to figure it out quick.

First pitch for the opener is Friday at 7:05, with Zack Wheeler (4-4, 3.60 ERA) expected to be on the bump against Nationals right-hander Josiah Gray (4-5, 2.77 ERA).

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