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May 01, 2023

Five awards from the Phillies' series win over the Astros

In a World Series rematch, the Phillies took two of three from the Astros over the weekend behind big performances from Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.

A series win down in Houston does not quell the sting of last year's Fall Classic loss, but the Phillies taking two of three from the Astros goes a long way to helping the Fightins in the standings after their rough start to 2023.

The Phillies have improved to 15-14 and while I think baseball standings are meaningless until the beginning of June, the Phils are just one game back in the National League Wild Card race. Letting the Phillies get hot ahead of Bryce Harper's return is a mistake for the rest of the sport! 

On Friday night, Aaron Nola turned in a gem in a 3-1 win. Zack Wheeler followed suit on Saturday, turning in his best performance of the young season in a 6-1 victory. Sunday was a bit rougher for the Phils, as Houston bested them after a rough outing from starter Bailey Falter. 

As we do, here are five awards for the Phillies from the series that was...

The "He Needs a Gold Glove" Award: Nick Castellanos 🧤

Throughout his career, Nick Castellanos has been a liability in the field. Even with that knowledge of his past play, Castellanos has made a few big plays in the outfield for the Phils this season. None were bigger than his home run robbing in the first inning on Friday night:

He faked out everyone! He faked out the announcers! 

Castellanos did a bit of a Houdini act, playing things off like the ball headed into the stands while he had it in his glove all along.

While I'm giving him props for his glove, Castellanos had a great day at the plate on Saturday as well, going 2-for-5 and homering. On the year overall, Castellanos is hitting .313, which would be the highest mark of his career, with an OPS of .878. Now this is the guy the Phillies imagined they were getting when they signed him to a contract worth $100 million last offseason. 

The "Looking Like Aces" Award: Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler ♠️

While I've been a Nola detractor, both he and Wheeler turned in "Ace of Spades" performances over the weekend. It's been a bumpy year for both, but their respective true talent levels were on display. On Friday, Nola allowed just three hits and one run in eight innings of work. Wheeler pitched six innings of no-run ball in Saturday's victory, lowering his 2023 ERA to 3.86.

Nola's outing was a pleasant surprise. As Phillies fans know all too well, Nola had a rough go of things against Houston in the World Series, posting an 8.64 ERA in two starts across 8.1 total innings. Nola's current 4.46 ERA is a far cry from how he looked when he finished fourth in National League Cy Young voting in 2022, but perhaps the switch has been flipped for the righty in a contract year. 

The "BCIB" Award: J.T. Realmuto ⚾

J.T. Realmuto's biggest moment as a Phillie came in Game 1 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park last fall, as he belted an extra-innings home run to give the Phils the win. He was money against Houston this weekend, too. Realmuto reached base in every game, hitting .455 with a homer and two RBI. His batting average in 2023 is up to .281, his best number ever as a Phillie. The power at the plate hasn't been there as much as it's been in the past, but I trust Realmuto to come up in the clutch whenever he's needed to do so, as he did under the bright lights this past October. 

The "You Need to Chill" Award: Martín Maldonado 🥶

With the Phillies up 2-0 in the fifth inning on Saturday, Wheeler hit Astros catcher Martín Maldonado with a pitch. He was not happy with that, mouthing off to Wheeler and causing such a fuss that he needed to be held back by Realmuto:

Hey, man. It's a two-run game in a World Series rematch where it's October baseball or bust for both squads. No one is hitting you on purpose in this situation. Take a couple of deep breaths and just head to first base without throwing a tantrum. 

Now feels like an apt time to mention that Maldonado is hitting a putrid .156 this season. Be grateful that Wheeler helped you actually get on base for once! 

The "Making Me Feel Like an Old Man" Award: Apple TV+ 🍎

I'm about to turn 29. I obviously grew up in the internet age. Even I had a difficult time trying to watch Friday night's game on Apple TV+ on my Roku. I was texting friends, asking them to send me a screenshot of what their TVs looked like when signing in to Apple TV+ while watching the game. It simply did not add up for me.

I eventually figured it out, but I feel like I'm turning 79 now. 

On Deck: L.A. 🌴

The Phillies begin a three-game set with the Dodgers on Monday night. Bryce Harper could return to the lineup this series. With the Phillies' torrid play of late and the possibility of the reigning NLCS MVP being back, this matchup will have a ton of juice.

Here are the probable pitchers for the series:

Game Phillies Dodgers 
 Mon. 5/1, 10:10 p.m.Taijuan Walker (R) Tony Gonsolin (R) 
Tues. 5/2, 10:10 p.m. Matt Strahm (L) TBD 
Wed., 5/3, 4:10 p.m. Aaron Nola (R) TBD 

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