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May 07, 2023

5 awards for the Phillies after yet another series loss (to the Red Sox)

The Phillies salvaged a win Sunday to avoid being swept by the red hot Red Sox. There was a lot of bad before the solid 6-1 victory for the Fightins in the finale.

As we always do, here are five awards for the home team before a much-needed day off:

The "Time to Bail" Award: Bailey Falter

The Phillies have Ranger Suarez slated to return to the starting rotation fairly soon, and manager Rob Thomson has said on the record that he'll be replacing Matt Strahm, who'll be moved to the bullpen. That is a terrible mistake.

After yet another awful outing on Saturday against Boston (he allowed six runs in 3.2 innings), Bailey Falter is now 0-6 with a 5.75 ERA this season. Sure, he offered some depth and reliability during the Phils’ run to the World Series last season, but this guy can't put together five quality innings and should not be holding a rotation slot. It also doesn't hurt that Strahm has been very good as a starter so far (a 3.38 ERA and 37 strikeouts over 26.2 innings).

Falter has one minor league option left and the Phillies might give him one more start before using it — but the leash should be short.

The "Ending the Streak" Award: Phillies, losers of 6 straight

After firing off four wins in a row, including two against the defending champion Astros in Houston, the Phillies were above .500 for the first time and looked to be grooving this time last week. More than that, they had Bryce Harper nearing his return and the team's bullpen looked like it had found its stride.

What a difference a week makes. After dropping the finale in Houston, the Phils went on to get swept in Los Angeles and then the first two against the Red Sox at home. Thankfully, Taijuan Walker tossed a gem and the Phillies won the finale to end the streak at six.

The schedule will eventually get easier — the Rockies are on the slate next weekend — but can you really blame the schedule makers for what is happening on the field right now? They need to turn things around before the wheels come off.

The "Ending the Slump" award: Kyle Schwarber

It's no secret that Schwarber is one of the most three true outcome guys in baseball. He strikes out a lot, but also walks a ton and led the NL in homers last year. You take the good with the bad with Schwarber, who is also a fantastic locker room presence.

But he went 0-for his first 10 with five strikeouts against his old team on Friday and Saturday. Finally, with a pair of runners on base in the fourth in the Sunday finale, Schwarber found his timing. In that frame his RBI single put the Phillies on the board before his two-run home run put them firmly ahead by three in the sixth.

Everyone slumps, but Schwarber’s are uglier than most. Here's hoping he's made it through to the other side.

The "At Least His Elbow Looks OK" Award: Bryce Harper

Going all negative would be too much of a downer. These are, after all, the 2022 NL Champions. And the NLCS MVP hit his first home run this season in the middle game of this series loss. Bryce Harper actually — shockingly — looks like himself at the plate after an incredibly fast return from Tommy John Surgery. Harper had hits in every game in the series

Here's his blast from Saturday:

The Phillies were within two after that long ball and there was some buzzing at Citizens Bank Park that a comeback could be in the works. And then Connor Brogdon came in and allowed two more from the Sox. It was all for nothing, but it was a good sign that Harper has still got his power stroke.

The "Break time" award: Phillies schedule

Perhaps the schedule gods are finally doing the Phils a favor. With some terribly disappointing play last week, the Phillies will have a pair of off days — resting both Monday and Thursday with a short series against the Blue Jays at home in the middle.

Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler are slated to pitch in the two-game set, so perhaps by next weekend the pessimism will have subsided.

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