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April 16, 2023

5 awards for Phillies series split with the Reds

The Phillies' frustrating start to 2023 continued this weekend in Ohio, as the Phillies showed wild inconsistency in a 2-2- series split against the Reds.

Somehow the Phillies simultaneously have one of the worst, and best offenses in baseball so far. Paired with one of the worst pitching staffs, their 6-10 record is surprising to no one.

Here's some hardware we've decided to hand out to some superlatives (and stinkers) from their series in Cincinnati:

The "Joe DiMaggio Jr." award: Bryson Stott

It's been 16 games and 16 games with a hit for Stott, who is absolutely pummeling the ball this season to the tune of a .380 batting average so far this season. The second baseman wasted no time at all in Sunday's finale, blasting a solo shot after a brief rain delay to give the Phils and starter Aaron Nola an early lead. With the dinger he also tied the franchise record for games in a row to start a season with a hit in each one.

Stott's production has been astounding, as he's emerged as the team's go-to leadoff man and a hitter who typically sees a lot of pitches and is deliberate as he tallies hit after hit. No National League hitter has more than Stott's 27 hits this season. He is is just 40 games away from DiMaggio's all-time hitting record (that was meant as a joke... right?).

The "Quantity Over Quality" award: Phillies starting pitching

Heading into Sunday's matinee, the Phillies as a team had just three quality starts (six innings pitched, three runs allowed or less) in 15 games. Those 15 games combined to create just two wins for Phillies starting pitching. One of those two came Friday, when Taijuan Walker had his best outing as a Phillie going six innings and allowing just four hits and one run.

There has been an awful trickle down effect from the team's lack of quality starting pitching. The Phillies starters have, through the first 15 games, bequeathed 29 runners to relief pitchers — the third most in baseball. This in addition to the obvious stress that the lack of deep starting performances has put on the Phillies has made for ugly results. The pen has been overworked and while that doesn't make up for the relief corps also being awful, it certainly doesn't help. Nor does the offense being so wonky that in Saturday's 13-0 loss the team put infielder Josh Harrison out there to get pulverized as he tried to mercifully end the shutout loss.

A fourth quality start this year came from Nola, who barely hung on for six innings and three runs in the finale Sunday. He scattered eight base runners but gave the bullpen a much-needed break.

The "Benchwarmers" award: Phillies bench

The Phillies regular have been, by most measures, productive so far this season. The bench has not.

Here's a look at how the non-starters on the roster were performing prior to Sunday's blow-out win (everyone who has not appeared in 12 or more games so far):

Jake Cave33.182/.263/.303
Josh Harrison17.176/.222/.176
Christian Pache16.267/.267/.400
Garrett Stubbs13.154/.214/.154
Kody Clemens12.083/.154/.083

A three-run bases clearing double from Cave and another RBI from Harrison helped the Phillies score nine in the first inning Sunday. Cave actually added a fourth RBI later in the win. Having bench pieces that can fill in and contribute more regularly will be key for the Phillies who continue to tango with the injury bug.

The "Nine is Fine" award: Phillies offense Sunday

Baseball is weirder than the other sports. Less than 24 hours after the offense did not show up in a 13-0 laugher Saturday — perhaps their most embarrassing loss in a while — the offense exploded for nine runs in the first inning in a 14-3 win to clinch a series 2-2 split. In the 23-hit barrage, Trea Turner impressively reached base four separate times in the first four innings.

The same kind of thing happened already this season, when the Phils opened their series last week against the Marlins with a random 15-3 win following a loss the afternoon prior. The consistency is absolutely not there for the Phils, who have scored three or fewer runs seven times this season (they are 5-3 when they score more than three, 1-7 when they do not).

Sort of ironically, it was a nine-run inning on the defensive side that undid the Phillies three weeks ago in Texas in their weird 11-7 season opening loss.

The "South Side" Award: Chicago White Sox (next opponent)

The White Sox are next on the agenda for Philly, as the local team will fly from Cincinnati to the Windy City for a trio of games starting Monday. It's yet another team with a losing record and low expectations that should be a layup for the Phils on the early part of the schedule.

Zack Wheeler, Bailey Falter and Taijuan Walker will start for Philadelphia with two night games and a 2 p.m. start in the series in Chicago. The team will return home to host the Rockies next weekend.

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