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April 09, 2023

No more panicking: Five awards from the Phillies series win vs. the Reds

The Phillies had one of their worst starts to a season ever, but returned home to winning ways as they raised their NL pennant on Friday, and got their NL championship rings on Sunday while winning two of three games against the Reds to improve to 3-6 on the young season.

As we'll do after every series this season, we've handed out some (fake) hardware for the top performers on the diamond against Cincinnati. Here are five awards from a much needed pair of wins against the Reds:

The "first round validation" award: Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott

The recent history of Phillies first round picks has been a shaky one. For every Aaron Nola, the team selected a handful of other players who never panned out — like Adam Haseley or Mickey Moniak or Cornelius Randolph. This season with Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and others hurt, it's really encouraging to see the hot start for Bryson Stott and Alec Bohm, both recent top draft picks.

First Stott, who ripped a walk-off hit in the middle of this series:

With the single he hit in the fourth inning Sunday afternoon, Stott entered his sixth multi-hit game of the year and extended his hit streak to start the year to nine games. On the second hit of his in the finale, he was driven home by Alec Bohm, who hit his second homer of the season to put the Phils up 4-2. 

Bohm has been impressive to start the year as well, hitting .333 while fielding cleanly at both first and third base. Could this tandem become a Chase Utley/Jimmy Rollins line infield duo? With Trea Turner, their fielding trio could be set for the next half decade-plus.

The "well that's a relief" award: Nick Castellanos

After starting the season hitting .182 during the Phillies' 6-game road trip, Castellanos had many concerned that the Phillies $100 million investment last offseason might wind up being a boondoggle. 

However, in the home opener Castellanos stepped up big time, two doubles and drawing a key walk as the Phils won 5-2. He added an RBI in the Sunday finale, and is showing he is worthy of a spot in the middle of the batting order.

"The bullpen still stinks" award: Phillies relief pitchers

After an abysmal start to the year as the de facto worst relief pitching unit in baseball, the pen looked like it was going to pull it together, allowing just two earned runs over 11 innings prior to the ninth inning Sunday. The bullpen was a unit the front office spent a lot of effort and money on over the past few months. After three years of bullpen frustration, a ton of turnover created a different bullpen with a bevy of arms that can close ballgames.

However, nursing a two-run lead in the final game of the set, Craig Kimbrel allowed a run in his frame, the eighth, before Seranthony Dominguez showed a lack of control in the ninths, blowing a save thanks to a single and two walks — leading to a bases clearing double putting the Reds up 6-4. He issued two of the Phils nine walks in their regrettable loss. The 'pen has some big names with a track history of success, but eventually they'll have to show it in the clutch.

The "Good job not panicking" award: Phillies fans

A 1-5 start is a legitimate reason for worry. But a series win upon returning home certainly helps give pause to the Chicken Little Phillies fans who thought this season could be lost after one week. A sweep would have been better, but progress is progress.

Most of the biggest areas of failure have turned around — most importantly their pitching (the end of Sunday's loss notwithstanding) — while the hitting remained impressive with the Phillies back at home. The schedule should remain fairly easy as Philadelphia endeavors to get above .500 over the next few days. A trio of home games to start the week are followed by four games against these same lowly Reds. The White Sox finish their next road trip (a team projected to go 80-82 by fivethirtyeight), before another bad team in the Rockies comes to South Philly. 

The "Division race starts now" award: Miami Marlins

The Phillies will be the last team in the NL East to face a divisional foe, when the Marlins come to town Monday evening. Miami trails Philly in the standings now, and will have its ace on the hill in the opener in Sandy Alcantara — who will face Matt Straham and the Phillies bullpen as the team continues to wait for Ranger Suarez' healthy return.

Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler will provide the Phils with more favorable matchups in the latter two games of the series, the last of which is a 4 p.m. start.

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