August 21, 2023
Another week in the season down, and another week where the Phillies were, rather frustratingly, the Phillies.
The bats would punish teams one day, then go quiet the next, and all while the pitching left you holding your breath.
They split a two-game series with the Blue Jays up in Toronto, then came back down to Washington (and Williamsport for a night) to drop two of a crucial three in the NL East.
They're 67-57 entering Monday, with a two-game lead over the San Francisco Giants for the top Wild Card spot in the NL, and the Giants are in town this week. It's going to be a big series.
But until then, here's whose stock is up, and whose is down...
Jake Cave (.438 batting average, 1.569 OPS, 3 homers)
Yeah, this was a no-brainer to start off. Jake Cave absolutely raked this week, with his third homer giving the Phillies a chance to try and stage a ninth-inning comeback in Sunday night's Little League Classic over in Williamsport.
J.T. Realmuto (hit .294 with a .706 OPS and 2 doubles)
It's been a spotty year for Realmuto, but he did produce this week and drove in two runs that helped keep the Phils alive in a disastrous start for Michael Lorenzen on Friday (more on that in a bit).
He's a key part of the lineup no matter how you try and put it, so seeing him trend upward late in the season, when the Phillies are going to need everyone's best the most is huge.
Bryce Harper (hit .333 with a 1.222 OPS and 2 homers)
Just Bryce Harper doing Bryce Harper things.
Nick Castellanos (hit .227 with a homer)
Not all that great of a week numbers-wise, but that homer Castellanos hit on Saturday down in Washington was crucial in at least salvaging a win out of the Nats series.
The Phillies' bats were completely quiet to that point down 3-0 in the seventh, but then boom, tie game and the lead-in to what totaled into a 12-run rally.
And he did this on the anniversary of his iconic homer during Thom Brennaman's "apology."
Media Little League
Played their hearts out and did it all with the Phillies in the stands pulling for them. You made DELCO proud, boys.
big advice for these Little Leaguers pic.twitter.com/dTrpOc46xj— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 20, 2023
Michael Lorenzen (L and 7 runs given up to WSH on Aug. 18)
Yeah, this was a pretty brutal fall back down to earth after the no-hitter.
Lorenzen lasted only 3.1 innings against the Nats, and even though the Phillies' offense kept them in it, that one extra run allowed by Gregory Soto in relief proved one too many in an 8-7 loss.
For now, this can probably be dismissed as a one-off – Lorenzen is only three starts in as a Phillie after all, and he did go eight and then nine innings in his first two – but it's tough to take a loss like that when it could've easily flipped the script on what became a series loss.
Aaron Nola (4 runs and a homer given up to TOR on Aug. 16)
Nola did get the win in his last start against the Blue Jays, getting through five innings and striking out seven, but that was heavily aided by an offensive outburst that bailed him out of another early hole he dug.
So the story very much remains the same: Either the stars align, everything goes perfectly, and Nola looks like an ace (usually against one of baseball's weaker clubs) or he gets through the first couple innings easy, then lets a baserunner on and begins to unravel, exhausting way too many pitches trying to escape, which ultimately chases him out of the game (usually after a homer or two).
Here's what Nola's last five starts have looked like:
|Start||IP||R (ER)||H / HR||K / BB|
|July 23 @CLE||7.0||3 (3)||6 / 2||7 / 0|
|July 29 @PIT||4.2||7 (5)||9 / 1||6 / 3|
|Aug. 4 vs. KC||5.1||5 (5)||8 / 2||8 / 1|
|Aug. 10 vs. WSH||5.0||1 (1)||5 / 0||6 / 1|
|Aug. 18 vs. TOR||5.0||4 (4)||4 / 1||7 / 4|
He has the start Monday night against San Francisco to kick off a series crucial to the NL Wild Card race.
Do you trust him with it?
Do you trust him in a do-or-die playoff start right now?
Alec Bohm (batted .174 through the week)
Bohm's slump continued into this week, hitting a low .174 with a .382 OPS across the series against the Blue Jays and Nationals. He's making contact, as he's only struck out three times in 24 total plate appearances, but not all that great contact, nor is he working at-bats, with just one walk throughout the past week.
Might be gripping the bat a little too tight right now.
Trea Turner (batted .211 through the week)
Turner homered twice in that sudden outburst down in Washington on Saturday, but his numbers tapered off again just when it looked like he was finally turning a corner.
Trea Turner's answer of Elon Musk will probably stir up some opinions. pic.twitter.com/fOmUrpTn0V— The Comeback (@thecomeback) August 20, 2023
Zack Wheeler pitched seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 loss to Toronto on Tuesday, then struggled to get settled in at Williamsport against the Nationals on Sunday night – giving up four runs in the first alone. But he steadied himself and ultimately went another seven innings, giving Washington nothing else outside of that first frame, although the Phillies went on to lose that game too.
He's definitely the best starter the Phillies have right now and will be the first guy on the mound to start off any postseason series for better or worse, so maybe the hang up lies more over the concern of the Phillies' starting pitching depth overall, rather than Wheeler.
If he gives you his best, can the guys behind him push the Phils the rest of the way to the finish line?
Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports