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May 29, 2023

Five awards from Phillies' series split with the Braves

Brandon Marsh continues to mash at the plate and Craig Kimbrel picked up his 400th career save on Friday, but the Phillies' rotation is still messy.

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Kyle-Schwarber-Phillies-Braves-Home-Run Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports

Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber launches a home run.

If you've been under a rock the last eight weeks, here's a quick summary of this Phillies season: they're inconsistent. 

In a four-game road set against the Braves, the Phils went 2-2, leaving them three games under .500 at 25-28. They're 5-5 in their last 10 games and 10-10 in their last 20 games. A run that allows them to reach the postseason is still in the cards, but there's about a 50/50 shot at this point that an afternoon or night at the ballpark is going to have you pulling out your hair.

In Thursday night's 8-5 loss, Aaron Nola allowed five runs in six innings of work. On Friday, the Phils bats were alive in a 6-4 win that featured multi-hit games from both Bryson Stott and Nick Castellanos. Zack Wheeler was dominant on Saturday in a 2-1 W. To close things out Sunday night, Atlanta crushed the Fightins for seven runs in the first inning and that was that in an 11-4 loss. 

So, as we do, here are five awards from the series that was...

The "He Might Never Regress" Award: Brandon Marsh 🧔

Brandon Marsh's development at the plate this year has been a revelation, something not even his staunchest defenders could've imagined when the Phillies nabbed the "glove-first" outfielder from the Angels last season. Marsh is hitting .273 and an OPS of .857, both obviously career highs. Against Atlanta, Marsh picked up at least one hit in every game, including a homer on Sunday:

With the improvements the club has gotten from Marsh, Stott and Alec Bohm, the Phillies should be overachieving in the win-loss column. The way their stars have massively underperformed, however, is leaving them as a sub-.500 squad entering June. 

The "Wheelin' and Dealin'" Award: Zack Wheeler 🃏

Though the level of frustration for Wheeler isn't akin to the one Phillies fans are feeling for Nola right now, Wheeler has been off his peak level so far in 2023. Performances like the one he had on Saturday, striking out 12 batters across eight innings while surrendering just four total base-runners and no runs, will go a long way in re-establishing his position as an ace in the National League though.

Wheeler's ERA "dropped" to 3.60 on the season. That's by far his highest mark in his four seasons in red pinstripes, never having an ERA over 3.00 for an entire season for the Phillies before. The tide is turning though. Wheeler's strikeouts per 9 is at 10.5, the highest he's posted as a Phillie. His walk rate and home run rate are essentially at the same levels they've been from 2020 onward. I have faith in him getting it right. 

The "Don't Unpack Your Suitcase" Award: Dylan Covey 🧳

31-year-old Dylan Covey had the unfortunate task of being the "starter" for a bullpen game on Sunday against a potent Atlanta offense. Covey was making his first start since 2019. He didn't get out of the first inning, getting shelled for seven runs (five earned) and two homers. 

That was Covey's second appearance for the Phils after the organization claimed him off waivers from the Dodgers on May 20. It could also be his last...

The "Mr. 400" Award: Craig Kimbrel 🔥

After being a thorn in the Phillies' side for years with the Braves, it was finally Craig Kimbrel who was mowing down Atlanta in a Phillies uniform. Kimbrel recorded the 400th save of his career on Friday, pitching the final frame while allowing no runs and no hits. Kimbrel is the eighth pitcher ever to pick up 400 saves. 25 of those 400 saves have come against the Phils themselves. 

The "It's Almost June..." Award: Kyle Schwarber 🥪

Kyle Schwarber's batting average is still sitting at a putrid .168, but in four games against the Braves, Schwarber had an OPS of .389 and a slugging percentage of .462 while cranking a homer on Sunday:

When I'm talking about the Phillies' stars who have struggled, I'm looking directly at Schwarber and Trea Turner. I don't know what magic lies inside Schwarber's bat, perhaps turning into Mjölnir when the calendar flips to June and Schwarber becomes a Norse god at the plate, but the Phillies need that version of him ASAP.

On-Deck: Somewhere in Queens 🍎

The Fightins are off Monday and begin a three-game road series with the Mets (27-27) on Tuesday night. Here are the probable starters for the series:

Date Phillies  Mets
5/30, 7:10 p.m. Ranger Suárez (L)
Kodai Senga (R) 
5/31, 7:10 p.m. Aaron Nola (R)   Carlos Carrasco (R)
6/1, 1:10 p.m. Taijuan Walker (R)
Max Scherzer (R) 

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