For the first time in what felt like forever, we had REAL Phillies baseball yesterday. Roughly 120 days removed from their scheduled season opener, the Phillies made their season debut against the Miami Marlins.
Usually, teams all across the MLB would be knee-deep in trade rumors as teams looked to shore up any weaknesses for a second-half push. This year, however, we’ll have to settle for the season opener as a Christmas in July gift of sorts. The gift of the Phillies Opening Day may not have brought the fireworks Philly faithfuls would like to see, but it wasn’t without its highlights.
Let’s dive into some of the takeaways from last night’s Opening Day loss to the Marlins.
Nola Soars…until he doesn’t
Making his third consecutive Opening Day start, Aaron Nola was locked in to begin the game. The former first-rounder showcased a lot of movement on his off-speed pitches and seemed to be in cruise control through four, allowing only one earned run.
The talented hurler did run into a bit of trouble in the top of the fifth, however, as he allowed a two-run homer to Jesus Aguilar. Although the pitch was hammered, I wouldn’t go as far as to say Nola made a bad pitch and his final line is not reflective of how good he looked yesterday.
Nola didn’t turn in a Cy Young performance yesterday, but with seven strikeouts in less than six innings in his first outing, he certainly pitched well enough to inspire hope moving forward.
Okay so remember how I said Nola’s final line wasn’t truly reflective of his outing? Yeah, that’s because the pitcher sent in to relieve him- rookie right-hander Ramon Rosso- allowed an inherited runner to score on a wild pitch, inflating the numbers of Nola a bit.
Rosso was confusingly called upon to relieve Nola in the first high leverage situation of the game. This was a bit of a puzzling move by Girardi, who is known for his superb bullpen management skills. Perhaps Girardi just wanted to see what he had in the young reliever, but the decision certainly came back to bite him.
To Rosso’s credit, it was his major league debut so some jitters are to be expected and is probably why he displayed such little command yesterday.
On the bright side, the 24-year old did consistently flash a rather powerful fastball, so hopefully, he can be of service down the line when called upon again.
Another player making his debut for the Phillies, Didi Gregorius did just about everything he could to keep the Phillies in this game. The former Yankee and Joe Girardi favorite belted a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth to briefly even the score.
He would later notch another hit and come around to score, accounting for each of the Phillies meager two runs.
If the Phillies are to be successful this shortened season, they will need Gregorius to be a steady presence in the lineup. If his Opening Day performance was a sign of things to come, the Phils may be in for a treat.
Quiet Night of Offense
As I mentioned earlier, Gregorius was practically the sole bright spot in the Phillies lineup yesterday. The bats were awfully silent as Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara grew more and more comfortable on the mound.
The Phils only recorded five hits all game and got next to nothing from their breadwinners in this contest. Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen, and J.T Realmuto, who will be heavily relied on to ignite and carry the Phillies offense, went a combined 1-14 in tonight’s outing. Yuck. I’d expect a much hungrier lineup to show up in Game 2 of this series.
So, things didn’t go quite according to plan for the Phillies as they were unable to secure the victory to open the season. Still, though, there is a ton of baseball left to be played (kinda, lol) and this early season loss shouldn’t hurt them too badly.
In Game 2 of the series, offseason addition Zack Wheeler will take the mound for the first time in a Phillies uniform. Fresh off the birth of his newborn son Wesley, Wheeler looks to add on to what has been a tremendous week for him already.