Bad baseball has been the theme for the Phillies over the first 12 games this season. Poor fundamentals on the bases, inconsistent pitching, and leaving runners in scoring positions have led to a 4-8 start for the reigning National League champs.
The Phillies have won just 1 series this season, and it was against the Cincinnati Reds, the team they head on the road to play their next 4 games against. If the Phillies can clean up their act, they could have a very successful road trip over the next week and can turn this slow start around.
Bryson Stott, Alec Bohm, and Brandon Marsh have been on fire to start the season.
Stott has hit safely in all 12 games to start the season, including 9 multi-hit games already. Alec Bohm has unlocked his power, hitting 3 home runs already this season. Brandon Marsh has crushed anyone that dares to step on the mound against him, as he leads the team with 1.280 OPS.
These three hitters have been the lifeline of the Phillies’ offense so far. With a struggling JT Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber in the middle of the order, these three have stepped up to carry the Phillies.
Nick Castellanos has really stepped up to start 2023 as well. As I wrote this offseason, he just needed to settle back in at the plate. He has done that and really improved his plate discipline. He leads Major League Baseball with 8 doubles and has anchored the cleanup spot in the Phillies lineup.
The Phils will face some tough pitching in this series, but they are more than capable of winning each game. Here is tonight’s lineup vs Nick Lodolo.
Take a Stand
Pitching has been a really weak area for the Phillies in 2023.
Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler have not looked like the two aces we have been accustomed to in the previous seasons of Phillies baseball. Taijuan Walker has been okay but hasn’t lived up to the contract he signed thus far. The Phillies have won just 1 of the 8 games in which Nola, Wheeler, and Walker have started.
Bailey Falter and Matt Strahm have been the two starters who have given the Phillies some quality outings. The Phillies will be without Ranger Suarez for about another month, so they are going to have to rely on these guys to continue to pitch well.
The bullpen has been a wash for the first 12 games of this season. Despite some strong individual performances, they haven’t worked well as a group. I would like to see Alvarado in the closer role until further notice, and Gregory Soto should not enter a game any earlier than the 7th.
I am asking for a Phillies pitcher to take charge this weekend against the Reds. Take the ball and don’t look back. Win a game for this club and change the momentum that this team has faced just 12 games into the season. Make a statement and put the team on your back. If that happens, I am willing to bet that the pitching staff would follow suit.
In this edition of Watson’s Watchlist, I am going to cover 3 things that I want to see and expect to see in this upcoming series against the Reds.
1. Phillies win 3 of 4 games
I expect the Phillies to win at least 3 games this series. The Reds are not a very good baseball team, and they aren’t trying to be competitive.
The Phillies got a taste of the Reds this past weekend at home. There will be no surprises being thrown their way, and it is simply just two teams going head to head. The Phils are the superior team and need to start playing like it.
If they can win 3 of the next 4 games, they will be sitting at a 7-9 record heading into Monday’s series against the White Sox.
2. Aaron Nola goes 8 Innings
I think Aaron Nola is due for a breakout game.
The Phillies ace is more than capable of delivering 8 strong innings in a ballgame, and we have seen it plenty of times before. The Reds lineup is not much of a threat, and Nola didn’t face them this past weekend in Citizens Bank Park. Since it will be their only time facing Aaron, if he can lock in on Sunday, I expect to see his best start in 2023.
3. Trea Turner hits his first Home Run
The Phillies All-Star shortstop was pressing in his first few games at Citizens Bank Park.
It felt like Trea wanted to hit his first home run with the team and was trying to show out for the home fans. While I can appreciate the sentiment, I would much prefer Turner to stay true to the hit game.
Now that the Phils are hitting the road for 7 games, hitting his first home run and getting out of the way would be a huge deal for the team. Trea can take a deep breath and just relax at the dish, allowing him to spray the ball all over the park.
I expect Turner to go deep against the Reds at some point in this series. Once he does, he will being to unleash the elite bat that the Phillies signed him for.
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire