What’s Next? Where the Phillies Go After Brutal Collapse in ‘23 NLCS

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Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning in Game 2 of the baseball NL Championship Series in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The Philadelphia Phillies, clear favorites to reach the World Series over the 84-win Arizona Diamondbacks, failed to do so after a Game Seven loss on Tuesday night.

The collapse included the Phillies four of the final five games, blowing leads in game three and four. With the Phillies losing two straight games at Citizens Bank Park to be eliminated, the team and the fans were crushed.

Now comes the brutal reality of not playing in the World Series and that their offseason starts now. With that being said, they have some decisions to make this winter. Where do they go from here?

Sentimental Decisions for the Phillies

Free agency starts immediately after the World Series and the Phils have some tough decisions to make regarding some of their homegrown free agents.

First baseman Rhys Hoskins and starting pitcher Aaron Nola are unrestricted free agents who played the year out, without extensions. Hoskins tore his ACL during spring training and was out the entire year, hoping to get a chance to play in the World Series.

Aaron Nola had an up and down year posting a 4.46 ERA after last season’s 3.25 ERA. He also gave up 32 homeruns, which was by far the most in his career. Nola had better starts after tweaking some mechanics in September.

He had an amazing start to the postseason before giving up six hits, four earned runs, and two home runs. Nola picked the worst moment to have a blow-up inning, which allowed the D-Backs to take control of Game 6.

Nola and the Phillies couldn’t come to an agreement this offseason on an extension, but the Phillies will have to compete with the market if they truly want their co-ace back. It’s been rumored that the St. Louis Cardinals will be one of the teams who will be at Nola’s doorstep to pry him away from the Phillies. Hoskins’ injury could have pushed him off the roster.

With his injury, Harper committed and went to first base to help the Phillies’ defense out and he looked like a solid first baseman at the end of the year. If Harper continues to play first, where would Rhys fit on the roster? The Phillies have some decisions to make, and it starts with these homegrown stars.

Possible Replacements

If the Phillies were to lose Aaron Nola, who could they target in the free agency market? Many players could be interested in the Phillies even with them falling short this season. They could target aces like Blake Snell or Sonny Gray. They could also target quality number two starters like Marcus Stroman or Jordan Montgomery.

Diamondbacks vs phillies
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola tips his hat after being relieved during the sixth inning of Game 3 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

With Kimbrel’s day in Philadelphia numbered, they need to address the need of a true closer. Would they go after players like Liam Hendricks or Josh Hader, two of the top-notch closers in the game? Do they get some more consistent bats in the lineup in the outfield?

The Phillies have to address some areas of concern if they want to get back to the World Series and win the pennant.

Losing the pennant to the Diamondbacks definitely should leave a sour taste in the mouths of the players and the organization. They need to do everything they can to keep this window of winning open. Knowing the Phillies, they will be active this off-season, in a quest to get back to the World Series.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)