The Memorial Day checkpoint is a great measuring tool for MLB teams. The Phillies are in the same position they found themselves in 2022. Philly is 25-28 and seven games behind the Braves in the NL East after splitting a four-game series in Atlanta this holiday weekend. The Braves and Phillies took turns grilling each other over the weekend. Phillies starting pitching Makes and Breaks this first Atlanta Braves series of the 2023 season.
But we have been here before. At this point in 2022, the Phillies were 24-29 and two games into Rob Thomson’s tenure as manager. They won eight in a row and 14 of 16 when Thomson took over. But can history continue to repeat itself?
Aron Nola Rollercoaster Ride
After a walk-off-style win to escape the sweep against the Diamondbacks, the Phillies were hoping to ride that wave into Atlanta. Thursday night kicked off the first of a four-game series with the current best team in the NL East, the Atlanta Braves. It was a back-and-forth ordeal (as many were in this series). Nola pitched well but still gave up 5 earned runs with 8 hits, 2 walks, and seven strikeouts. One filthy knuckleball made for a great TV moment.
The scoring went back and forth, starting with Austin Riley scoring a two-run homer to kick the scoring in the first. Alec Bohm added one of his own in the second. Stott gave the Phillies a lead with an RBI double. A tie score again in the second with a solo shot from Marcell Ozuna. Atlanta retakes the lead with a sac fly from Michael Harris II. Harper was not happy with that. He added a 445-foot solo homer, and the game was all tied at four a piece.
For the second time on the night, Austin Riley hits a homer giving the Braves the lead. Kyle Schwarber hits a game-tying double to right field in the seventh. At this point in the game, the margin for error was slim. Gregory Soto imploded, and in only 2/3 of an inning, he let up four hits and allowed three earned runs. Braves took the 8-5 lead, and that was all that would be needed to drop game one.
Friday night was not just a good night for Phillies pitching but a historical night. Taijuan Walker has been much better since getting the breaks beat off of him in San Francisco. He had through a scoreless 5.1 inning against Chicago five days ago. On Friday, he was not as crisp, letting ten hits and three earned runs in six and 2/3 inning pitched. It was enough to finish the job, but this was not the night’s story.
Craig Kimbrel reached a career milestone on Friday night against the Atlanta Braves, recording his 400th career save. Kimbrel is the second pitcher to record his 400th career save this season, as Red Sox pitcher Kenley Jansen did it earlier in May. Both pitchers recorded the milestone save against the Braves in Atlanta. Kimbrel becomes the 8th reliever ever to reach 400 saves. The Phillies win 6-4 over Atlanta. This tied the series at 1-1.
Our Ace Zack Wheeler
Zack Wheeler was the star of this game. He went a full 8 innings, only allowing three hits, one walk, and twelve dazzling strikeouts. This would be Wheeler’s tenth double-digit strikeout game with the Phillies. This was punctuated with a web gem-style play at third base by Alec Bohm. Stott would hit a sac fly, and Tre Turner hit an RBI double for all the scoring the Phillie would need in this contest. Kribrel comes in to close it out. He allowed a solo home run from Sean Murphy but held on to get the save, and the Phillies are up 2-1 in this series.
Game 4 Shellacking
After three close, often back-and-forth affairs, the Braves made sure that Sunday night’s series finale was anything but the same. Atlanta bust the game open with a seven-run first inning. When all was said and done, the Braves earned an 11-4 victory. This victory was punctuated by two homers from Matt Olson, four hits from Ronald Acuña Jr and Spencer Strider being Spencer Strider. Do not forget the homerun-robbing catch by Michael Harris II. He put the dagger through the potential game-changing dinger from Kyle Schwarber.
Newly acquired Dylan Covey went 2/3 inning for the Phillies, allowing six hits and five earned runs. Hoffman, Marte, and Stahm continue to pitch well out of the pen. Brogdon fell apart and allowed three runs in one inning. Andrew Vasquez allowed the Braves to pyle on with another all-wong, another earned run. The Phillies have to come out of Atlanta with a tie.
Starting Pitching Makes / Breaks Season?
After this weekend, the Braves extend their lead in the division to 5 and a half games over the Mets and seven games over the Phillies. But, surprisingly, their division lead is just 4.5 games at the moment because of the Miami Marlins. Who would have thought? The Phillies desperately need starting pitching help. The question will it be too late before it gets here? Time will tell.
Phillies starting pitching Makes and Breaks this first Atlanta Braves series of the 2023 season. With the season nearly one-third complete, they are on a pace for 76 wins. Not very inspiring.
Al is one of the two co-creators of Edge of Philly Sports. Al started radio and podcasting in 2012 and covering sports in 2015. A lifelong Philly sports fan since watching the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers with his grandfathers at age 7. Al always looks at the other side of the hot topics and gives his different outlook on those topics. Web and Graphic Design.