For the second year in a row, the Philadelphia Phillies earned a spot in the postseason and went on a monster run. They almost made it to the World Series for the second time in two years but it was cut short by a Game 7 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National Championship Series.
The Phillies have never been the biggest market team, even though they have their moments when they signed Bryce Harper and Trea Turner to 10-plus year contracts, they aren’t always the team that has the most depth. They do, though, play with a lot of grit and fire which is what kept them in the mix of this year’s postseason. What ultimately led them to losing that last game to the Diamondbacks was the lack of productivity in their lineup. Of course their line up has their moments when it’s one of the most dangerous and filled with the most depth, but at other times it can simply be inexperienced, which is what happened in Game 7.
The Phillies ended Game 7 of the NLCS without a hit in their 17 plate appearances, which was the kicker for them. The 2022 World Series ended with the Phillies going 9-for-98, batting .092 over the final 30 innings. Both seasons when the Phillies beat the doubters and made it far into the playoffs, their bats went cold with just a few more games until they would have been champions. In Games 6 and 7 against the Diamondbacks, the Phillies went 2-for-17 with runners in scoring positions. After Game 2 they weren’t 5-for-34.
A lot to blame is put on the Phillies offense but it’s definitely more than that. To start, the team relied too much on 35-year old pitcher Craig Kimbrel. Even after he said he ‘didn’t have it that day’ following two batters, Phillies Manager Rob Thomson went right back to Kimbrel in game for. He did even worse that night than the night before in Game 4. Kimbrel opened the NLCS with a save, it was his fourth straight scoreless appearance to start off the playoffs. In those appearances he returned 10 of the 12 hitters he faced. These numbers are what made Thomson feel more comfortable with putting Kimbrel back in as he is having All-Star season outings, but it didn’t exactly work out in his favor.
Another reason is the way the Phillies roster is constructed. Taijuan Walker was on the Phillies’ playoff roster for every round and he did not see the mound. Mike Lorenzen was also on the roster for both the National League Division and the NLCS and only pitch one inning against the Braves; and that was after the fact that Philidpehia had an eight-run lead. Lorenzen picked up five outs in Game 6 in Arizona when Phillly was in a three-run deficit.
In other means with the roster, the team allowed for there to be too many young players in the lineup who I’m not sure were ready for that kind of spotlight and pressure that the playoffs in the MLB bring. They put 23-years old Johan Rojas and 22-year old Orion Kekering into huge roles almost as soon as they reached the majors. After a player injury, Rojas was called up and has been relied on to be the team’s center fielder. He rose and played tough defense as well as keeping up with the major league offense. For Kekering, he rapidly ascended the minor-league pitchers and when he came to the big leagues, he did not allow an earned run in his first seven outings with the Phillies. So, when you see these kinds of statistics from young guys early in their career, you like to keep them in the mix of things. Sometimes they break and sometimes they thrive; but under the pressure, they were not exactly playing at their best which was a cost for the Phillies.
Overall, there were many choices that the Phillies made that could have been changed. They have proved to be one of the teams that is severely chasing that ring and the World Series titles. The team has built up rosters that could have been capable of doing that but it came down to going cold on offense and chasing too many pitches at the plate. Some of the decisions made were not the most fun ones to look back at, but that’s the end of the Philadelphia Phillies for the 2023 season and we will just have to wait and see how they get back in the mix for a World Series next year.