Let’s just get one thing out of the way here.
The Dodgers are really, really good.
If you’re the type of fans who watched the Phillies play this series and now you think that the season is over you probably aren’t going to enjoy my style of writing. I’m not really the reactionary type. Sure, I’ll drop the occasional hot take here and there, but I like to look at the bigger picture more frequently. The 60 game season last year made everyone react to Phillies games like they are Eagles games, but you just can’t do that over a 162 game season or you’ll drive yourself crazy. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’m really slow so I’m not very good at either of those, but I digress.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t frustrated by the performance. When playing a team of the Dodgers’ caliber, you have to play a nearly flawless game in order to beat them. Instead, the flaws of the team that we’ve seen all season long were highlighted. You can make a couple of errors and leave runners on base against teams like the Mets and the Nationals, but you have to tighten things up when playing a team like this. They will pounce on every little mistake that you make.
Injuries and Scapegoats
The Phils are still a little banged up, which is important to note. Rhys Hoskins remains out, J.T. Realmuto left very early in the game, and several key bullpen pitchers like Connor Brogdon, Bailey Falter, and Sam Coonrod still remain out. They were fortunate enough to get Andrew McCutchen back, however, which is a good step in the right direction.
I’m not going to put all of the blame on one guy, but watching Alec Bohm play all season has become extremely tiring. He has struggled massively at 3rd base, and even struggled last night at 1st base. He was able to mask those struggles last year with a scorching hot bat. When you’re hitting .340 it’s a lot easier to pass with subpar defense. When you’re hitting .240 with 15 errors, it becomes more glaringly obvious. Is it possible that the two biggest prospects of this era of Phillies baseball are a slap hitting DH, and a starting pitcher that can’t go more than three innings that was dealt to Texas?
I still think the Phillies should explore moving Alec Bohm to Left Field if Andrew McCutchen walks this offseason, but that’s a conversation for another day. They won a World Series with Pat Burrell in Left Field, so anything is possible. Once late season baseball comes around, there’s a chance that Bohm has played himself out of the lineup. Every run counts once the weather starts to cool down, and defense and pitching prevail. They traded for a ground ball machine in Kyle Gibson, and putting Bohm out there when he pitches is very counterintuitive. Freddy Galvis was brought here for a reason, and Ronald Torreyes has been massive for this team all year long. There’s a chance Bohm becomes the right handed bat off the bench they’ve been looking for all season.
Another reason that the Phillies struggled this series was the emotional effects of multiple rain delays. Citizens Bank Park was ROCKING over the weekend against the Mets. With nearly 40,000 in attendance on Sunday, the team started to feed off of that energy. Two long rain delays in the first two games of the series has really hurt the energy that the team had built up.
They may not have won these games anyway, but they would have put up a lot more of a fight if there was a full house of fans there the entire night. We were robbed of another classic pitchers duel between Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer on Tuesday night. I do have to give Joe Girardi credit for using an opener last night, and saving Kyle Gibson until after the rain delay. That was some big brain stuff from a guy who has taken a lot of flak for some highly questionable managerial decisions this year.
What We Learned From the Dodgers Series
The series showed me more about the Dodgers than it did the Phillies. They have a former MVP in Cody Bellinger batting 7th on their team. That’s an incredible embarrassment of riches. His 13 pitch at bat that led to a HR sucked out whatever energy was left in the crowd, and that’s what championship teams do. The game was obviously not over at this point, but it was a big blow.
I would have liked to see a better showing by the Phillies this week, but that doesn’t take anything away from their 8 game winning streak. They were due to crash back down to earth at some point, and, facing the most talented roster in the league, they predictably did. A huge series against the Reds looms on the horizon, so there’s no time to dwell on a lost series. If the Phillies are unable to win the NL East, the Wild Card is still within reach. The Reds are one of the few teams in front of them, so this series should be a fascinating one.
The sky is not falling. There is still a lot of baseball left to be played.
What the Dodgers series showed me is that this Phillies team, when fully loaded, is truly not that far away. They just aren’t there yet.