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Phillies Pitching Struggles May Cost Team Everything

Sept. 11, 2023

Morgan Killian-Moseley

The Phillies offense has proven that it can score early and score in bunches. That offense has helped the Phils to the lead in the National League Wild Card race.

But if the Phillies want to ensure their entry to the playoffs, let alone have a legitimate shot at playing deep into October, their pitching staff needs to get themselves sorted out.

Aaron Nola, the Phillies Opening Day starter six years running, may be pitching himself out of the Phillies' plans for 2024. While his 12-9 record is acceptable, his 4.64 ERA and 31 home runs allowed over 29 starts are not. Nola himself admitted that he hasn't been able to overcome pressure situations this season; and if one thing goes wrong during his starts, disaster soon follows. It's unknown whether Nola's decreased performance has anything to do with incompatibility with Phillies pitching coach Caleb Cotham, who took over the role in 2021; but the overall consensus is that Nola has grown more inconsistent as a starter over the past three years, and is no longer a guarantee to get through five innings when he takes the hill. When he's good, he's very, very good; but he's bad he's horrid.

Michael Lorenzen, the Phils' biggest acquisition at the trade deadline endeared himself to Phillies fans by throwing eight innings and giving up only two runs in Miami in his first start in a Phillies uniform, then pitching a no-hitter against the Nationals in his first home start at Citizens Bank Park. But it feels as though all his magic was depleted in those two starts. Lorenzen has allowed 22 runs (21 earned) across 21 innings pitched in his last four outings. Only one of those efforts was a quality start and that was against the Angels, whose struggles have been well documented this season.

Cristopher Sanchez has been a victim of circumstance for the most part this season. His 2-3 record betrays his 3.26 ERA, and he's turned out six quality starts in his 15 outings. But for some reason, the Phillies don't want to stretch him out too much. Sanchez has only five outings throwing 85 or more pitches, and has only gone into triple digits once. It seems a regular occurrence for Phillies radio analysts Larry Andersen and Kevin Stocker to question why Sanchez is removed from a game when he's performing well. This is especially true when the bullpen as of late has, to say the least, not.

Seranthony Dominguez was charged with a blown save against Miami last Friday and with the loss yesterday. Overall, it's been a struggle for him to be consistent.

The same can be said of Andrew Bellatti, who has a 4.70 ERA and 1.48 WHIP ratio in 26 appearances this season, and Jose Alvarado, who despite his 1.62 ERA and 1.20 WHIP seems to walk the tightrope in every one of his 34 outings this season. To the surprise of many, the reliever that manager Rob Thomson seems to trust the most in high-leverage, non-save situations seems to be Jeff Hoffman, a waiver-wire pickup from Cincinnati at the start of the season who has delivered a 2.35 ERA and an 0.91 WHIP over 45 appearances this season.

To juxtapose a phrase from another sport, hitting makes highlight reels, but pitching wins championships. The Phils pitching staff needs to step up over the last three weeks of the season if they want any shot at a championship.


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