It is a new season, but the first series of 2020 had a familiar feeling for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Against a Miami Marlins team that is projected by most to finish last in the National League East, the Phillies only took one of three games.
The Phillies have struggled greatly against the Marlins in recent memory. Dating back to last June, the Marlins are 10-5 against the Phillies and 20-54 against everybody else. Up next, COVID-19 permitting, is four games against the New York Yankees, one of the best teams in baseball.
Here are three numbers to remember from the Phillies difficult start to the season:
6.17 – Bullpen ERA
It was not all bad from the Phillies pitching staff in this series. They got an excellent start from offseason addition Zack Wheeler, and Aaron Nola was solid until a tough sixth inning cost him the game in the season opener.
Vince Velasquez struggled on Sunday, but it was ultimately the bullpen that failed to keep the Phillies in the game. Velasquez left the game with the Phillies leading 5-4, and the bullpen proceeded to give up seven runs over the next six innings en route to a tough loss.
For the Phillies to contend this season, the bullpen has to keep them in reach in close games. Too often in 2019, the starting pitcher left in a close game and the bullpen let the opponents lead become too much for the lineup to overcome.
19 – Walks
The Phillies being able to work counts and reach base is important. However, despite these walks, they still struggled to score enough runs throughout the series.
Only two players who reached on a walk came around to score, and both of these runs came in the Phillies lone win of the weekend on Saturday.
On Sunday, the Phillies left the bases loaded in three separate innings. While the six runs they scored can be enough in some games, the lineup must do a better job of scoring men who reach base more consistently.
Six – Home Runs
One thing the Phillies did not lack this weekend was power.
In their loss on Friday, Didi Gregorius scored the only two runs that the Phillies managed in the game, one coming on a fifth inning home run. On Saturday, Gregorius hit another solo blast, this one against Marlins left-hander Caleb Smith.
The Phillies kept piling it on in Saturday’s game, starting with a two-run home run from Phil Gosselin that broke the tie in the sixth inning. Catcher J.T. Realmuto added a home run of his own the following inning, this one good for three runs. Gosselin added one more in the eighth inning, the first multi-home run game of his career.
In Sunday’s loss, Bryce Harper gave the Phillies an early 3-0 lead with a bullet to right field. It was Harper’s first runs batted in on the season, but was not enough as the Phillies failed to keep up with the Marlins offensive onslaught.
While the Phillies struggled to score runners that were on base, they did not look lost offensively. The lineup is certainly the strongest aspect of the team, and will likely have to carry the load throughout the season while the rotation and bullpen try to figure it out.
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