Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

The Philadelphia Phillies lost two of three games against the Atlanta Braves in their MLB opening weekend series at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves hold a one game lead over the Phillie in the National League East.

Should Philadelphia fans sound the alarms? No, but they might do it anyway.

Braves Steal 2 of 3 From Phillies

Atlanta has celebrated six consecutive NL East crowns. They’ve jumped out to an early lead over the Phillies and the other three division teams who lost their respective opening series.

The new MLB schedule has eliminated division games to add more interleague series. Head-to-head chances to make up ground have lessened. A bullpen projected as one of the best in the majors handed the Braves an Opening Day victory with a rough afternoon.

The Phillies handed $172 million to Aaron Nola this offseason, but the veteran righty surrendered seven earned runs and 12 hits. These objective facts aren’t exactly encouraging for a World Series contender.

MLB Seasons Are 162 Games

The marathon of an MLB season consists of 162 regular-season games and 53 series. The Phillies are less than 2% of the way there. An underwhelming opening weekend doesn’t kill a season.

The experts who downplay the opening weekend speak with good reasoning. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that any reaction is an overreaction.

The Phillies have advanced deep into the postseason two years in a row. Those runs required them to catch fire late in the regular season though.

The organization has emphasized the need to get off to a better start. They didn’t do that during opening weekend. The Phillies haven’t come anywhere close to a failure to meet their goal yet. However, they would’ve liked to win their opening series in front of the home fans that were anxiously awaiting a home series at Citizens Bank Park for a franchise they consider back in yearly contention for the World Series.


  • The Good: A Top-Tier MLB Bullpen

    The bullpen went to work in the seventh inning on Opening Day with a 2-0 lead. Rob Thomson called their performance “uncharacteristic” for a unit with his full confidence.

    Matt Strahm and Jose Alvarado didn’t inspire optimism. Two of the primary lefties combined to allow seven earned runs. Connor Brogdon also struggled and brought the bullpen’s Opening Day total to five walks in three innings.

    Another high-leverage reliever struggled on Saturday. Seranthony Dominguez allowed two earned runs in only one inning of work. Fellow righty Luis Ortiz has already begun a trip to the IL.

    Why is this a positive takeaway then? The same pitchers who struggled on Opening Day already bounced back to help the Phillies salvage the final game of the season. Strahm and Alvarado each pitched scoreless frames to keep the offense in line for a late-inning rally.

    Thomson’s long-term confidence also translates to Dominguez, who allowed another run in his second appearance. The nature of MLB bullpens should dispel the tough day in the first of 162 games.

    Sleeper Yunior Marte also showed some of the flashes that helped convince the Phillies to keep him on the active roster for 40 appearances last season. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Opening Day with the game out of reach, hitting 95 MPH on the gun multiple times on a cold April day. He pitched another scoreless inning on Saturday.

    Yunior Marte, Philadelphia Phillies

  • The Bad: Aaron Nola Rocked

    The Phillies boast one of the best 1-2 punches at the top of any MLB starting rotation. Zack Wheeler lived up to the reputation with six shutout innings as the Opening Day starter. Aaron Nola did not follow suit.

    Thomson stuck with Nola throughout a brutal afternoon in a 12-4 loss that sunk the Phillies to 0-2. The Phillies skipper spoke after the game about how Nola helped the bullpen maintain availability for Sunday’s game by providing some length.

    Aaron Nola has experienced lapses throughout his 10 seasons in Philadelphia. The fan base won’t always cut him the same slack as other players. The 14.54 ERA will undoubtedly decrease quickly, but it certainly won’t earn him too much positive feedback after a poor performance in 2023.

    Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

  • The Bad: Trea Turner's Glove

    The early-season nightmare in 2023 is behind Trea Turner. He played more like the shortstop who commanded an 11-year, $300 million contract after a surprising standing ovation in August.

    Turner’s offensive struggles were glaring last season, but he also had the worst defensive season of his career. He led the majors with 23 errors, and FanGraphs listed him with -12 defensive runs saved.

    Jayson Stark spoke on The Best Show Ever about how Turner’s offensive struggles likely affected his approach in the field last season.

    He’s due for improvement closer to his career norms in 2024, but he didn’t show it in a small sample size. The high-priced shortstop botched a grounder for the only scoring error of Opening Day. He also missed a tougher grounder that was scored as a base hit in the seventh inning on Sunday.

    Turner showed why McCarthy and many others spoke confidently about a rebound season. He fielded a grounder up the middle in the fourth inning on Sunday and executed a good spin and toss to first base for the putout. 

    Turner, like Nola, has room for improvement and plenty of runway to achieve it.

    Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies

  • The Lucky: Bryce Harper Survives The Fall

    The most consequential result of the opening series against the Braves has nothing to do with the NL East deficit. The Philadelphia fan base collectively gasped on Saturday afternoon when Bryce Harper tumbled over the dugout fence in the first inning on Saturday afternoon.

    The franchise player stayed in the game, but he sat out on Sunday. Rob Thomson attempted to turn off the sirens by calling it a planned off day for a player who didn’t experience his expected spring training ramp-up.

    Harper doesn’t think like a normal professional athlete or a normal human being. He aggressively flew around the bases in Game 2 of the 2023 NLDS and cost the Phillies a chance for a comeback when he got doubled off.

    The Phillies will take the good with the bad because Harper used the mishap as motivation to lead his team past their division rivals. His staredown of Orlando Arcia during a Game 3 home run trot should remind you that his overaggressive approach is the same attitude that makes him great.

    Bryce Harper won’t take a trip to the IL after the hard fall, but the Phillies caught one major break.

    Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

  • Are the Phillies Still World Series Contenders?


    The Phillies will inevitably lose two of three games to another good MLB team in the middle of the season. It won’t bring the same reaction as the opening weekend series loss.

    Atlanta color commentator Jeff Francoeur spoke on 97.5 The Fanatic about how the Phillies and Braves have developed one of the best rivalries in Major League Baseball. The anticipation for the NL East clash at Citizens Bank Park was through the roof.

    Fans cheered the beloved Charlie Manuel throwing the first pitch to Larry Bowa on Opening Day. It was a letdown. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be frustrated when Trea Turner makes an error or when Aaron Nola struggles.

    Keep it within reason for a long season.

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