29 runs scored in 28 innings. 33 runs against a team that boasted a 2.26 ERA prior to the start of the four-game series.
Three wins to one loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who many view as one of the best, if not the best, franchise in all of baseball. 

The positives to come out of this weekend are as numerous as the runs the Phillies piled up against their west-coast big brother. For a team that appeared to be limping into the week, a 5-2 road record against the Seattle Mariners and the Dodgers is nothing to scoff at. Bryce Harper was in prime mid-season form, putting up historic numbers at his home away from home, Chavez Ravine; Jean Segura continued to be one of the Major League’s hottest hitters, slashing .500 with four homers, nine RBIs and 11 runs scored in his past nine games. Rhys Hoskins finally warmed up, hitting .375 with four homers and 10 RBIs on the road trip. Kyle Schwarber hit two home runs and drove in five against the Dodgers, Alec Bohm continued to excel, and Bryson Stott had an offensive breakout in Friday night’s win. 

It was a series, in large part, that made a statement – not just in the fact that the Phillies won the first three games but in how they won them – soul-crushing, slug-fests in which they consistently proved they had more firepower than the Dodgers could muster in their own stadium. It told the league that the Phillies have in fact been sorely underachieving, and that when all things are clicking, are as dangerous and deep a lineup as any in baseball. 

It also told the league another important fact, this one all too familiar to Phillies fans over the past few years: this team has a weakness and that weakness, per usual, is its bullpen. 

11 runs were surrendered by the bullpen across those four games. Two save opportunities were blown.

One chance at sweeping the elite of the elite and making up a game on the New York Mets, was squandered. How much more do we have to see?

Photo: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The most important fact is this: the team’s historic offense this past weekend may have been an aberration from the norm, but it was not an unexpected aberration. That is to say, we all know the lineup is capable of producing at or close to this level – it’s what this team was designed to do after all. But to win by out hitting the other team, the Phillies cannot play rope-a-dope with the opposing team’s offense. Two of the team’s wins – and their only loss – came at the expense of an unsustainable level of offense. Winning at the expense of the bullpen isn’t a recipe for success, but rather making the best of a bad situation. It’s putting Flex Seal on a crack in the Hoover Dam – sooner than later, the levee is going to burst. 

This isn’t to say that the Phillies lack suitable bullpen depth or talent – on the contrary Corey Knebel, Brad Hand, Seranthony Dominguez and Jeurys Familia are all incredibly talented relievers with a diverse array of skill sets. None of them, however, are shut down closers. After this weekend’s debacle – a series that easily could have ended up with the Dodgers winning three of four instead of the Phillies – the need for a top-tier arm in the ninth inning is clear. Such an arm would allow the incumbent talent to flourish in lower-stakes situations like the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings while also giving even younger prospects such as Connor Brogdon, James Norwood, and erratic flame thrower Jose Alvarado opportunities to prove themselves when the game is not on the line. 

Such a move – likely involving a trade for a talent like Milwaukee’s Josh Hader – would be costly for the Phillies. However costly, the Phililies’ championship odds continue to fall by the day; the latest Philadelphia Phillies odds can be found at SportsBettingDime.com. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski would be forced to leverage the playoff aspirations of this current salary-cap breaking expense of a roster with the team’s future three to five years down the line. Then again, Dombrowski’s contract with the team only lasts through 2024. He might not be here in three, much less five years.

Maybe that will be the deciding factor as Dombrowski steers this team towards the trade deadline.

Featured Image: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
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