After starting their season rocky, the Phillies have appeared to pull in the reins a little more, winning 6 of their last 8 games and taking a 3-1 series win over the Colorado Rockies at home. Let’s take a look at a few storylines from this weekend’s action.
Storyline 1: A Closer Steps up
It feels like it’s been a long time coming. Jose Alvarado finally appears to be the main reliever Rob Thomson turns to for save opportunities.
Alvarado picked up his first two saves of the year against the Chicago White Sox, firing two scoreless 9th innings on back-to-back days. Alvarado came into the 9th inning again in Friday’s game against the Rockies and nailed the door shut with another scoreless frame. While Craig Kimbrel did come in to save the very next game, it seemed like Thomson wanted to give Alvarado a day of rest.
It’s a wonder that a guy like Alvarado, with a remarkable pitch arsenal, hasn’t come in to close more often. Finally, it appears like Thomson’s closer-by-committee approach is becoming a thing of the past as one relief pitcher stands out from the pack.
Storyline 2: Castellanos finally does it
Nick Castellanos must have known of the death of the Brooklyn Nets season when he hit his first home run since August 27th of last year.
It was a rope to left field that survived the swirling afternoon winds and landed in the seats in Saturday’s contest against the Rockies. His liner over the wall was so shocking that 94.1 WIP Sports Radio producer James Seltzer shared his disbelief on Twitter.
His first home run was so nice; he did it twice. Both shots were off Rockies pitcher Kyle Freeland who had not been a fan of Citizens Bank Park coming into his start. Castellanos’ second home run of the year was the game’s difference.
Castellanos, who leads the MLB with 10 doubles as of writing, has been hitting the ball exceptionally well this season.
One of his flaws during his time in Philadelphia, however, has been the long ball. Before joining the Phils, Castellanos hit at least 23 home runs in 4 of his last 5 seasons ranging from 2017-2021. He hit a career-high 34 homers in the 2021 season with the Cincinnati Reds, which made many Fightins’ fans excited about his long-ball talents. Castellanos, who had struggled with injury, only hit 13 home runs last season while failing to hit a home run in the 2022 postseason and the first 21 games of this season.
Finally, the monkey came off Castellanos’ back as his homerless streak came to an end this weekend. He remains one of the Phils’ best bats this season.
Storyline 3: Dingers, dingers, and more dingers
Unexpected homers seemed to be the story for the Phillies in their final two games of their series with the Rockies. Besides Castellanos’ long balls on Saturday, Cristian Pache got into the homer column for his new team with a shot to center field.
While highly touted free agent signing Trea Turner tied a World Baseball Championship record for home runs with 5, the shortstop struggled to replicate that once the MLB season started. Finally, though, Turner homered in the White Sox series and shook the monkey off his own back. Batting in the two-spot of the order, Turner homered again for his first at CBP in Sunday’s series closer.
Following Pache’s footsteps just the day before, Kody Clemens sent a no-doubter to right field in the 3rd inning for his first home run in a Phillies uniform.
It didn’t stop there as Bryson Stott continued his already great start to the year with a two-run blast. Stott now has a .340 batting average, along with a .834 OPS.
Brandon Marsh, who has had a tremendous season so far as well, sent one to the deepest part of the yard for a two-run homer that iced the game in the 8th inning.
The hot-hitting Phillies will look to extend their three-game winning streak when the Mariners come to town for a three-game series starting on Tuesday.