Well, that was brutal.

After gaining a 2-0 series lead over the Diamondbacks in the NLCS, the Phillies allowed Arizona to even up the series at two games apiece.

The Phillies managed to take Game 5 and gain back momentum before traveling back to Philadelphia to finish out the series.

But everything went wrong in Games 6 and 7. The whole Phillies team and its fanbase were shell-shocked when the D-Backs were the ones celebrating at Citizens Bank Park with a 4-2 win, taking the series in seven games.

It was a tough pill to swallow for the whole city. Almost everyone believed the Phillies were going to win back-to-back National League pennants after beating the Braves in the NLDS and defeating the D-Backs 10-1 in Game 2. That didn’t happen and now the Phillies will have to lick their wounds and look ahead to the 2024 MLB season.

So, what do the Phillies need to do next season?

Look to acquire more consistent contact hitters

Hitting home runs worked out beautifully for the Phillies in the Wild Card, NLDS, and Games 1, 2, and 5 of the NLCS

But one of the factors that really hurt them against the D-Backs was their over-reliance on the long ball. 

In Games 6 and 7, it was clear. The Phillies kept trying to make the ball go boom instead of putting it in play. 

They were trying too hard to get the crowd into it with the big hits when they should have been focusing on the small ball like the D-Backs perfected in Game 7.

Home runs are great. Amazing, even. But when you live and die by the home run, it can easily come back to hurt just as much as it can help. This was shown by Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, and Nick Castellanos going 0-23 combined in the last two games of the series at home. Many times it felt like they were trying too hard to be the hero.

Additionally, the Phillies biggest contact hitters Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott had multiple cold streaks throughout the playoffs. Luckily for them, Brandon Marsh was able to pick up their slack. Still, the eight hole hitter should never out hit the four hole and five hole hitters. And an automatic out shouldn’t consistently hit with the game on the line in the ninth spot of the order, but that was more of a managerial decision.

What the Phillies need to look more for this off-season is batters who get on base. Having pop is always a plus but the Phillies’ focus should be on acquiring some more consistent contact hitters.

Resign Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola might have just signed himself a new contract based on how he pitched in the playoffs. And, frankly, he deserves it.

In his first three starts against the Marlins, Braves, and Diamondbacks, Nola went 18.2 innings and only allowed 12 hits, 2 runs, and 1 walk. He struck out 19 and earned the win in all three starts. He was absolutely lights out and a big reason why the Phillies advanced to where they did. He was a great number two starter to Zach Wheeler.

Unfortunately, Nola got into some trouble in his second start against the D-Backs in Game 6. After a clean first inning, Nola gave up back-to-back solo shots and another run in the second inning. It put the Phillies in a deficit they would not come back from.

Sure, that was far from the best Nola inning. But his batters didn’t help him, either. After allowing those 3 runs in the second, Nola settled in and only allowed one run on a few hits. He was able to keep his team in the game without it going too much in favor of the D-Backs. 

His Game 6 performance aside, Nola had a great September and shined in the big moments of the postseason. If that doesn’t warrant him a new contract with the Phillies, I don’t know what will.

Nola has been one of the Phillies all-time pitchers and, honestly, I can’t see him anywhere else but Philly.

Jose Alvarado must close out games

The Phillies can’t throw Craig Kimbrel into the sun, but the next best thing they can do is release him. Thanks for a solid regular season, Craig, but it might be time to hang up the cleats on your Hall of Fame career.

What the Phillies need to do next season, plain and simple, is make Jose Alvarado their number 1 closer. I would love to see the CBP lights flashing when Alvarado makes his appearance out of the bullpen before the 9th inning.

It will take time, but the Phillies faithful will get over this NLCS loss. It stings, but as the old adage goes: There’s always next year.

Photo by Matt Rourke/Associated Press

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