2 reasons Phillies fans should still have optimism following disappointing series in NY

Kyle Schwarber, #12, Philadelphia Phillies
Kyle Schwarber, #12, Philadelphia Phillies / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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The emergence of Matt Strahm has given the Phillies a star in the bullpen as summer begins

To begin the 2023 season, Matt Strahm was the fourth or fifth option as a starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. However, Strahm's intended role in Philly was to be a reliever in the bullpen that could cover longer stretches, and players returning from injury have given the 31-year-old to shine in his return to the bullpen.

Strahm has been phenomenal in the first third of the 2023 Regular Season. He holds a record of 4-3, an ERA of 3.13, and a WHIP of 1.018 with 51 strikeouts in 37.1 innings pitched so far this year. This has been a significant step up as the 2012 21st-round pick currently holds a career record of 21-31, an ERA of 3.74, and a WHIP of 1.187.

Following his big league debut with the Kansas City Royals in 2016, the North Dakota native spent time with the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox before coming to Philadelphia on a two-year $15 million deal over the offseason. Strahm has utilized his three-pitch arsenal of a fastball, slider, and cutter well, as BaseballSavant.com ranks Strahm in the 84 percentile or higher in whiff percentage, expected batting average, and strike percentage in 2023.

However, Strahm's emergence in the bullpen and as a starter would likely not have been possible if it weren't for injuries giving him chances as a starter, and players coming back from injury can only bode well for the Phillies in June. Left-handed starter Ranger Suárez made his 2023 debut in May and could begin to find his groove coming off a game in Citi Field, where he pitched 6.2 innings and allowed five hits and two runs with four strikeouts. Bullpen arm Josê Alvarado will also be returning sometime during the month, meaning the Philadelphia Phillies' ability to close out games will only improve as time goes on

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