After clinching the first Wild Card spot in the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies are set to host the Miami Marlins in the NL Wild Card Series starting tonight. With a second consecutive successful season in the books, let’s take a look back at some of the amazing moves made by the Phillies in 2023 that turned out better than expected and contributed to their winning ways.
The signing of Craig Kimbrel
One of the key offseason free agent signings by the Phillies, Craig Kimbrel has turned out to be one of the best transactions the ballclub made in 2023. Signed only to a one-year, $10 million deal, the Kimbrel investment certainly paid off big time for the Phillies, as he has been rock solid as their closer. He was so dominant during the first half of the season that he didn't register his first blown save until after the All-Star break.
After posting sub-par seasons in 2021 and 2022, Kimbrel has bounced back tremendously this season, helping the Phillies secure many important victories, leading to their postseason berth. For the year, he has posted a strong 8-6 winning record with 23 saves, along with a 3.26 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 94 strikeouts in just 69 innings pitched. He has struggled a little in the past couple of months but has turned things around just in time to regain his top-notch form heading into the playoffs.
With the usually reliable Seranthony Domínguez struggling for much of the season, it was crucial that both Kimbrel and José Alvarado solidified the back end of the bullpen in closing out games for the Phillies. The fearsome duo did exactly that en route to their successful 90-win season. Hopefully, there is a chance Kimbrel will be back in a Phillies’ uniform as he heads into free agency at the end of the season.