The stars vanished into the sunset
During this postseason, the likes of Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos helped carry the Phillies during their playoff run, all while setting records along the way. However, it sure felt like they were nowhere to be found when the team needed them most in Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS.
In the final two games of the series, the usually reliable quartet would combine to go a woeful 1-for-28 with 11 strikeouts. For those expecting them to rise to the occasion to help put the Phillies into the World Series, they certainly laid a big egg in the end that ultimately led to their demise.
At the same time, some of the lesser lights couldn’t help make up for the lack of production as the Phillies’ season vanished along with the stars.
Phillies couldn’t capitalize on the unknown Diamondbacks bullpen
For many of the playoff-contending teams, their bullpen usually consists of at least some high-profile, dependable arms, like José Alvarado and Craig Kimbrel for the Phillies, Aroldis Chapman and Will Smith of the Texas Rangers, and Ryan Pressly and Hector Neris of the Houston Astros. These heavyweights are usually combined with a strong supporting cast of relievers that have shown to be successful in the past.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, comprised a makeshift bullpen that was changed constantly throughout the 2023 regular season.
But when they finally pieced together their current bullpen core of some non-household names such as Ryan Thompson, Joe Mantiply, Andrew Saalfrank, Kevin Ginkel, Luis Frias and others, who would have thought they would become the underrated difference makers for the ballclub down the stretch?
The Diamondbacks' relievers combined to shut out the Phillies over nine innings in the final two games of the NLCS to prevent any chance of a comeback. If the Phillies couldn’t capitalize against the unknown Diamondbacks’ bullpen after forcing their dominant starters out of the game, it's sad to say, but they probably didn't deserve to win in the end.