Pitching woes bring an end to the 2018 season for the Philadelphia Phillies.

As any true baseball fan knows, the conclusion of summer brings something even more beautiful: playoff baseball. Whether it is a late division push at the end of the regular season, a pennant chase, or the Fall Classic, every pitch means something.

This sense of postseason adrenaline is something that the Philadelphian natives have not experienced since 2011, when their streak of five straight seasons winning the NL East came to a close the following year.

This young Phillies team had high hopes of returning to the top of the division, but the Atlanta Braves have stood in their way a majority of the second half of the year. As of August 23, the Phillies were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, as the Atlanta Braves clinched the NL East title.

Before falling out of contention, the Phillies went on a 10-16 stretch, not an ideal strategy for narrowing the gap. There were many faults to the team’s poor play, like their sloppy defense continuing to make errors, putting them at second-most in the MLB, the offense leaving too many runners on base, but above all else, the Phillies owe this collapse to their pitching rotation.

All season long, the Phillies rotation consisted of Aaron Nola and four other guys, which sounds crazy for a team who has the 2015 Cy Young winner and a man who has flirted with numerous no-hitters. But these two arms, Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez, have been the most problematic in the past month.

In Arrieta’s last six starts, he has posted a 6.49 ERA and a 1-1 record. Vince Velasquez has been even more disappointing, with a 6.75 ERA and a 1-2 record.

Don’t worry, Pivetta and Efflin have not been forgotten, because they have not been much better. Nick Pivetta has a 4.68 ERA, which is manageable, but he has not come up in the win column, with an 0-3 record. Zach Eflin has only been on the winning side of a pitching contest once with a 1-3 record, but his ERA is at 5.46.

Aaron Nola has continued to show the Phillies staff has spent most of the season on his back, as in his last month, he has a 2-2 record with an ERA of 3.29. For him, these numbers seem higher than he’s seen all year, as if it were not for an individual by the name of Jacob DeGrom, he would be a frontrunner for the Cy Young.

Although the starters have struggled, it is now the era of the bullpen, so what would be the problem with these starters leaving the game earlier and handing it to the pen?

Well, the bullpen has not been much better all year. First off, they really do not have a set closer. Seranthony Dominguez has the most saves on the year with 14, yet has been used earlier in games recently. Hector Neris has 11 on the year, yet also has not been consistently in the role. Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek both have proved they may not be the best for the role, either.

Their middle relievers have not fared well, with Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia, Austin Davis, and Yacksel Rios all posting ERAs above 3.88.

The only consistent arms have been Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos, both throwing over 50 innings and having ERAs under 2.50. But come this last stretch of the regular season, many would prefer to have trust in more than one starter and two bullpen pitchers.

Although the Phillies did have a fall the past month, their 2018 playoff dreams remained until the final few days of the regular season. Impressive for a team that very few outside of Philadelphia gave even a remote chance to.

However, don’t give up hope, Phillie faithful. The team has already been connected to All-Stars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper as potential free-agent signings this offseason, so remain hopeful. The excitement is just beginning in Philadelphia.

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