Bullpen blows another one, but Wheeler looks strong in Phillies loss to Mets

Wheeler pitches well for Phillies in loss
Zack Wheeler pieced together a strong performance on Wednesday night, especially considering he's dealing with a nail issue on his right middle finger. Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn't hold things together as the Phillies dropped a pivotal contest to the Mets, 5-4, at Citizens Bank Park. 

 Wheeler scattered seven hits and allowed three runs. He struck out two over a season-high 7 1/3 innings. “You can’t imagine the pain that he was in,” manager Joe Girardi said. 

Wheeler left with one out in the eighth inning. Adam Morgan came in as relief and surrendered a run allowing the Mets to even the contest. Hector Neris did the same in the ninth, allowing the Mets to beat the Phils and even the three-game set. 

 The Phillies' bullpen ERA sits at 7.05, which is the highest in Major League Baseball. 

 “At this point, we can’t feel bad for ourselves,” said catcher Andrew Knapp, who finished 1-for-4 on the night. “We’ve got to go out and perform. The way this season has been, it’s kind of been like that the whole way. We’ve got to show up tonight, and if you don’t show up tonight, you’ve got to show up tomorrow. We’re not going to take these performances into the next day. You’ve got to flush it and make sure you’re ready to go tomorrow. I know we’re confident in what we have out there. We’re definitely still in this thing. If we worry about all the bad stuff that’s happening, we could screw this thing up and not be ready for the opportunity we have.” 

The bright spot on the night was that Wheeler appears to be able to remain in the rotation and help with the final push. He used a fake nail and a nail hardener to cover the damaged nail. It worked well he said for most pitches, except for his changeup. He threw a splitter as an alternative. 

 “I still throw the split in my bullpens, just so I can keep that in my back pocket,” Wheeler said. “This is why I do that, so I can always just have it. Just the pressure of the changeup bothered me a little too much, so I just moved onto the split and it was a really good pitch for me today. Command was there for the most part.” 

The Phillies have 12 games left in the regular season and are currently the No. 7 seed in the National League ahead of the No. 8 seed Giants, though both clubs have the same 24-24 record. The Cardinals, Brewers, and Rockies are all within two games of the final spot. 

 The Phillies and Mets resume their series on Thursday with Aaron Nola facing Seth Lugo.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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