By Joseph Santoliquito


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On Tuesday, the Phillies marked the return to form of Aaron Nola. The 2018 Cy Young candidate was in classic “Nola” form, stopping the Atlanta Braves in the first game of a crucial series, 2-0.

Here’s the problem: What Phillies team will show up the rest of the way?

If it’s not the starting pitching that is imploding, it’s the bullpen. If it’s not the hitting letting this team down, it’s the starting pitching, base-running gaffes or fielding miscues.

It’s always something with the 2019 Phillies. That has them at 45-40, after one time going 33-22 on May 29 — 3.5 games up in first place in the National League East. Since then, they’ve gone 12-18, which includes a big 11-16 June swoon.

And that’s where the problem lies.

This is a team without an identity. They’re exciting because each night you don’t know what version will show up.

Girlfriend Drops Complaint Against Phillies’ Odubel Herrera, Judge Dismisses Case

With Nola showing signs of returning back to “Aaron Nola, No. 1,” maybe the Phillies can ride their horse to something more consistent.

“It feels like we have our ace back,” manager Gabe Kapler told the assembled media at the post-game press conference Tuesday night. “It feels like we have our horse back.”

The problem in June was pitching. The Phillies have given up a National League-high 142 home runs to opposing teams. The nearest NL team is Colorado, which has given up 125 homers.

The Phillies played 27 games in June. Phillies’ pitching gave up 54 homers. Do the math — that’s an average of two a game.

The Phillies’ team ERA was 4.15 after May. It’s now up to 4.56, thanks to a 5.63 ERA in June.

The Braves lead the Phillies by 4.5 in the NL East. Atlanta went 20-8 in June — averaging an amazing 6.7 runs per game.

Hopefully, Nola’s start on Tuesday night was the start of some good things for the Phillies. Hopefully, it will lead to a team that needs to, and better, create some sort of winning template before it gets too late.

Joseph Santoliquito