MLB Wild Card: Noah Syndergaard strong again, Nick Castellanos stays hot as Phillies beat Reds

Syndergaard leads Phillies to another win as Castellanos and Bohm stay red-hot originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Noah Syndergaard is loving life as a Phillie and Nick Castellanos is loving facing his old club.

The Phillies' right fielder had another big night Monday against the Reds team that he spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons with, crushing a solo homer into the bushes in center field in his first at-bat and hitting an RBI double the next time he stepped to the plate.

About 30 seconds after Castellanos' solo shot in the second inning, Bryson Stott hit one into the second deck in right field. The Phillies never trailed in a 4-1 win over visiting Cincinnati.

Monday's series opener was the fourth start Syndergaard has made with the Phillies and they've won all four. After going seven innings against the Reds last week, he completed seven again on a night when the Phils needed length because they were without closer David Robertson, who threw 57 pitches the last two days.

"My time here so far has been amazing, I feel like I've been on cloud nine," Syndergaard said. "I've made huge adjustments on the mound and just the personalities in this clubhouse are awesome to be a part of."

After a rocky debut, Syndergaard has had a slew of quick innings in his last three starts. The Reds hadn't scored on him and managed just one hit before Austin Romine popped a solo home run with two outs in the fifth inning. He allowed just three hits on the evening.

Syndergaard has averaged 13.6 pitches per inning as a Phillie, well below the MLB average of 16.5. That adds up over the course of six or seven innings -- it's the difference between throwing 99 pitches over six innings vs. 82.

"It really helps everybody stay in rhythm, helps them stay engaged in the game," Castellanos said of Syndergaard's quick work. "A lot of times when innings drag on and you have those 25- or 30-minute innings, we can get on our heels and that's usually when mistakes happen."

It was another start against a weak offense -- Syndergaard has faced the Nationals, Marlins and Reds twice -- but his next several starts will follow that same trend. Syndergaard lines up to face the Pirates, Giants, Marlins and Marlins again over his next four starts.

The Phillies are 67-55 on the season and 21 games over .500 against teams other than the Mets. They moved into a tie with the idle Padres (68-56) for the second National League wild-card spot.

"I kind of knew what the moment called for as far as going as deep as I can and giving the bullpen some rest," Syndergaard said. "I didn't feel as good as I felt my last start against the Reds, I felt my stuff wasn't as good but I was able to execute. It makes it really easy to pitch when the offense is going out there and putting up runs."

This is an important week for the Phils to get back on track after dropping three of four to the Mets. They have six more home games left this week against the lowly Reds and Pirates. The only NL team with a worse record than those two clubs is the Nationals, who the Phillies also face seven more times.

The Phils don't see a team with a winning record until September 16 in Atlanta. Monday began a stretch of 22 consecutive games against sub-.500 teams.

Castellanos is one of several hot Phillies hitters. Over his last 25 games, he's hit .347 with six doubles, four homers and 12 RBI.

Alec Bohm, who singled three times, is another. He's hit .348 over 191 plate appearances since June 24, the night before Bryce Harper's thumb was broken in San Diego. Bohm is a major reason why the Phillies have gone 29-20 since Harper's injury.

"Baseball's all about who gets hot at the right time and the ingredients are definitely shaping up where it can work out that way," Castellanos said. "It feels good, especially down the stretch."

The reigning NL MVP is closing in on a return. Harper will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday night with Triple A Lehigh Valley and could be back in the Phillies' lineup as soon as next Monday in Arizona.

"Wow, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, getting one of the best baseball players out there back in our lineup," Syndergaard said. "This offense is going to be a lot of fun to watch."

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