How Valuable can Matt Vierling Be?

One of the more surprising and roller coaster storylines has been the one for center fielder Matt Vierling. With the many other surprises from the team both positive and negative, he is more known for his commercial with CarShield rather than the value he brings as a ball player. 

While the commercial is hilarious, he's starting to show really good signs as the season progresses and is playing his way into a valuable role for a playoff contender. 

Vierling has played the exact number of games this year as he did last year, and there are some really interesting notes we can make about him. 

He got the chance to play at the back end of last season and took advantage of the opportunity, with a slash line of .324/.364/.479. He looked like a real baseball player that came out of their minor league system, a concept not many Phillies fans are used to. 

This season, however, proves that he still has work to do. Given the bulk of the playing time in center field, Vierling struggled offensively with a .472 OPS while mostly hitting at the bottom of the lineup. He was sent down to AAA and called back up once they needed spots. 

Once he came back up, he made significant strides by reversing his start to the season in more of a utility bench role. A .988 OPS and he's beginning to show off some power in big moments. He gave the Phillies the lead by taking Josh Hader of all pitchers deep against Milwaukee and did the same against Tanner Rainey in Washington. 

Vierling may have real sneaky power as he's shown a knack for hitting the ball as hard as he could with a 91.5 exit velocity, which doesn't make someone a good hitter but does show potential in other ways like power. 

While he only hit two home runs last year, he destroyed both baseballs taking a changeup off Will Crowe 419 feet and a fastball from Preston Guilmet 433 feet. He may need to work on displaying more power in the future but he does have the potential to be an ok home run hitter. Two of his three home runs this year were also well above 400 feet so if he learns to connect more consistently, he can unleash real power. 

It is clear Vierling has had a worse statistical season this year compared to last but are still some positive signs in other areas. His strikeout rate last year was 26% and this year it's only 20 and he's also raised his walk rate up slightly by just under two percent. 

What's been maybe his most valuable ability, however, is his versatility. After never playing a game at second base his entire baseball career, he suited up and made all the routine plays against Arizona. He got the chance to play third for a game as well and has played every outfield spot for at least one game this year.

The big question for Vierling may be how valuable can he possibly be to them? Is he just a solid role player or can he warrant everyday at-bats in the near future? It's been a tale of two different stints for Vierling and there's still not a great answer in sight but still a lot of positive momentum. 


Powder Blue Podcast: Phillies Keep Winning as Bullpen Leaks Oil

Logo Mosher Klose

Geoff Mosher and Frank Klose discuss the successful week Phillies against the Marlins and the Nationals, as the Phillies take 6 out of 8.  Among the topics of discussion this week:

  • How will the Phillies fare against the Rangers and Padres this week?
  • What to do about Corey Knebel and Jose Alvarado and the bullpen in general?
  • The worry around Zach Eflin's knee

All thsi and more.


Phillies: 2022’s Hidden Threat

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Some Philadelphia Phillies faithful believe the Fightins have no shot against their two divisional foes, and rival fans agree. Ergo, their franchise will succeed, while the red pinstripes will fail as usual. In fact, their supporters think there are only two clubs able to secure the National League East pennant.

 

Underestimated Challenger:

While the Phillies have a decent rotation and a potent offense even with a struggling power hitter, their relief corps has some solid pieces, and their defense is capable of making routine plays. Plus the front office has roughly $15 million available and can still be under the second tax threshold. A gambler’s chance, no?                             

Put Another Way:

“Think of success as a game of chance in which you have control over the odds. As you begin to master concepts in personal achievement, you are increasing your odds of achieving success.” - Robert Foster Bennett

In their minds, New York Mets supporters believe their team has a lock on the NL East, and they expect a coast-to-coast ride for ‘22. Unbelievably, most even dismiss the Atlanta Braves as a competitor, plus the red pinstripes aren’t worth mentioning. And since the below clip aired, Atlanta and Philly are both 15-3.   

The Link:

"THE NL EAST IS OVER" - @sal_licata on Baseball Night in New York

 

Continue reading "Phillies: 2022’s Hidden Threat" »


Trade Alert: James Norwood Traded to Boston for Cash Considerations

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Phillies made a trade! 

Don't get too excited, the Phillies announced that they traded recently demoted pitcher James Norwood to the Boston Red Sox for cash considerations.  No offense to Norwood--who is by all accounts a swell guy--but what's he worth, a few bucks and a six-pack of Sam Adams?  

Norwood appeared in 20-games for the Phillies this season and recorded a 8.31 ERA with 24 Ks, 9 BBs, and a 1.094 WHIP in 17.1 IP.  The numbers the 28-year old produced for the Phillies falls inline with his career numbers.  Boston is looking to add some stability to their 'pen in an attempt to make up a 14-game difference between them and the first place Yankees. Apparently, Norwood fits the bill for the Red Sox. 


Farm Report: Reading’s Logan O’Hoppe Added to MLB's Top 100 Prospects List

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The 2022 season is proving to be a breakout year for Reading Fightin’ Phils catcher Logan O’Hoppe and important people are taking notice. 

The #4 prospect in the Phillies system according to MLB, O’Hoppe is leading the R-Phils in batting average (.287), runs scored (41), home runs (14), and RBIs (38).  The 22-year old Long Island native was previously named the one of MLB’s Pipeline Prospects of the Week and now he can add a new award to the ledger, one of the top 100 prospects in baseball. 

 

Continue reading "Farm Report: Reading’s Logan O’Hoppe Added to MLB's Top 100 Prospects List" »


Down on the Farm: Checking in on the Philadelphia Phillies Top Prospects

Phillies Farm
By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

This week “Down on the Farm” I take a look at how the top ten prospects in the Phillies system are trending.  For reference, I used MLB’s Top 30 Phillies prospect list and MLB’s Top 100 in baseball list, respectively. 

The Phillies farm system is ranked 19th overall by MLB and 23rd overall by Baseball America.  

It’s easy to see why the farm system, and by extension the Phillies, are so mediocre.  There are plenty of good-to-great things going on in the farm system but there’s also a lot of “WTF” moments and players. 

Let's get it started with the number one prospect in the Phillies system. 

Andrew Painter | RHP | High-A Jersey Shore- The 19-year old was recently promoted from Low-A Clearwater to High-A Jersey Shore.  Painter made his first start last week against Hudson Valley and showed flashes as to why he’s the number one prospect in the system. 

Phillies Rank: 1 | MLB Rank: 70| Trending: Neutral 

 

 

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Phillies Option Moniak, Purchase Contract of Muñoz

Moniak

The Phillies were holding their breath recently, having lost three second basemen within a week's times: Jean Segura, Nick Maton, and Johan Camargo.  With all three on the shelf, the Phillies turned to Matt Vierling for a start at second base, a position that he has never played professionally.  To help balance the roster, the Phillies made a couple of roster moves on Tuesday.

Outfielder Mickey Moniak was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  Moniak opened some eyes in Grapefruit League action and earned himself a spot on the Opening Day roster, but fractured his hand before the team headed North.  But after being activated, Moniak has hit just .160 in 25 at bats.

The playing time in center field will likely return to the Opening Day plan: Odubel Herrera from the left side and Vierling from the right side.  Vierling now is no longer needed in the infield.

The Phillies filled that void by purchasing the contract of infielder Yairo Muñoz.  Muñoz might have been the one summoned last week when Scott Kingery had a quick visit to the majors.  But Muñoz missed a few games with a minor ailment and the Phillies made other plans instead.

Muñoz has been stellar at the plate, batting .319 with five home runs and 22 runs batted in.  In 2022 he has played second base, shortstop, third base, and left filed, also pitching an inning for the IronPigs.   

With a right-handed bat and glove, Muñoz has appeared in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox.  Since the Phillies are facing lefty Trevor Rogers on Tuesday night, Muñoz will get the start at second base.


Is it a Good Idea for the Phillies to Make Seranthony Dominguez the Closer?

640px-Seranthony_Dominguez_April_27 _2019_(47690916102)

Photo: Ian D'Andrea/Wikimedia Commons/Fair Use

While on the surface this question seems very silly to ask given how well Seranthony Domínguez has pitched this year but should he really be the closer?

It is safe to say Domínguez would probably do very well in the closer role, back in 2018 he recorded 16 saves and a 140 ERA+ in his first-ever season as a big leaguer. He never got the chance in 2019 with a down season and then injuring his UCL.

Now in 2022, Domínguez is back on the mound as a major leaguer and has been the clear-cut best reliever in their bullpen. With a 1.61 ERA, 11.7 strikeout rate, and throwing about 97 miles per hour, Domínguez shows no signs of slowing down either. 

With their current closer Corey Knebel, it's been a completely different story. While Knebel would say May wasn't a tough month, it's hard to imagine why he would think that. Knebel had a 5.40 ERA and a 5.54 FIP while also allowing a .911 OPS from opposing hitters. He blew multiple saves like against the Mets and Dodgers during that month and now has his role under massive scrutiny. 

He's followed that up with a shaky start to June, nearly blowing the game against the Angels and barely surviving against the Brewers. Just about every fan in Philadelphia right now would want a new closer and the best internal option is Domínguez. 

Continue reading "Is it a Good Idea for the Phillies to Make Seranthony Dominguez the Closer?" »


Phillies Designate Norwood, Add Kelly to Bullpen

The Phillies have not gotten much from their late-Spring acquisition of reliever James Norwood.   After 20 games, Norwood compiled an 8.31 ERA.  After Sunday's loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phillies made a change.

The Phillies announced that Norwood was designated for assignment.  Norwood is out of minor league options.  Should the Phillies choose to assign him to Triple-A outright, he has the choice to accept or become a free agent.

Replacing him on the roster is pitcher Michael Kelly.  Kelly has yet to appear in a major league game at 29 years of age.  At Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he is 0-1 with a 5.00 earned run average.

The Phillies also announced that catcher Rafael Marchan has been activated from the 60-day injured list.  The Phillies then optioned Marchan to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  The Phillies appear happy with backup catcher Garrett Stubbs; Marchan will get the bulk of playing time at Triple-A as prospect Logan O'Hoppe does the same at Double-A.

The Phillies 40-man roster is full at 40.