Phillies DFA Walker, Activate Morgan, as Wheeler's Finger Aches

Ahead of Friday's double-header between the Phillies and the Miami Marlins, the Phillies made a number of moves.  While those moves were being made, the middle finger injury to starter Zack Wheeler caused great concern to the Phillies.  Here is a rundown of the day's news.

In Phillies manager Joe Girardi's pregame media availability he expressed concern for Wheeler's middle finger on his throwing hand.  Girardi indicated that beyond Friday's scratch, there was some doubt that Wheeler can make his start on Monday.  Wheeler is in danger of losing the nail on that finger.

Wheeler injured the finger on the zipper of a pair of pants.  This is not an injury that happens every day.  Unfortunately for the Phillies they are extra-pressed for starting depth to begin with, with four more doubleheaders in the remaining 17 days.  The Phillies needed a seventh starter beyond Vince Velasquez as it was, and now they are down another.

The Phillies designated for assignment the contract of utility player Neil Walker.  Walker was batting just .231 with an OPS of ..552.  Girardi noted before the game that the reason for Walker being cut was that they were hoping for some more positional versatility from a utility player.  The Phillies are currently with just one real option in center field.

Ronald Torreyes, who had been at the alternate training site in Allentown, will have his contract purchased.  Torreyes can play center field in a pinch.  With only Adam Haseley as a true center fielder, that gives the Phillies another option.   It's also a sign that neither Roman Quinn or Scott Kingery are not close to returning.

Lefty reliever Adam Morgan returned from the injured list.  The Phillies have only had Jojo Romero to be a late-inning left-handed relief option.  Jose Alvarez may not be ready to return during the regular season and Ranger Suarez, though left-handed, is trying to find his footing after missing time with a COVID.

Morgan replaces Connor Brogdon, who was optioned to the alternate training site.  Meanwhile Ramon Rosso is serving as the 29th player during the Friday doubleheader.

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Middle Finger Issues: Starter Zack Wheeler Will Miss Next Start

Once upon a time, former Phillie Adam Eaton injured himself and missed a start.  That was opening a pack of CDs he received in the mail.   These days, Columbia House is no more, but the Phillies apparently have suffered an injury along those lines.  This time, it's not a pack of CDs, but a zipper.

According to Phillies manager Joe Girardi, who spoke to the media after the Phillies lost to the Miami Marlins Thursday night, Zack Wheeler is going to miss a start:

Middle finger.  How appropriate.

The Phillies lost game one of the seven-game series to the Marlins after starter Jake Arrieta rebounded from a putrid first inning.  This time, Phillies reliever Tommy Hunter loaded the bases in the eighth inning.  But as quickly as Hunter loaded the bases, Brandon Workman cleared them to erase a 6-3 Phillies lead.

The Phillies would have had to use the bullpen for one game coming up.  If Wheeler was not bumped back three days to the 14th, that day would have been a bullpen game.   The Phillies could have pitched Spencer Howard and Aaron Nola Friday instead.    The Phillies bullpen probably could not handle an entire game, so a seven-inning game is probably best.  So maybe this actually oddly helps the Phillies.

So hopefully Nola pitches a full seven in one of the two games.  The other one? Anyone's guess. So while Wheeler's middle finger screws up Friday, at least he will be around on Monday to pitch for the Phillies.


How Phillies-Marlins Series Affects Rest of Season

By Greg Hall, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Phillies (21-18) are about to take part in their first seven game regular season series in the team's storied history... one would think.

It turns out that the Phils have played multiple seven gamers in 1930, going 4-8-2 against the Chicago Cubs & Boston Braves in 1930, most recently.

The team travels to south Florida for a series against the Miami Marlins (19-19) over five days that will feature two seven-inning doubleheaders and could propel one of the two teams to the fast track for a playoff spot.

Much about the starting pitching matchups is unknown beyond Thursday's battle between Jake Arrieta (3-4, 5.67 ERA) and RHP Sandy Alcantara (2-1, 3.78 ERA).

As of this writing, manager Joe Girardi has not announced any other starting pitchers, but it lines up that every pitcher in the rotation plus Vince Velasquez will take the hill... and that still will not be enough starters.

The teams will play doubleheaders on Friday and Sunday and with Velasquez last pitching in a loss to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, he will conceivably start one of the two Sunday games. That leaves the Phillies without a starter for the back end of Friday's twin bill and Monday's series finale.

Who are the Phillies best options to fill those spots from the 40-man roster?

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2020 Phillies, NL East: Current National Predictions

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

After the Philadelphia Phillies had dominated at a 90.9 percent clip, they came back to earth because winning 10 of every 11 games isn’t sustainable by any team. And the players don’t expect everything to go their way indefinitely. Unfortunately, some locals believe hot or cold streaks never end, but they always do.   

 

Forecasts Revised:

For Phillies fans, the ups and downs between now and Sept. 27 will be a daily occurrence. Seven contests, though, of the final 21 are with a club on the playoff periphery and one in the cellar: the New York Mets (three games) and the Washington Nationals (four), while the Miami Marlins have seven contests to prove they’re for real. 

IN OTHER WORDS:

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” - Benjamin Franklin

While many locals here are probably having some doubts after the 10-1 run ended, our northern neighbors in the Bronx are a perfect example of fandom’s equivalent of mood swings. Well, the New York Yankees opened the season with an 8-1 mark, and their supporters boasted their Bombers are basically unbeatable.               

World Series champs, no? But after they only had been triumphant in eight of their next 13 games at 16-5, they went 5-15 in their next 20, and their fans are beside themselves: They won’t make the playoffs, fire the general manager, and fire the skipper. For some reason, I remember similar sentiments elsewhere.             

My research includes keeping up with the other 29 organizations also, and ‘20 has multiple injuries every day and not just three or four. No, I’m not alone in noticing a year’s worth in a 60-game schedule not including the COVID-19 cases at the campaign’s beginning. This summer is unlike the usual 162.       

In fact, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has received criticism for giving guys too many days off, but he probably is being overly cautious to keep his team on the field. Realistically, the Bronx Bombers have been a MASH unit in 2019 and 2020. 

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Eflin Pitching Much Better Than Results Have Shown

By Greg Hall, Sports Talk Philly editor

Believe it or not, Zach Eflin is a good major league pitcher.

In fact, he is currently having the best season of his major league career, even if the numbers don't immediately show it.

Currently sporting a 4.58 ERA through seven starts after his no-decision Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox, Eflin has given up 41 hits in 37 1/3 innings.

That is far from the whole story.

His 3.75 FIP is almost a full run lower than his ERA and career FIP (4.73), suggesting the defense behind him has been subpar and he's even gotten a little unlucky. That is backed up by the .358 batting average on balls in play against Eflin.

Baseball Savant shows Eflin's expected ERA to be 3.30, which would put him in the top 10 percent in all of baseball.

Against teams at or above .500 this season, Eflin is 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA across 16 1/3 innings. He also struck out 19 hitters.

Strikeouts have been a big part of Eflin's game in 2020, much more than his career marks suggest.

He is currently striking out 11.6 hitters per nine innings, by far a career high (7.2 average), while walking batters at an all-time low mark of 2.2 per nine. That is good for a 5.33 strikeout to walk ratio, more than double his normal rate.

The Phillies are 6-1 when Eflin has started a game this season.

So what is the issue?

Continue reading "Eflin Pitching Much Better Than Results Have Shown" »


Phillies Need to Improve Against RHP to be a Playoff Team

By Luke Stansfield, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

There are just 23 games remaining in the Phillies' shortened season. They find themselves two games back of the NL East behind the Braves, while holding on to the second wild card spot by a game over the Cardinals. The Phils final six opponents are the Boston Red Sox, Miami, New York Mets, Toronto, Washington, and Tampa Bay. There is one thing in common with all of these teams: their starting pitching is predominately right handed. 

The Phillies' bats have woken up and have proven to have one of the most dangerous top to bottom lineups in the MLB. However, when diving deeper into analytics, their hitting prowess is much more evident when facing LHP rather than RHP.

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Phillies Lose Two Outfielders in Saturday's Loss

Quinn

The Phillies second five-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday evening as the Phillies fell to the New York Mets.  The night never went well for the Phillies.  Bryce Harper was ejected from the game.  And the Phillies managed to lose two outfielders in one night.

Outfielder Jay Bruce, who has been battling a sore left quad, re-aggravated the injury in the field.  That will lead to a second injured list stint for Bruce.  The last one was quick, but the injury has still lingered.  It is unclear if this is more serious than last time.

Roman Quinn is no stranger to the injured list.  This time, Quinn will be undergoing concussion protocol.  The injury occurred when Quinn crashed into the wall making a play Saturday night.   Quinn must undergo a series of tests before being cleared.  If necessary, an injured list of seven days could be an option.

The Phillies have just one other position player on the 40-man roster to join the Phillies.  That would be outfielder Kyle Garlick.  Complicating matters is that only Adam Haseley is a center fielder out of all of the players on the roster.  Scott Kingery is currently on the injured list, so he cannot even immediately serve as a sub.

If the Phillies went deeper to add player, such as Mickey Moniak, who could play some center field, they would need to make room on the 40-man roster.  That means the organization would have to cut someone else.

That 40-man spot could be Victor Araño, who has yet to make a major league appearance.  Should the Phillies feel like he is unable to help the club in 2020 in the major leagues, they may risk putting him through waivers to keep him in the organization.

The Phillies could add an extra pitcher for a few days if they feel that Quinn will just need a seven-day injured list stint.  Meanwhile, Kingery could be activated before next weekend.  Should the Phillies be one offensive player short, they would have a bench the same size as the one they carried all of 2019.

But the Phillies will lose Bruce's power and Quinn's speed, at least for a while.


Phillies: 2020's NL East Rotation Surprises

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

In most seasons, the healthy team has an advantage over clubs with equal or slightly better personnel. And the Philadelphia Phillies are currently enjoying the good fortune of avoiding injuries to their five-man staff, while their three main competitors for the National League East pennant are not. Difference-maker, no?   

 

A One-of-a-kind Campaign:

On the surface, the Phillies faithful considered the Fighins’ rotation to be fourth out of five teams, but MLB injuries are an annual occurrence: 2019’s bullpen had withstood having eight relievers on the IL (injured list). And this summer has doubled MLB IL stints due to disrupted routines, plus COVID-19 is ever present.    

IN OTHER WORDS:

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” - Arthur Conan Doyle

Following the trading deadline, five-man staffs will only change due to injury, ineffectiveness, the coronavirus and in-house surprises. Therefore, the Fightins, the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Washington Nationals -- barring unplanned situations-- have their starters.         

Some locals express themselves with disappointment and/or anger because a certain organizational weakness still remains despite their belief of available talent a general manager should acquire. Unfortunately, the other club has a say: asking price and/or a willingness to move the star at all.   

Phillies atop the Rotation:

  • RH Aaron Nola, 27: 7 Gms., 44 Inn., 4-2, a 2.45 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and a 1.3 fWAR.
  • RH Zack Wheeler, 30: 7 Gms., 45 Inn., 4-0, a 2.20 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and a 1.3 fWAR.
  • Stats through Sept. 3.

For the Phillies, Nola and Wheeler are a solid one-two punch, and round one of the playoffs is a three-game series. Ergo, the third contest is necessary if the clubs split the first two games, and the options here are Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin (probably), Spencer Howard and Vince Velasquez.

Continue reading "Phillies: 2020's NL East Rotation Surprises" »


Spencer Howard Picks Up First Big League Win

By Greg Hall, Sports Talk Philly editor

It is the first of what will be many.

Having last pitched 11 days prior, Spencer Howard picked up his first major-league win Monday night against the Washington Nationals (...and their A+ social media team...) in an 8-6 Phillies victory.

The win got the team back to .500 and was their sixth win in seven games. It was also the halfway point of their season.

Manager Joe Girardi had a longer leash on Howard than in his previous outings, allowing him to finish the fifth inning for the first time in his short career, despite a loss in velocity, a two-run opposite field home run by Nationals slugger Juan Soto and a rapidly growing pitch count.

It spoke volumes that Girardi trusted his young right hander enough allow Howard to get the final two outs of the fifth and be in line for the win. Howard has undoubtedly cemented his spot in the team's rotation.

"I feel better about it now just because of what I saw tonight," Girardi said. "He used his whole repertoire. I hope today is a big step for him, that he realizes he can compete at this level and use all his pitches and have success."

Howard even got a fun surprise after the game.

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