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Phillies Set Roster: Stassi, Nava Win Spots; Goeddel Designated

Brock Stassi will make his Major League debut in 2017 (Frank Klose/Sports Talk Philly)

The Phillies roster is finally set, as the Phillies prepare to leave Clearwater and head north for Summer.  As of earlier Thursday morning, we knew just two roster spots remained: two bench spots.  Despite a strong showing from infielder Jesmuel Valentin, the final two spots will go to Brock Stassi and Daniel Nava,  CSN Philly reports.

Ben Harris of reported that Stassi learned of the news when Phillies manager Pete Mackanin asked him what uniform number he wanted to wear.   Ryan Lawrence of Philly Voice reported that Stassi emerged from the meeting to applause and hugs from his teammates.  Stassi led Phillies hitters with six home runs this Spring, batting .339.

The veteran Nava likely will be a regular pinch-hitter for the Phillies.  Batting .386 in Grapefruit League action, Mackanin regularly praised Nava's professional at bats.  Nava hits from both sides of the plate and can help the Phillies in the corner outfield spots and at first base in a pinch.

Outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who spent all of 2016 on the Major League roster, was designated for assignment to make room for the final player.  The Phillies may be trying to slip Goeddel through waivers while every team sets their final roster, but he very well could be claimed.

Here is the Final Phillies 25-man Roster:

Starting Pitchers:
Jeremy Hellickson
Clay Buchholz
Jerad Eickhoff
Aaron Nola
Vince Velasquez

Jeanmar Gomez (CL)
Hector Neris
Joaquin Benoit
Pat Neshek
Edubray Ramos
Adam Morgan
Joely Rodriguez

Tommy Joseph
Cesar Hernandez
Freddy Galvis
Maikel Franco
Andres Blanco
Brock Stassi

Michael Saunders
Odubel Herrera
Howie Kendrick
Aaron Altherr
Daniel Nava

Cameron Rupp
Andrew Knapp

Flyers-Islanders: Game 77 Preview

IMG_1549(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Rob Riches, Sports Talk Philly contributor 

With just a handful of games remaining in the Flyers season, they have a chance to do something that they haven't done since before the All-Star Break -- win three games in a row.

They close out their season series with the New York Islanders, who remain ensconced in the race for the last wild card spot. It hasn't been an easy stretch for the Isles, though, as they've lost four of their last six games -- yet still remain four points out, as opposed to the Flyers' six.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Continue reading "Flyers-Islanders: Game 77 Preview" »

Phillies officially name Jeanmar Gomez closer

Jeanmar gomez philadelphia phillies spring
Jeanmar Gomez will be the Philadelphia Phillies closer for the second straight season. (Frank Klose/STP)

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

After the club seemingly finalized the members of their bullpen by sending RHP Luis Garcia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley this morning, manager Pete Mackanin finalized some of the bullpen's structure, by naming Jeanmar Gomez the team's closer to open the season. 

It comes as little surprise that Gomez will be the team's closer to open the season because Mackanin suggested both this offseason and early in Spring Training that Gomez was the favorite to open the season as the closer. Mackanin didn't seem to create the illusion in camp that there was a serious battle to unseat Gomez, either. 

A year ago, Gomez seized the closer's job in April and pitched so well that he drew All-Star consideration. However, while he had a strong first half and ended up saving 37 games, he posted a 19.13 ERA in September, including blowing two of his last three saves attempts, and ultimately lost the closer's job in the final weeks of the season. 

Related: How will Pete Mackanin manage the Phillies bullpen?

There does seem to be a level of fairness in Gomez getting a chance to open the season as closer, although it's fair to wonder how long he will retain that role. New Phillie Joaquin Benoit has closing experience, and younger arms like Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos seem to have stuff that would make them more geared to be closers than the 29-year-old Gomez. 

If Gomez has a strong first half like he did last season, he'll likely keep the job as long as he remains with the team. That may not be long, though, as he can be a free-agent after the 2017 season, so it's likely that the Phillies would look to trade him before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline if he was having another strong season. 

Howard impressed by Holmes' growth, passion


Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor  

The Philadelphia 76ers only dressed eight players in last night's 99-92 loss to the Hawks at home, but there were still some positives, most notably the performance of Richaun Holmes. At the beginning of the year, Holmes was the forgotten center, but with injuries and trades, he has been pushed into a starting role as of late and he's excelling in that role. On Wednesday night against Atlanta, Holmes put up a career-high 25 point to go along with eight rebounds and a blocked shot. His performance got some recognition from Hawks center Dwight Howard, who remembers Holmes the first time they played each other.

Continue reading "Howard impressed by Holmes' growth, passion" »

Phillies Finalize Bullpen With Rodriguez, Morgan

Adam Morgan will open the season in the Phillies bullpen (Brandon Apter/Sports Talk Philly)

The Phillies got much closer to finalizing their Opening Day roster Thursday morning.  The Phillies formally optioned right-handed reliever Luis Garcia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  The move means that the Phillies bullpen is now finalized and barring any unforeseen acquisitions, Joely Rodriguez and Adam Morgan will begin the season in the Phillies bullpen.

The right-handed relievers includes returning members Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, and Edubray Ramos and veteran acquisitions Pat Neshak and Joaquin Benoit.  

Garcia remains on the 40-man roster for now.  The Phillies could make an additional move with Garcia as they make final decisions for the bench.  Brock Stassi, Daniel Nava, and Jesmuel Valentin are the last remaining candidates for two open bench spots.  

To add Stassi or Nava, the Phillies will have to open a 40-man roster spot.

Garcia was 1-1 with a 5.91 earned run average in eight spring games.  Morgan had no decisions, but pitched to a 2.45 earned run average.  Rodriguez went 2-0 with a 3.00 earned run average in Grapefruit League play.

If Available at 14, Eagles Should Take Versatile Playmaker Jabrill Peppers

By Paul Macrie, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The NFL Draft is less than a month away, and there are many players the Eagles could target at 14th overall, or if they trade up or down, it could make things even more interesting.

The bottom line is the team is in desperate need of playmakers all over the field, regardless of position or side of the ball. This is a crucial draft for the organization seeking to build the team around its young quarterback Carson Wentz

Jabrill Peppers is one of the most intriguing prospects that has entered this year's draft. The do-it-all athlete was a star for three seasons at Michigan, where he played both sides of the football, and excelled on special teams too. Peppers earned snaps at 15 different positions on offense, defense and special teams during his collegiate career, and was a first team All-American and Heisman finalist in 2016. 

Continue reading "If Available at 14, Eagles Should Take Versatile Playmaker Jabrill Peppers" »

Sean Couturier Proving His Worth to Flyers


(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Ron Hextall took a flier on Sean Couturier when he signed him to a 6-year $26 million contract in the summer of 2015. At the time, Couturier had scored 45 goals and 73 assists for 118 points in 287 games. 

Knowing that Couturier had yet to emerge as an overly offensive-minded center and was better known as a defensive specialist brought this move into question, especially given the cap hit of $4.33 million per season on a team strapped by cap issues.

With this being the first season that this deal is on the books, it is appropriate to compare Couturier's production to those making similar money to him across the league. At first glance, Couturier would appear to be overpaid when compared to the players making money in the same range. But with a strong month of March coming to an end, Couturier is proving the offensive ability is there, even if it wasn't on display for much of the season.

Continue reading "Sean Couturier Proving His Worth to Flyers" »

4 Bargain Players Who Could Still Interest the Eagles

By Tucker Bagley, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

When Howie Roseman met with the media earlier this week, the Eagles' general manager said he was surprised by the amount of quality players still available on the free-agent market. 

Despite the Eagles lacking any sort of cap space right now, they could remain players in the free agent market, especially if those deals resemble what they gave Chris Long and Patrick Robinson a couple of days ago. Here's a few names they could go after if they remain unsigned over the next few weeks.

Continue reading "4 Bargain Players Who Could Still Interest the Eagles" »

Howard plays Superman as Hawks beat Sixers

By: Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly Staff

A career-high 25 points for Richaun Holmes was not enough as Dwight Howard's 22 points and 20 rebounds led the Hawks over a resilient Sixers team by a score of 99-92 on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers were without Tiago Splitter, Jahlil Okafor, Sergio Rodriguez, and Robert Covington on Wednesday night. With only eight players available, the Sixers had to exhaust their bench just one night after playing the Nets with only nine players.

Continue reading "Howard plays Superman as Hawks beat Sixers" »

The path to Vince Velasquez becoming a star

Vince velasquez phillies spring training

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez is entering his second full season in the majors. (Brandon Apter/STP)

By: Jason Ferrie, Sports Talk Philly Columnist 

Philadelphia Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez ended his spring on Monday with another stellar performance against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 24-year-old and his team will head north to start their 2017 campaign with high hopes as the Phillies look to push towards .500, two years after posting the worst record in the league. A big part of that hope relies on their starting rotation and Velasquez himself, who is coming off his first 20-start season in the majors. This spring the young right-hander finished with a 19.2 inning pitched, a 2.75 earned run average and 25 strikeouts. If the Phillies are going to improve in 2017, they will need Velasquez to sustain his spring performance while continuing to add onto his arsenal of pitches.

Continue reading "The path to Vince Velasquez becoming a star" »