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Pitching Atop Phillies' Early Season Needs

By Brandon Musso, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

Is the starting rotation good enough to contend? Why didn’t the Philles add a starter in the offseason? Or why haven’t they signed Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel yet? These are just a few of the questions that are being asked about this 2019 Phillies team.

Given some of the performances we have seen from Phillies’ pitching thus far, they are completely fair questions to ask. However, only one question seems most important and that’s SHOULD they add more pitching?

Pitching has been a hot button issue for the 2019 Phillies. The new look offense has shown that it could be a force to be reckoned with. However, it takes more than just offense to be a serious contender. Good pitching is just as important but does this team have it?

As it stands, the Phillies front office has shown that they have confidence in the pitchers they have, particularly in the rotation. This year’s starting rotation was exactly how it was last year until Nick Pivetta was sent down to the minors to work on his stuff and Jared Eickoff took his spot in the rotation. Aside from that, it is not different. They didn’t sign even one starter as a free agent in the offseason. The time has come for them to sign Keuchel or trade for a starter.

Between Keuchel and Kimbrel, I think the Phillies would be better off going with Keuchel. Kimbrel has had a lock down career as a closer, there’s no denying it.  However, I am not sure he still has that dominant stuff he once had. Watching closely in the postseason last year, Kimbrel struggled. Although he managed to get out of most trouble, he was still making it interesting and allowing more base runners than we're accustomed to seeing from him. Aside from that, Keuchel is a two-fold beneficial signing for the Phillies.

If Keuchel were to join the rotation, someone in the current rotation will inevitably be bumped out. I, along with many, have long thought Vince Velasquez to be a really good fit as a bullpen pitcher. Although he has had a pretty decent year thus far as a starter, I think that he would be the first one to be bumped from the rotation to join the bullpen. Now the Phillies are not only getting reinforcements in the rotation but also helping to strengthen the bullpen, thus making it a two-fold beneficial signing. 

There will be stretches during the season where the pitching will look like it doesn’t need reinforcements. Recently, success from the starting staff, particularly Eickoff and Zach Eflin have helped build that facade. However, in the end, stretches of dominant pitching shouldn’t distract from the fact that the Phillies' pitching, as currently structured, can’t be trusted to hold up for the stretch run of a pennant race.

Whether the Phillies sign Keuchel now or they go after a pitcher at the trade deadline, the bottom line is this: if the front office is truly serious about contending this year, they need more starting pitching.

Eagles Claim Safety Godwin Igwebuike Off Waivers

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The San Francisco 49ers brought in eight new players through the NFL draft last weekend. They also waived seven players.

One of those players was Godwin Igwebuike. He will now find himself in an Eagles uniform for training camp.

Continue reading "Eagles Claim Safety Godwin Igwebuike Off Waivers" »

Phillies Open 2-Game Interleague Series Behind Velasquez

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Looking for their fourth straight win, the Philadelphia Phillies (16-12) and RHP Vince Velasquez will open a two-game interleague set opposite the Detroit Tigers (12-14) Tuesday evening at Citizens Bank Park. Tigers RHP Tyson Ross was slated to start the series opener, however Tuesday morning he was placed on the paternity list. Rookie RHP Spencer Turnbull will start in place of Ross, who can be away from the team for 1-to-3 days.

Pitching the Phillies' first complete game in a win since September 2016, right-hander Zach Eflin went the distance in the club's 5-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Sunday, securing their fifth series win of the season. On 107 pitches and 77 strikes, Eflin scattered seven hits while walking just one; the only run he allowed was a RBI single by Miguel Rojas in the top of the fourth. On offense, Bryce Harper (20), Jean Segura (11) and Rhys Hoskins (23) produced RBI; as a whole, however, Phillies batters went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left five on base.

The Phillies have won two of their three interleague games so far this season, capturing the series win over the Minnesota Twins, April 5-7, at home. After their brief, two-game home set against the Tigers, Tuesday and Wednesday, the Phillies' next American League opponent will be three series from now, May 10-12, away against the Kansas City Royals.

Starting Pitching Matchup:

Detroit Tigers (12-14) Philadelphia Phillies (16-12)
RHP Spencer Turnbull RHP Vince Velasquez
(1-2, 2.77 ERA) (1-0, 1.99 ERA)

Continue reading "Phillies Open 2-Game Interleague Series Behind Velasquez" »

Eagles Give Fan Season Tickets After Being Passed Up at NFL Draft

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft did not start at 8 p.m. Instead, there was lead-up, introductions and fanfare for a while. One of the activities that occurred prior to the start of the draft was a giveaway of 100 years of season tickets to one of three finalists.

On the stage, were a fan wearing a New York Giants tie, a fan wearing their Detroit Lions gear and a fan wearing an Eagles-themed suit.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stepped to the podium and announced that Gregory Hampton had one the award. Hampton was the Giants fan. Rather than give the gift of joy, the NFL game Hampton two season tickets for the next 100 years to see arguably the worst team in the league.

Perhaps the NFL and the Giants knew they would use the sixth overall pick on Daniel Jones and lose thousands of fans and used the giveaway as a way to attempt to keep attendance up.

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Phillies 2008 World Series Champion Chris Coste Earns 100th Coaching Victory

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

While 2008 World Series champion shortstop Jimmy Rollins will be honored this weekend with a special retirement ceremony at Citizens Bank Park, another fellow champion under manager Charlie Manuel is making strides in his coaching career.

Chris Coste, the "33-year-old rookie," earned on Monday his 100th career victory as head coach of his alma mater's baseball team, the Concordia College Cobbers in Moorhead, Minnesota. The Fargo, North Dakota, native has served in the role since the summer of 2014.

With the win, Coste, now 46, became the third coach in program history to earn 100 wins, joining team Hall of Fame coaches Bucky Burgau (711 games, 1979-2014) and Al Rice (100, 1969-78). Last August, in addition to his role with Concordia, Coste signed a playing contract with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association, pairing with his role with the team as hitting coach since the December prior.  

Coste previously geared up with the RedHawks 19 years ago — 23-26 years of age in 1996-1999 — before signing professional contracts with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1999 and the Cleveland Indians in 2000 to kick-start his major league journey. In addition, Coste was a three-time All-American while playing for the Cobbers from 1993-1995, and is a member of the Concordia Athletic and Fargo Legion hall of fames.

Coste was among the few members of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies who did not appear in the 10-year championship reunion during Alumni Weekend last summer, although he did leave a video message that was shown mid-ceremony.

The 2009 National League champion Phillies will likewise be honored this season; it has not yet been announced who will attend. In 256 games with the Phillies from 2006-2009, Coste slashed .282/.339/.440 with 42 doubles, 23 home runs and 98 RBI. Coste did not play all of 2009, his last MLB season, in red pinstripes, as that July he was selected off waivers by the Houston Astros.

Eagles Exercise Fifth-Year Option on Carson Wentz

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

This news may come as a shock to many, but the Eagles have officially exercised Carson Wentz's fifth-year option.

Wentz is entering the fourth year of his deal in 2019 and he is set to make around $4 million. His fifth-year option would pay him more than $20 million.

The move will keep Wentz under contract with the Birds until the 2021 season begins, but an extension is still a possibility now and if one does not occur in 2019, it is almost guaranteed to happen in the 2020 offseason.

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Grading the Eagles 2019 Rookie Class

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The takes on the Eagles draft are varied in 2019, and for good reason. The team drafted only one player on defense despite safety and linebacker being arguably their biggest need.

The team had only five picks in the draft this year and seemed to follow their board by taking the best available player for their top three picks. It is a philosophy that really can’t be argued with when a team is already built as solidly as the Eagles are.

Still, it is possible to critique the picks or have differing opinions on which players are better than others. With that in mind, Sports Talk Philly’s grades for the Eagles 2019 draft are included below.

A quick side-note that will not be accounted for in this grade, but could easily be so by others is the deal to acquire Hassan Ridgeway. It was not really a piece of the draft since he is entering his fourth year in the league, but it should at least be mentioned as he was essentially acquired for trading back a few picks in the fifth round during the draft.

Continue reading "Grading the Eagles 2019 Rookie Class" »

Mets Designate Former Phillies Prospect Traded for Halladay

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Long Beach, California, native catcher, Travis d'Arnaud, at one point appeared to be one of those rare prospects the Philadelphia Phillies would regret parting ways with.

Of course, it was well worth trading him to the Toronto Blue Jays almost 10 years ago in December 2009, along with Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor, in exchange for Roy Halladay and cash considerations. D'Arnaud, 30, would be dealt to the New York Mets three winter later, with Noah Syndergaard and two other players.

On Sunday, the seven-year veteran was designated for assignment by the Mets in favor of Tomas Nido being called up as the corresponding move; d'Arnaud had just two hits in 23 at-bats this season.

From his debut in August 2013 through the 2017 season, d'Arnaud slashed .245/.306/.406 with 65 doubles, 46 home runs, 159 RBI, 109 walks and 243 strikeouts spanning 393 games and 1,453 plate appearances. Behind the plate in 2014, he recorded the fifth most putouts as catcher in the National League (829), albeit allowing the most passed balls (12). D'Arnaud's .995 fielding percentage in 2017 was the second-best in the  National League.

If no one claims d'Arnaud, he will report to Triple-A Syracuse; he is owed a shy under $3 million in 2019. D'Arnaud played just four games last season due to needing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery.

Segura Returns as Phillies Look for Series Win Over Marlins

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Looking to secure the series win against RHP Pablo Lopez and the Miami Marlins (8-19), the Philadelphia Phillies (15-12) will celebrate the Phanatic's birthday by sending RHP Zach Eflin to the mound in Sunday's four-game series finale matinee at Citizens Bank Park. Lopez carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his last start, on the road against the Cleveland Indians; Eflin will make just his second home start of 2019. Longtime Phillies PA announcer Dan Baker will miss his second straight game due to feeling under the weather.

The Phillies topped the Mets, 12-9, Saturday evening, despite being outhit 17-13. First baseman Rhys Hoskins, catcher J.T. Realmuto, left fielder Nick Williams, and third baseman Maikel Franco each had two hits, with one of Hoskins' and Williams' hits being home runs. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen also homered, off Marlins starter Trevor Richards, who fell to 0-4 after allowing five runs, six hits and two walks through four innings. Phillies starter RHP Jake Arrieta improved to 4-2, despite allowing five runs in as many innings. Only one pitcher has more wins than Arrieta (and seven others) this season: Seattle Mariners southpaw Marco Gonzales (5). Right-hander Hector Neris notched his fourth save in the win.

Segura Returns Following Scary Hit-by-Pitch

Shortstop Jean Segura, activated from the 10-day injured list prior to Saturday's game (hamstring), saw minimal action in his first appearance since April 16. In the bottom of the second, Segura was removed after being hit in the helmet by a 90 mph Richards fastball. He remained on the ground for awhile, but was able to walk off. After the game, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Segura does not have concussion symptoms; he will start on Sunday, batting second.

Realmuto Rests

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto will not be in the starting lineup for just the fourth time this season, through 28 games, behind home plate. Andrew Knapp will make the start; he has four walks over his last six plate appearances.

Starting Pitching Matchup:

Miami Marlins (8-19) Philadelphia Phillies (15-12)
RHP Pablo Lopez RHP Zach Eflin
(2-3, 4.44 ERA) (2-3, 4.15 ERA)

Continue reading "Segura Returns as Phillies Look for Series Win Over Marlins" »

Eagles Add Undrafted Free Agents After Making Only Five Picks in 2019 Draft

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Eagles picked only five players in the 2019 NFL Draft, certainly not enough to fill out a roster properly. As such, the team will need to fill out their 90-man roster with some undrafted free agents.

Over the last two season, the Eagles have hit on some players, such as running backs Corey Clement and Josh Adams as well as cornerback Chandon Sullivan, punter Cameron Johnston and safety Tre Sullivan, who were brought in as undrafted free agents.

The Eagles will hope that they hit on a few more players in this round of free agent signings, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, where they took only one player in the entire draft.

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