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June 2019

Phillies Tab Arrieta in Battle Between National League's Top 2 Teams

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

In a battle between the National League's top two teams, the Philadelphia Phillies (33-23) and RHP Jake Arrieta will oppose the Los Angeles Dodgers (38-19) and RHP Kenta Maeda in the three-game series opener and six-game road trip opener Friday evening at Dodger Stadium.

Prior to the game, the Phillies placed RHP Zach Eflin on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to May 28, with mid-back tightness. Southpaw Cole Irvin was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley as the corresponding move.

Starting Pitching Matchup:

Philadelphia Phillies (33-23) Los Angeles Dodgers (38-19)
RHP Jake Arrieta RHP Kenta Maeda
(5-4, 3.60 ERA) (6-2, 3.67 ERA)

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Phillies Lose Eflin to IL; Irvin Returns


The Phillies pulled starter Cole Irvin from his Triple-A starter after just three innings on Wednesday.  The move suggested something was up, but there was no roster move on Wednesday.  Today that move became clear: starter Zach Eflin is headed to the 10-day Injured List.

The Phillies announced that Eflin was diagnosed with "mid-back tightness" as he was placed on the Injured List.  The move was backdated to May 28.  Eflin last pitched on May 26 and lasted just three and two-thirds innings, allowing three earned runs.  Eflin did not seem like the pitcher who had a very strong string of games that included two complete games.

As for Irvin, he allowed just one hit and no runs in three inning at Triple-A since being optioned back to Lehigh Valley.  Irvin was 2-1 with a 5.60 earned run average in three starts for the Phillies before returning to Triple-A.  Irvin will start tomorrow in Los Angeles over Vince Velasquez, who was relegated to the bullpen recently.

There is no timetable mentioned for Eflin to return, but he will be eligible to come back from the Injured List on June 7.   Irvin's start lines up with a day off on June 6, so conceivably Eflin could miss a single start if the issue is minor.  In the meantime, it's an opportunity for Irvin to show what he can do.

If the Phillies look to make a trade, the Blue Jays reportedly could be aggressive in dealing pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, according to Jayson Stark of the Athletic.  Dallas Keuchel remains a free agent and may be more attractive after this upcoming week's draft as the club signing Keuchel will not have to surrender a draft pick.

Fletcher on Flyers Offseason: ‘We’re Going To Be Very Aggressive’

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

When Chuck Fletcher assumed the role of GM of the Flyers on Dec. 3, he said that there weren’t many situations like the one the Flyers were in where a GM had tools to work with. The Flyers have a wealth of prospects. They have some solid pieces already playing at the NHL level, many of them just starting their professional careers. And they have cap space, and lots of it.

That trio of factors makes the approach to the offseason an easy one for Fletcher and the Flyers. If there is a trade possibility or if there is a free agent on the market, the Flyers are going to be looking into it, taking the offseason head-on with aggression.

"I think we're going to be very aggressive in the trade and free agent markets in the sense of looking into every possible situation that can help us," Fletcher said in an interview with Adam Kimelman of "The unfortunate part is the vast majority of things you look into don't work out. So we're going to be very aggressive in trying to fill the holes we feel we have. I don't know if I can say we'll be able to fill all of them."

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Phillies Hot Stove: Club Scouts White Sox Closer RHP Alex Colomé

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

To no surprise, the Philadelphia Phillies — amid their many injuries to the bullpen, including David Robertson, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter — are doing their due diligence by exploring potential trade options around the league.

Earlier this week (May 27-29), Phillies scouts, along with those of the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, and two National League East rivals — the New York Mets and Washington Nationals — recently attended the Chicago White Sox' three-game home series against the Kansas City Royals to see closer Alex Colomé, according to 670 The Score.

The right-hander appeared in every game in the series and earned one win and two saves; in three innings, he allowed only a single, no runs and no walks, while striking out three of his 10 batters faced.

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Report: Phillies Open to Expand Netting Throughout Entire Lower Seating Bowl

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

From analytics, to ballpark upgrades and installing protective netting, the Philadelphia Phillies are among the MLB teams "ahead of the curve" regarding the respective concepts.

The last of the three, however, is the most important — and it is especially timely, considering the recent occurrence at the home of the Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park. On Wednesday, Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora hit a flaring line drive into the lower seating bowl, striking a 4-year-old girl. The girl was taken to the hospital following the game; her condition remains unavailable. 

The tragedy could have all been avoided had the Astros' safety netting been extended just past the edge of the dugout, where she and her father sat.

Had Almora hit the ball at Citizens Bank Park, the young fan would not have been struck, as the Phillies have already extended their netting past the dugout. Yet, the Phillies still appear to not be satisfied. According to's David Murphy, are "constantly evaluating their options for ensuring fan safety," and are not ruling out extending netting throughout the lower seating bowl "at some point in the near future."

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Former Phillies Pitcher: IronPigs' Grullon ‘So Much Better’ Than Knapp

(Steven Kiebach/

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia Phillies have the National League's second-best record for a reason — in part thanks to their high walk rate and surprisingly effective bullpen, albeit a slew of injuries.

While the club will remain active now until the July 31 trade deadline to try to bolster the club's roster for the second-half and subsequent postseason run, it does not need to look far if a desire arises to replace backup catcher, Andrew Knapp.

Knapp, 27, is in his third season with the Phillies; among the 60 MLB catchers with at least 50 plate appearances this season, the switch-hitter entered Thursday with a seventh-worst batting average (.163), albeit posting the second-best walk percentage (21.8) — trailing only the Arizona Diamondbacks' Alex Avila (26.4).

While Knapp may walk, he simply does not have the power that 23-year-old catching prospect Deivy Grullon is producing at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. On Thursday, former IronPigs and Phillies right-handed reliever Michael Schwimer took to Twitter to acknowledge that sentiment.

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Phillies' Harper Quietly Recovering from Cold Stretch

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper entered the 2019 season — his first of 13 in red pinstripes — with high expectations.

Harper answered, and arguably excelled, those expectations over his first 12 games, slashing .325/.491/.700 with three doubles, four home runs, nine RBI, 13 walks and 15 strikeouts over his first dozen games with the club. The Phillies won eight of the contests (.667).

Over Harper's next 29 games through May 14, however — in which the Phillies went 16-13 (.552) — the six-time All-Star slashed just .179/.320/.330 with seven doubles, three home runs, 16 RBI and 20 walks. He struck out (41) in nearly one-third of his 128 plate appearances. From May 4 to May 14 alone, Harper struck out in 18 of his 44 plate appearances — a 40.9 percent rate.

Since, Harper admirably put the "booing" aside, and quietly did what any Philadelphia fan would hope and expect — turn his slump around, and more.

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Tori and Nick Foles Suffer Miscarriage

Embed from Getty Images

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Very early on the in the free agent process of 2019, quarterback Nick Foles agreed to a new deal with the Jaguars that would pay him $88 million over the next four years.

This was on the heels of Jacksonville hiring his former quarterbacks coach from Philadelphia to be their new offensive coordinator.

It seemed like the perfect situation for Foles to go to, other than the Eagles, who could not pay him that type of money. The Jaguars simply needed to begin to build an offense that worked around Foles.

But with a new team comes a new playbook and new teammates to build chemistry with. It is especially important for the starting quarterback to be there to build this chemistry. That made it very odd that Nick Foles was not at the first couple of the Jaguars' OTAs.

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Around the NHL: Blues Take Game 2 in OT, Even Series

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Late in regulation, Carl Gunnarsson had a chance to put the Blues in front and break a 2-2 tie. He hit the post. In overtime, Gunnarsson got redemption.

Gunnarsson scored on a delayed penalty call at 3:51 of overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, sending the series back to St. Louis tied, 1-1.

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Phillies' Harper Records 200th Career Double in Rout of Cardinals

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Opposing St. Louis Cardinals (26-28) southpaw Genesis Cabrera in his MLB debut, the Philadelphia Phillies (33-22) offense came alive as the club produced a 11-4 rout Wednesday evening at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies now lead the NL East by 3 1/2 games, and are now 20-10 at home — matching their best 30-game start all-time at the venue (2011). The club has now won nine of their last 12 games and 20 of their last 31.

Andrew McCutchen (2), Bryce Harper (4), Cesar Hernandez (2) and Scott Kingery (2) each produced multiple RBI; Harper finished a triple shy of the cycle, including doubling for the 200th time of his career and slugging his 10th home run in a Phillies uniform.

The Phillies matched their season high by slugging four home runs, including three in the fifth; Kingery and Maikel Franco went yard back-to-back, setting up McCutchen's two-run blast to give the club a 10-run lead. It was the second time this season that the Phillies hit back-to-back blasts, and the first time in two seasons they hit three home runs in an inning.

Phillies right-handed ace Aaron Nola improved to 6-0; in seven innings, he allowed just one run (Matt Wieters solo home run) on four hits, three walks and eight strikeouts. Nola tossed 102 pitches, 68 strikes, and induced 14 swinging strikes. Phillies rookie RHP J.D. Hammer made his second career appearance in the ninth, another 1-2-3 outing to secure the win and his first career game finished. He struck out two batters.

The Phillies victory improved them to a season-high 11 games over .500, as well as bested their series record to 11-4-3; the club is also now 22-5 this season when they score first.

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