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Phillies Set Rotation for Friday Return

By Greg Hall, Sports Talk Philly editor

UPDATE: Friday's game against the Blue Jays has been shifted to a double-header on Saturday. Original story below


As if it weren’t wacky enough that the Phillies were going to be the road team at Citizens Bank Park when the Toronto Blue Jays come to town this weekend (not the first time that has happened, by the way), it will also be the first game the Phils will take part in since their 11-6 loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday.

After the Phillies four game set with the New York Yankees was postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak amongst the Marlins, who are still quarantining in Philadelphia as of this writing, a lot of questions arose as to how manager Joe Girardi would handle his pitching staff going into the weekend’s games against Toronto. Those questions have now been answered, and then some.

Girardi will move the season debuts of Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin back to allow Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler to pitch closer to their regularly scheduled days. There was also an announcement about the first two games of the Marlins series set for Aug 4-6, if they were to take place.

The rotation, for now, will proceed as follows:

Continue reading "Phillies Set Rotation for Friday Return" »

Win is Great for Flyers, But It was Just Nice to Play

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

As the NHL has worked toward a return, the plan allowed for one exhibition game that ultimately meant nothing to the team’s results. And while the result of Tuesday’s exhibition game didn’t matter, the win for the Flyers was icing on the cake.

Beyond the Flyers 3-2 victory in the exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday afternoon, it was just nice to have hockey back. For the players, it was just nice to get into a competitive game.

Continue reading "Win is Great for Flyers, But It was Just Nice to Play" »

Laughton Scores OT Winner as Flyers Down Penguins

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

After waiting 139 days for hockey to return, what was a little extra hockey. A late Pittsburgh goal forced overtime and brought on some 3-on-3 work. 

While the Penguins largely controlled most of the third period and overtime, the Flyers came away with the win as Scott Laughton scored on a breakaway at 2:40 of overtime to give the Flyers the 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in an exhibition game on Tuesday afternoon.

Continue reading "Laughton Scores OT Winner as Flyers Down Penguins" »

Eagles Place Alshon Jeffery on PUP List

By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

The Philadelphia Eagles announced this afternoon that they would place veteran wide receiver Alshon Jeffery on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List.

This move means that Jeffery will not be able to participate in any training camp practices until he is removed from the PUP list. He can be taken off of the list any time before the regular season begins. However, if he remains on the PUP list when the regular season begins, Jeffery must miss the first six weeks of the regular season.

If he were to remain on the PUP list when the regular season begins, the Eagles will have a five-week window to allow Jeffery to begin practice. Once Jeffery begins practicing, the Eagles will have an additional 21-day window where they must decide whether to add him to the active roster.

If Jeffery is not added to the active roster or does not begin practicing within the first six weeks of the season, he will remain on the PUP list for the remainder of the season, rendering him out for the 2020 season.

It is unlikely that Jeffery will miss the entirety of the regular season. I do, however, expect him to begin the regular season on the PUP list.

Jeffery suffered a Lisfranc foot injury in late November. The timetable for recovery for this injury is typically at least nine months. Jeffery appears to be ahead of that time distinction, as head coach Doug Pederson said of Jeffery, “I'm excited with where he’s at.”

After the struggles with wide receiver depth last season down the stretch for the Birds, it is imperative that Jeffery returns when he is fully healthy and stays healthy the rest of the season. With newly acquired receiver Marquise Goodwin announcing he will opt out of the season due to concerns over COVID-19, the Eagles will be starting thin at wide receiver once again.

Jeffery was the subject of trade rumors over the offseason after reportedly causing issues in the locker room coupled with a down season on the field. Jeffery finished 2019 with just 43 receptions, 490 yards receiving and four touchdowns during an inconsistent, frustrating, injury-riddled season.

Phillies and Yankees Will Not Play in New York; Quarantine Possible

By Matt Boulton - originally posted to Flickr as Yankee Stadium, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

The news gets worse for the Phillies playing their 2020 season.  After already postponing two games against the New York Yankees, the Phillies will miss even more.  According to a report, the Phillies will not be playing in New York, either.

Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer has the bad news:

But the news could be worse:

The Toronto Blue Jays are gearing up to play their home games in Buffalo, New York.  However, the stadium is not yet ready for Major League Baseball.  So, the Phillies will be the road team, even with the Blue Jays coming to Philadelphia, should the Phillies be ready to play.

The Marlins, with as many as 18 affected, will take a break:

There have been no reports of Phillies players testing positive for COVID-19, but a visiting clubhouse Phillies employee was affected, according to multiple reports.

Phillies Mailbag: Bullpen, the Trade Deadline and Contracts

We are back with another Phillies mailbag.  Send your questions at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter.  Listen to the segment on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill each and every Tuesday.

Who can the Phillies count on in their bullpen? If the starter only goes 5, who will Girardi lean on in the high-leverage spots in the middle innings?

The thin Phillies bullpen was certainly exposed this weekend.  With few options, Phillies manager Joe Girardi opted to allow Ramon Rosso to make his Major League debut in a very winnable game for the Phillies.  It did not go well, and Rosso was stuck pitching to a minimum of three batters, per new rules.

I think that on days where the Phillies have a lead, they'll lean heavily on Hector Neris as closer, with Tommy Hunter from the right side and then Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan from the left side.  Beyond that is a little tricky right now.

With major league experience, the Phillies have Trevor KelleyReggie McClain and Deolis Guerra.  It's hard to figure out what they can count on from them at this point.  Austin Davis and Cole Irvin are there from the left side, but have not shown any real consistency in the major leagues.

Four will need to go as roster size is trimmed down in coming weeks and a fifth, should the Phillies add a certain starter.

It ultimately likely will be up to Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta to excel in bullpen roles once Spencer Howard is up and pitching for the Phillies.   Will they step up and do a good job?  That's anyone's guess.  If they work out as relievers, the Phillies will feel a lot better.

If the season progresses as it should, what kind of team are the Phillies at the trade deadline? Buyers, sellers, staying put? Or will it just be similar to past years where they just bring in a serviceable arm (i.e. Drew Smyly)? Improving the bullpen is a must to make a run.

Unfortunately, I am not sure there will be much going on at the trade deadline.  We are just about a month away from the trade deadline - August 31. I think two things will be in play: Teams will either be in the mix for one of the 16 playoff spots, or, they could be hurting for players and need to field a team.

The playoffs have expanded now to 16 teams - eight in each league.  That means that teams that would otherwise be eliminated would still be in the playoff chase, and that means they would be unlikely to trade valuable pieces.  Looking at last season's final standings, you'll see why.

The Texas Rangers would have been the eighth playoff team had the format of the 2020 playoffs been applied.  The Rangers were 78-84, six games below the .500 mark.  With a month to go in the season - just past the haflway point - would teams be able to feel "out of it?"

Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins will struggle to field a team.  Will there be many "extra" players around to trade?  That could depend on how well COVID-19 is contained in MLB.

There has been no update on Ranger Suarez, but I am thinking the Phillies would really like to have him back in their bullpen right about now.  We will see how things go with him. I hope that he is doing well.

How much could a lost season or even just a 60-game season hurt the Phillies' chances of re-signing J.T. Realmuto and bringing back Didi Gregorius?

We have spoken much about J.T. Realmuto being an extension candidate, but almost immediately the "sign Didi" movement has begun.  Didi Gregorius told a handful of media gathered after his welcoming press conference in December that he was not offered a multi-year deal in the offseason by any team.  But what Phillies fans have seen from Gregorius so far is certainly encouraging.

I think that the Phillies and Gregorius will let this season play out.  The one difference is that the season will not really give an extended picture of not just Gregorius, but also Alec Bohm.  Bohm factors into this discussion, because should he emerge at third base, then Jean Segura could move back to shortstop.

So for Gregorius, I think there is more to see before a final determination whether or not to pursue him and that probably takes all 60 games.

As for Realmuto - I think his agent is set on maximizing every dollar he will make.  Therefore, I think he will wait until the Phillies offer a top-dollar deal, or take it to free agency.  I think the Phillies could get something done with Realmuto, but if they do so the deal will be pretty risky, given the uncertain economic climate.  But unlike Gregorius, I think they know just who Realmuto is and it's a simple matter of dollar and cents.

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Marquise Goodwin Plans To Opt Out Of 2020 Season

Embed from Getty Images

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The focus on COVID-19 in Philadelphia sports has been with the Phillies in recent days as they took on a team that is experiencing a full-on outbreak during their opening weekend.

In the Novacare Complex, the Eagles suffered their first blow from the pandemic as the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that receiver Marquise Goodwin will opt out of the 2020 season.

Continue reading "Marquise Goodwin Plans To Opt Out Of 2020 Season" »

Phase 3 Exhibition Game Preview: Flyers-Penguins


(Photo: Brian Born/Philadelphia Flyers)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

After nearly five months of careful planning to make a return, hockey is finally back. There is a game on Tuesday, and even though it is only an exhibition, it will be great to have a live game back.

For the Flyers, this is not necessarily their only tune-up. The Round Robin will allow for them to get even more experience and work out some of the rust and flaws in their game leading up to the first round. This is, however, the only exhibition game that holds no meaning other than to just get back into the rhythm of a game.

And what a game this could be. The Flyers get a rivalry matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins, quite the way to make their return to the ice.

Game time is 4 p.m.

Continue reading "Phase 3 Exhibition Game Preview: Flyers-Penguins" »

Phillies and Yankees Will Not Play Tuesday, Either

The news has gotten substantially worse for the Miami Marlins.  After learning that 14 members of their playing and coaching staff had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday morning, four additional players have tested positive as of Tuesday morning.  As the Marlins and Orioles series is not going to happen in Miami, the Phillies are also postponing their games.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Phillies - Yankees game scheduled for Tuesday night has been postponed as well.

The good news, Karl Ravich of ESPN reports, is that it is not due to any positive tests from Phillies players:

Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia notes that the Phillies will use today to head to New York so that the two clubs may play Wednesday and Thursday.

But the Marlins face serious challenges to continue their season.  Reports on Monday night had the club looking to add additional players who can play at the MLB level.  That will be a challenge since the other 92 teams are holding on to options should they have issues themselves.

Miami had been called the "epicenter of the pandemic" by some published reports in recent weeks.

Cancelled Preseason Games Lead To Early Roster Cuts

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Almost one month ago, the NFL cut their preseason in half, making it incredibly difficult for incoming fringe players and draft picks to get a chance to prove themselves.

Earlier this week, the NFL agreed with the NFLPA to completely eliminate all four preseason games and that makes it all but impossible to see what those players have.

That fact has lead to the early release of some players hoping to prove themselves in these games.

The first to go was former Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, who was hoping to make the team as a receiver.

Continue reading "Cancelled Preseason Games Lead To Early Roster Cuts" »