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August 2020

Around the NHL: Lightning Reach Stanley Cup Final with OT Win

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Stanley Cup Final is set. Two teams remain in the Edmonton bubble with a chance to capture the Stanley Cup.

The Tampa Bay Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night with a 2-1 win in overtime over the New York Islanders in Game 6, claiming the series, 4-2.

More on the Lightning’s Game 6 win, a look at the Stanley Cup Final schedule and news of an interesting trade from this week in our look around the NHL.

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Flyers Re-Sign Nicolas Aube-Kubel to 2-Year Deal

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers offseason is underway and GM Chuck Fletcher wasted little time bringing back one of the team’s rising depth players.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel has re-signed with the Flyers on a two-year deal worth $1.075 million annually, the team announced on Thursday.

 

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Ben Simmons Receives All-NBA Honors

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The accolades continue to rack up for Ben Simmons. After being named to an All-Defensive team a few weeks ago the two-time All-Star has received more league-wide recognition.

Earlier today the NBA announced its All-NBA team. Simmons found himself on the All-NBA third team with Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum, Rudy Gobert, and Russell Westbrook. He received nine second-team votes and 34 third-team votes.

In just his third season Simmons averaged 16.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 8.0 APG, and a league-leading 2.1 SPG. Simmons also had the fifth most triple-doubles this season with six. He continues to show he is one of the league's brightest young talents, and it looks like the league is finally giving him his due.

At just 24 years of age Simmons has built up quite the resume. He is won Rookie of the Year, is a multi-time All-Star, received All-Defensive honors, and now All-NBA recognition. It's no secret that the future is bright for Ben Simmons.

Joel Embiid received some recognition, but not enough to find himself on an All-NBA team. The All-Star big man got three first-team votes, 14 second-team votes, and 22 third-team votes. As arguably the best center in the league, there is a real case that Embiid was snubbed.

This nod was well deserved for Simmons. There are very few players who impact a game on a nightly basis the way he does. From his defense to his playmaking, Simmons is a special talent. This will likely be the first of many All-NBA selections as Simmons gets ready to enter the prime of his career.

Sixerdelphia


Is Mickey Moniak a Mid-September Call-Up?

Moniak

The Phillies have been hobbled by a number of injuries.  Most recently, starter Jake Arrieta hit the 10-day injured list.  But in the outfield the Phillies lost Jay Bruce and only recently got Roman Quinn back, and then losing Kyle Garlick to an oblique injury on Tuesday night.  So could Mickey Moniak be the next man up?

Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Moniak is joining the Phillies:

What makes this interesting is that Bruce could be nearing a return.

According to Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic, a roster move will not happen today:

So what might the other roster move be if Bruce and Moniak both head to Philadelphia? Could Arrieta hit the injured list and the Phillies carry an extra position player for a few days before they need someone to make the start?  Is J.T. Realmuto hitting the injured list after all?   There will probably be another shoe to drop if both Bruce and Moniak appears.

The Phillies have Adam Haseley and Scott Kingery as reserve outfielders at the moment.  Kingery likely will be playing infield much more without first baseman Rhys Hoskins, and Bruce could be spending his time at first base and not the outfield as well.

Should Bruce not be activated yet, Moniak-for-Garlick could be the transaction.  But perhaps both are headed to Philadelphia today to face Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets.

Moniak batted .256 with 11 home runs for Double-A Reading in 2019.  He was added to the alternate site at the end of August.


Potential Second Round Picks for the Sixers

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

There is a lot of speculation that the Sixers will package their first-round pick in this year’s draft in a trade. With that being said, the team cannot afford to waste their second-round picks. 

The Sixers will pick four times in the second round, giving them a chance to take a flier on a couple of interesting prospects. Here are three names the team should keep an eye on.

Immanuel Quickley 

It might sound like a broken record at this point, but the Sixers need to address their lack of shooting. Since JJ Redick’s departure, the team has missed a go-to knockdown shooter on the outside. This is a role that Immanuel Quickley could fill if drafted to the Sixers. 

Quickley is coming off a sophomore season at Kentucky where he averaged 16.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 1.9 APG. He also shot a stellar 42.8% from three on close to five attempts a game and shot 92.3% from the foul line. 

Elton Brand said that moving forward he plans to complement Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid better, and this is the exact kind of player that does. Quickley is a guy that could come in and be used the same way Redick was used. 

Whether it is catching and shooting on the perimeter or in the dribble handoff game with Embiid, Quickley is a great complement to the Sixers’ All-Stars. He would be a great choice with one of the early picks in the second round for the Sixers.  

Grant Riller 

Riller is a name that continues to rise and fall on draft boards. Some early mock drafts had the Sixers drafting him at pick 21, and recent ones have him available in the second round. 

Part of that has to do with the “four-year guy” tag he has on him that teams like to stay away from. But this could be a benefit for the Sixers as they need mature prospects as they look to compete. Drafting upperclassmen has paid off in the past for the Sixers with guys like Landry Shamet and Matisse Thybulle. 

In his senior season at College of Charleston Riller averaged 21.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 3.9 APG. He was also effective from deep, shooting 36.2% on four attempts a game. Finding a suitable backup point guard has been a struggle in the past for the Sixers, but they might find one in Riller. 

Along with being a guard who could facilitate a second unit, he could also share the floor with the Sixers’ stars. Riller’s ability to operate in the pick-and-roll could make him a good secondary ball-handler with Ben Simmons running the show. His offensive game is also strong enough where he could go off the ball and knock down shots off screens or handoffs. 

Jordan Nwora

Nwora is another upperclassman the Sixers should have their eyes on. He has a skill set that could transition to a very solid three-and-D player. Plus, at six foot seven and 225 lbs, he already has a frame ready to compete against NBA athletes. 

This past season at Louisville Nwora averaged 18.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, and knocked down 40.2% of his shots from deep. He is at his best when catching and shooting, knocking down 66.5% of his attempts off the catch. 

His skill set and athleticism are exactly what the Sixers need off the bench. Adding guys who can knock down shots and defend on the perimeter is going to be a must for the Sixers. Nwora could be a guy that could come in and give you a lot of what Glenn Robinson III gave on both ends. He is worth taking a chance on with one of the four picks in the second round. 

All three of these players bring a role or skill set that the Sixers need to fill. It will be fascinating to see what road the organization decides to take on draft night. 

Sixerdelphia


Phillies Sign Two Veterans to Minor League Deals

By Greg Hall, Sports Talk Philly Editor

According to multiple sources, the Phillies have signed first baseman Greg Bird, 27, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, 34, to minor league contracts. Both players will be added to the 60-man player pool and assigned the alternative training site in Lehigh Valley.

The signings come just moments before postseason eligibility ended, meaning both players would be available for the playoffs, should the team make it. The Phillies currently occupy the seventh seed, one spot above Gabe Kapler's San Francisco Giants with 13 games to play.

Injuries to incumbents Rhys Hoskins (10-day IL) and J.T. Realmuto (day-to-day) have the Phillies finding themselves needing additional depth for a postseason run. Lucroy, formerly one of the game's best catchers, was released by the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday after just one plate appearance with the club.

Bird is an intriguing, but injury-prone former top prospect from the New York Yankees pipeline. He played for Phillies manager Joe Girardi from 2015-2019 and was most recently designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers in August. While he has not hit over .199 since 2015, Bird does have 32 home runs and 98 RBI for his career.

Philliedelphia


Phillies Roundtable

It’s been a rollercoaster of a season for the Phillies so far but they currently find themselves in a playoff spot with just a few weeks remaining in the regular season. As they head into a very important stretch, the Sports Talk Philly team and I take moment to assess how this season has gone as well as where it is headed. Below is a

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Phillies: Bullpen’s Plan B for 2020

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

As the Philadelphia Phillies games on the schedule dwindle, the calendar says September; and I’m not writing about free agents for 2021, the franchise’s future stars, and the organization’s finances regarding the competitive-balance threshold for next year. Instead, my articles will involve strengths, weaknesses, and possible fixes.

 

On Girardi’s Radar:

Even though the pen has been the Achilles' heel of the Phillies, one pitcher stands out as a potential answer. And, recently, Joe Girardi took his first step in that direction on Sept. 10 when he signaled in the sixth inning for the reliever to face an opposite-side bat (not a pinch hitter). But will this hurler earn high-leverage roles?                

IN OTHER WORDS:

The most successful people are those who are good at plan B.” - James A. Yorke

For relievers, ERAs can be deceptive because a moundsman can have nine solid outings out of ten with one clunker for a 5.00 ERA. But if he’s successful in 8 out of 10 chances, he’s at 80 percent, and his effective rate meets management’s expectations with 75 percent acceptable for a season.  

Girardi has vocalized and demonstrated his survival plans for the bullpen, and it includes his roles from the sixth frame through the ninth with a potential closer and maybe two October relief additions. Unfortunately, many fans block out the skipper’s words with their “dominant” views. Fandom managers, no?                 

Hector Neris has the most important job in Giradi’s relief corps because he enters the game in the last three frames depending on which inning has the toughest outs. So, notice who hits in the seventh, eighth, or ninth frames; and you’ll know exactly when the split-finger pitcher will get the call.      

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Eagles Shift Roster Spots With More IR Placements

Embed from Getty Images

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

In the wake of yet another wave of seemingly unending injuries, the Eagles had to make some moves.

With captain Craig James and key veteran Vinny Curry suffereing "significant" injuries, it would have been no surprise to see them both wind up in IR.

The 2020 rules allow unlimited returns from IR after just three missed weeks, so even less significant injuries might see the placement.

On Tuesday, the Eagles made those moves officially by placing the pair on injured reserve.

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Phillies Mailbag: Playoffs, Pitching, Bullpen Woes

Realmuto

It's time once again for the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  Each week we take your questions and then answer them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill, Tuesdays on 97.3 FM in South Jersey.  Send your questions at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter.

How do the Phillies playoff chances look now?
~Ryan

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