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?
Well, there are 14 games left. The Phillies are currently a .500 team. But so far to this point. the .500 teams have been among the teams that would make the playoffs. So the question is, can the Phillies split the last seven games?
The Phillies should get help from Roman Quinn and Jay Bruce soon. They both have been working at the alternate site and could be ready to be activated soon. Bruce can help at first base in the absence of Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto could play some first base to take it easier on his hip.
Scott Kingery returned Monday and hit a home run. Hopefully his offense is going to be better upon his return.
I think the Phillies have a shot, at least. it will ultimately come down to pitching, even though the Phillies are down some offense. But even without Hoskins and Realmuto out a couple days, they should still have the talent to with seven more games. And hopefully that will be enough.
The Phillies desperately need Arrieta to pitch well. Anyone they can call up for a start? Adonis Medina?
Who's going to pitch, Frank?
The question of "Who will pitch?" is going to be a big one now. The Phillies are already down Spencer Howard for the season, and Ranger Suarez has not been able to get his feet underneath him since COVID-19 hit. Vince Velasquez gave the Phillies a little hope, going five innings on September 8, but then gave the Phillies a classic Velasquez 3 2/3 inning start. The Phillies have their work cut out for them.
Looking ahead to the schedule, the Phillies would have needed Howard to start two more times the rest of the way. Then, Velasquez would have had one more start of his own. Add to that another day that would have been a bullpen game and the Phillies are hurting.
As to Adonis Medina, I would consider letting him have a start. The big question will be how stretched out he his. Medina did not open the Summer Camp at the alternate site, and joined on July 29. Unfortunately, I have not been able to see him pitch thus far. But Medina is on the 40-man roster, and if the Phillies feel he could go deep in a game, I would not rule him out.
I would not let Velasquez start again, personally.
It appears Zack Wheeler will start against the Mets this week. He and Aaron Nola would combine for six of the final 14 starts, should everything go to plan. Yes, Jake Arrieta needs to give the Phillies something. Zach Eflin needs to do better than his last start. But maybe with these four they can get the number of wins they need to make the playoffs. If the Phillies have a spot wrapped up before the final two games, they can skip the last Nola and Wheeler starts and use them in the playoffs.
How is this bullpen, even reconstructed, still so bad?
I have no real explanation for this. Look at the numbers of the newly-acquired relievers the Phillies added in trades:
Pre-Phillies:0-0, 4:05 ERA, 1.80 WHIP
With Phillies: 0-1, 4:76 ERA, 2.47 WHIP
Pre-Phillies:2-0, 5.59 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
With Phillies: 1-0, 8.22 ERA, 1.96 WHIP
Pre-Phillies:0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP
With Phillies: 0-0, 4.05 ERA, 1.80 WHIP
Pre-Phillies:2-3, 2.77 ERA, 0.69 WHIP
With Phillies: 0-1, 13.50 ERA, 2.25 WHIP
Obviously, the numbers for all four got significantly worse when joining the Phillies. Phelps looks like two different pitchers between Milwaukee and Philadelphia. These pitchers should be better than this.
My only real explanation is that something must be getting into their head. I'm a numbers guy, but at the same time I think there are some intangibles that affect performance. If the team mentally expects the bullpen to fail, then here are the
The bullpen good news:
- Blake Parker, left off the Opening Day roster in favor of the likes of Deolis Guerra, Trevor Kelley and Austin Davis, has a 1.93 ERA through his first 11 games in 2020.
- After an 8.22 ERA in August, Hector Neris has a 1.42 ERA in September.
- Jojo Romero is 0-0 with a 3.68 ERA so far.
- In the "bullpen game" in Sunday's no-hitter, the bullpen allowed two runs