Phillies

Hernandez cruises, states case to stay in rotation

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Hernandez cruises, states case to stay in rotation

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MILWAUKEE – Roberto Hernandez’s spot in the starting pitching rotation will be the subject of debate for Phillies officials during the All-Star break.

Cliff Lee is expected to come off the disabled list (and audition for contending teams) right after the break and the Phillies will need to clear a spot for him.

Unless there’s an injury, a trade or something unforeseen, either Hernandez or David Buchanan will have to come out of the rotation. Hernandez would go to the bullpen if he’s the guy. Buchanan could return to the minors if he’s the guy.

In his final start before the All-Star break Wednesday night, Hernandez stated his case to stay in the rotation.

The right-handed sinkerballer pitched his best game of the season –- eight innings, three singles, one run –- in a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers (see Instant Replay).

The Brewers are scuffling (they are 1-7 in July) and All-Stars Ryan Braun (back) and Jonathan Lucroy (night off) were out the lineup, but Hernandez was impressive just the same. He got 12 outs on groundballs. He is now 4-8 with a 4.22 ERA.

Buchanan, 4-5 with a 4.82 ERA in nine big-league starts, goes for the Phillies on Thursday afternoon.

The Phils have beaten the Brewers in the first three games of the series and can sweep with a win. That’s kind of amazing when you think about it. The Phils lost five of the first six games on this 10-game trip. A win Thursday will give them a .500 trip, but they are still far from contention having been the last team in the NL East to reach 40 wins.

Manager Ryne Sandberg didn’t want to touch the question of who exits the rotation when Lee comes back.

“We’ll make a decision when the time comes,” he said.

Hernandez wasn’t in the mood to talk about it, either.

“I only control pitching,” he said. “I don’t control the decisions. When they give me the ball, I pitch. I want to stay (in the rotation), but I don’t make the decision.”

The game was played in a good-ol’-days two hours, 15 minutes. That’s because Hernandez and his counterpart, Kyle Lohse, were both so efficient. Lohse was hurt by a pair of homers –- a solo shot by Chase Utley in the first and a two-run blow by Jimmy Rollins in the sixth -– in his eight innings of work.

Hernandez threw a very manageable 84 pitches, but Sandberg did not let him go out for the ninth. His reasoning?

“I thought about it,” Sandberg said. “If we would have scored one more run, I would have sent him back out. Other than that, he did his job. Just let (Jonathan) Papelbon have a fresh start.”

Papelbon breezed to his 22nd save and third in as many nights. After the game, he talked about taking his talents to a contending club (see story).

Was Hernandez disappointed about not getting a chance to go for the complete game?

“I control the pitching, not the decisions,” he said.

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.