Jerad Eickhoff stays grounded after out-pitching Chris Sale

Jerad Eickhoff stays grounded after out-pitching Chris Sale


The Phillies don’t have to worry about Jerad Eickhoff ever getting full of himself.
This is one grounded young man.
Eickhoff out-pitched American League Cy Young candidate Chris Sale in helping the Phillies beat the Chicago White Sox, 8-3, at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay). The 26-year-old right-hander has been remarkably consistent in his first full season in the majors. He has not missed a start, is pushing 200 innings and is 11-14 with a 3.75 ERA after starting out the season 2-8. His record would be a lot better if his mates had scored runs for him all season like they did Wednesday night.
With veteran Jeremy Hellickson likely moving on via free agency, Eickhoff could be in line to be the Phillies’ opening day starter next April.
Eickhoff was asked about that possibility after holding the White Sox to three runs over seven innings in his latest win.
His answer showed just how grounded he is.
“As long as I can be one of the guys on the team, one through five, just try to get in the rotation, whatever it is I’m happy with,” he said.
Eickhoff shouldn't worry.

He will be one of the guys next year.
Manager Pete Mackanin called him “a mainstay.” Those are words that get attached to durable pitchers who don’t miss a start and keep their teams in games, as Eickhoff has done so often. He entered Wednesday night’s game with the third-lowest run support in the majors — 3.59 runs per nine innings. He’d be pushing 15 wins with better run support. The Phils are 12-1 when scoring three runs or more in an Eickhoff start.
“That’s a tremendous compliment,” Eickhoff said in response to Mackanin’s calling him a mainstay. “I try to be as consistent as I can. You want to be counted on. To go out there and kind of know what you’re going to get, that’s what I’ve always strived to do.”
Eickhoff leads the team with 187⅓ innings. With two starts left, he has a chance to reach 200 innings.
“I think that would be a pretty cool benchmark to get to with this being my first full year,” he said. “But I try to think as day-by-day as I can and control what I can control pitch to pitch.”
Run support was not a problem for Eickhoff in this game. The Phillies had 10 hits with Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp all getting two each. Sale entered the game with a 3.03 ERA, second best in the AL, but the Phils torched him for six runs in four innings.
The top two men in the lineup, Hernandez and Roman Quinn, combined to reach base seven times and score three runs.
Joseph doubled in a run in the first inning against Sale and Rupp followed with a two-run double.
Joseph clubbed his 21st homer in 298 at-bats, a two-run shot in the third. The rookie first baseman is 12 for 25 with three homers and eight RBIs in his last seven games. He is hitting .262 with a .522 slugging percentage and a .311 on-base percentage.
Joseph was happy to get Eickhoff some run support.
“He’s pitched much better than his record,” Joseph said. “He seems to go up against the ace of every staff as well. To get him run support meant a lot for us. And I’m sure it meant something for him as well.”

Eickhoff has been prone to home runs. He has given up seven in his last two starts, but six have been solo shots and solo shots won’t kill you, as the saying goes.

The Phillies traveled to New York after the game. They open a four-game series against the Mets on Thursday night and will have a chance to impact that club’s postseason hopes. The Mets were swept by the Braves the last three nights and the Phillies would like to do the same.

“I think the guys are up to it,” Mackanin said. “The Mets are playing for something. It would be nice to be a spoiler.”

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

Photo: NBCSP

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Sixto Sanchez, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, has been noticeably absent from game action in minor-league camp.

Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development, says there's nothing to be alarmed about.

"He had the flu and he's over it now," Jordan said. "He's fine now. No issues. He's 100 percent."

Jordan said Sanchez got up to 30 pitches in a bullpen session this week.

"He let it go with all his pitches," Jordan said.

Jordan added that Sanchez would pitch in a game in the next few days. He added that Sanchez would open the season on time with the Clearwater club, though his innings will be watched at the outset until he's fully stretched out.

Sanchez, 19, is a power-armed right-hander with remarkable control. He went 5-7 with 3.03 ERA in 18 starts at Lakewood and Clearwater, both Single A affiliates, last season. He pitched 95 innings, struck out 84, walked 18 and had a WHIP of 0.958.

Phillies take long look at Roman Quinn as potential backup SS

AP Images

Phillies take long look at Roman Quinn as potential backup SS


FORT MYERS, Fla. — However the Phillies’ bench shapes up — whether it features four or five men during the first week of the regular season — one thing is a must:

“We need somebody who can play shortstop, absolutely,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

“We need someone who can play multiple positions in the infield on our bench and someone who can play multiple positions in our outfield on the bench. That’s a necessity.”

Kapler has taken a long look at Roman Quinn at shortstop the last two days. Quinn played four innings there Sunday against the Twins. He was there for the entire game Monday against the Red Sox.

Quinn grew up playing shortstop and outfield. He broke into pro ball as a shortstop but moved to center field during the 2014 season, when it became clear that J.P. Crawford was the shortstop of the future. Now, Quinn is relearning the shortstop position so he can potentially serve as a utility man on the Phillies’ bench. He’d be an intriguing talent to have on the bench because he’s a switch-hitter with electrifying speed.

As a shortstop, the Phillies won’t be looking for Quinn to be a Gold Glover. They need someone to make the play on an emergency or fill-in basis. Quinn made three plays in Monday’s game. He short-hopped one throw and Carlos Santana made the pick. He knocked down one ball, recovered and made a strong throw for an out. He made a nice play on a groundball while shifted behind second. It wasn't the prettiest exhibition, but it got the job done.

“The more I play there, the more comfortable I’m getting,” Quinn said. “I’m enjoying it. I’d like to think I can play any position. It’s fun coming in from center field and playing shortstop. I love it.”

Quinn turns 25 in May. Some schools of thought might come down against carrying a player of his potential as a reserve. Certainly, more time in Triple A would not hurt him, especially after missing more than three months with an elbow injury last year. But the Phillies are open to the possibility of carrying Quinn. His shortstop audition the last two days has made that clear.

“Everyday reps at the minor-league level are incredibly valuable,” Kapler said. “However, because a guy is on the bench at the major-league level doesn’t mean his development is stunted. He’s getting a different kind of experience and a really valuable experience.”

Tom Eshelman was charged with four runs in the bottom of the ninth as the Phils squandered a three-run lead and lost, 6-5, to Boston.

Aaron Altherr drove in four runs. He belted a three-run homer in the fifth inning against Boston ace Chris Sale. Cesar Hernandez grinded out a long at-bat before striking out and Santana and Rhys Hoskins both walked before the home run.

“When you have a guy like Sale, making him work is critical,” Kapler said. “Cesar’s punchout was an incredible at-bat. Santana and Hoskins made him work. [Sale] gets a little fatigued and Altherr gets a pitch to whack. So Altherr hitting a home run doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens as a result of team baseball.”