Phillies-Marlins 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff's rough patch may be over

Phillies-Marlins 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff's rough patch may be over

Phillies (30-60) at Marlins (41-49)
7:10 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on and the NBC Sports App

Nick Williams' game-winning grand slam gave the Phillies something to feel good about as they flew from Milwaukee to Miami Sunday night.

The Phils are at Marlins Park for three games this week before returning home for a 10-game homestand. When this series ends, the Phils will have played 52 of their 93 games on the road.

1. Two in a row for Eickhoff?
Jerad Eickhoff returned from the disabled list on the final day of the first half, just in time to strike out eight Padres in five scoreless innings to pick up his first win of 2017.

Eickhoff (1-7, 4.63) had his great curveball working that afternoon and also had command of his fastball. When he has both, he's tough to beat. 

Eickhoff's last two starts have each been solid, with him allowing one run on 10 hits with 10 strikeouts in 11 innings. Both games were at Citizens Bank Park.

Keep an eye tonight on Eickhoff's mechanics. When he was a in a rut in May and June, he was consistently falling off the mound to his left side and his pitches to right-handed hitters were sailing high-and-away. 

Eickhoff has faced the Marlins five times and is 2-3 with a 3.30 ERA. He's struck out 27 and walked just four in 30 innings. At Marlins Park, he's 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA.

Current Fish have hit .307 off Eickhoff with 10 extra-base hits in just over 90 plate appearances. Marcell Ozuna is 3 for 10 with two doubles and a homer. Christian Yelich is 4 for 11 with a double and a homer. Justin Bour is 3 for 6 with a homer. Giancarlo Stanton is 1 for 6 with three strikeouts.

2. Deep Miami lineup
The Marlins have one of the deeper lineups in the National League, which must have manager Don Mattingly frustrated to be 10 games out of the wild-card race.

Stanton has hit .272 with a 26 homers, 59 RBIs and a .918 OPS. Most importantly, he's stayed healthy and played in 89 of 90 games.

Ozuna, an All-Star, has hit .317 with 23 homers, 70 RBIs and a .938 OPS.

Yelich is seeing the ball well and is now up to .288 with a .364 on-base percentage.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto is hitting .290.

Dee Gordon is hitting .290 with 32 steals.

And Bour's first half may have been the most impressive of all — the first baseman is hitting .287 with 20 homers and 61 RBIs. After barely facing left-handed pitchers in 2015 and 2016, Bour has hit .323 with six homers and a 1.045 OPS off of them this season.

3. Altherr to DL
Aaron Altherr was placed on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to July 15. He strained his right hamstring on a double Friday night in Milwaukee.

Cesar Hernandez, who played four games with High-A Clearwater during his rehab assignment, was activated Monday to take Altherr's spot on the 25-man roster.

Hernandez (oblique) went 1 for 1 with six walks in Sunday's 13-4 Threshers win.

The Phillies are also expecting right-hander Vince Velasquez (elbow) to return from the DL Tuesday.

The Phils missed Hernandez's consistency atop the lineup. He's hit .289 with a .361 on-base percentage since the start of 2016.

4. The Phils' incredibly mediocre nemesis
The Phillies face 31-year-old right-hander Tom Koehler tonight for the first time this season and 17th time since 2012.

In those previous 16 games (14 starts), Koehler is 4-4 with a 3.43 ERA.

Against every other team in his career, Koehler has a 4.51 ERA. 

This season, Koehler is 1-4 with an 8.00 ERA, 1.73 WHIP and .300 opponents' batting average. He's also allowed 12 home runs in just 45 innings. He's been arguably the worst starting pitcher in baseball this season.

And yet, much of that means nothing because the Phillies have let so many struggling pitchers off the hook in 2017. 

Current Phillies have just one home run off Koehler in more than 130 plate appearances. It belongs to Freddy Galvis. 

5. This and that
• Odubel Herrera continues to frustrate on the basepaths, but he's gradually getting his numbers back to a more respectable place. After doubling twice Sunday, he's hitting .320 with a .897 OPS since the beginning of June. He has 17 doubles, a triple and five home runs in those 37 games.

• The Phillies are 2-3 against the Marlins this season and 15-18 vs. the NL East. They actually don't have the worst divisional record in the NL East — the Braves do at 18-22.

• Perhaps the most impressive sign early in Nick Williams' big-league career is his use of the whole field. Of his 30 balls in play, 24 have been up the middle or to the opposite field. He's 0 for 6 when pulling the ball, 9 for 18 with two doubles and a homer going up the middle, and 3 for 6 with a homer when going the other way.

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.