Phillies-Marlins observations: Nick Williams delivers win in extras

Phillies-Marlins observations: Nick Williams delivers win in extras


MIAMI — Nick Williams came through just in time.

The rookie stroked a two-run single to right in the top of the 12th inning to lead the Phillies to a 3-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park.

Williams, who had failed to get a runner home from third base with one out in the fifth inning and again in the 10th, found redemption against Marlins reliever Junichi Tazawa (3-4).

The Phillies (52-84) took three out of four games from the Marlins (67-69).

• Reliever Adam Morgan (3-1) was brilliant with three scoreless innings. He allowed no hits and just one walk, a splendid encore to his work earlier this weekend when he pitched one scoreless inning.

Hector Neris got the save, his 19th.

• The Phillies got a stellar start from 23-year-old Jake Thompson.

Called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley in time to make his 14th career start, Thompson struck out a career-high seven batters in six innings. He allowed three hits and no walks but took a no-decision.

• With no Rhys Hoskins (bruised hand) in the lineup, the Phillies struggled to score. The middle of the lineup — where Hoskins normally resides — was especially poor … until the 12th.

Still, Williams, in the three-hole, went 1 for 5 with a strikeout, stranding five runners.

Clean-up man Tommy Joseph went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts, stranding six.

Williams had opportunities to drive in runs in both the fifth and 10th innings, but he failed both times. Joseph followed him with an inning-ending out in both of those frames.  

• Cameron Perkins nearly won the game for the Phillies in the ninth. With a runner on first and two outs, his long drive to dead center was run down by Christian Yelich.

• The Phillies had a forgettable eighth inning as all three of their batters — Freddy Galvis, Williams and Joseph — struck out against reliever Kyle Barraclough.

• From the hole at shortstop, Galvis threw out Marcell Ozuna at first on a bang-bang-bang play in the seventh.

That’s three “bangs” because the ball tipped off the glove of third baseman Maikel Franco, was caught by Galvis and then dug out of the dirt at first by Joseph. Ozuna was originally called safe, but that ruling was overturned on video review.

• The Phillies opened the scoring with one run in the fifth, but the Phillies really should have cashed in a bit better.

The Phillies produced four singles, making Marlins starter Jose Urena throw 27 pitches. Cesar Hernandez got the RBI on an opposite-field single, but Williams (lineout) and Joseph (groundout) both stranded the bases loaded.

• Miami tied the score in the bottom of the fifth due to an unfortunate circumstance. Miami’s Brian Anderson, playing his first weekend of Major League Baseball, pulled a leadoff double down the third-base line, advanced to third on an A.J. Ellis groundout and scored on a wild pitch in the dirt.

Certainly, Thompson has to wear that wild pitch, which occurred on an 84-mph breaking ball away. But it was also not catcher Jorge Alfaro’s finest moment as he failed to block that pitch and save his pitcher.

For Phillies, a reunion with Pat Neshek makes sense

AP Images

For Phillies, a reunion with Pat Neshek makes sense

ORLANDO — The Phillies' bullpen showed signs of coming together late last season. Over the final 33 games, the team's relievers put together a 2.54 ERA. Only the Cleveland Indians' bullpen had a better ERA (2.41) over that span.

Despite those improvements, general manager Matt Klentak has arrived at these winter meetings intent on strengthening that unit. Sources say the club would like to add one or two veterans to the bullpen and that team officials have discussed a reunion with free agent Pat Neshek. Sources say the Phils have also expressed interest in free-agent lefty Jake McGee.

The Phils would also like to add a starting pitcher. That could come in a trade, possibly involving Cesar Hernandez or Freddy Galvis.

Bringing back Neshek would make a lot of sense. Klentak has an affinity for the right-hander, and why not? In his first two offseasons as Phillies GM, Klentak added a number of veterans designed to serve as stabilizing forces as the team navigated a rebuild. The Phils got little from pitchers Charlie Morton and Clay Buchholz; both suffered season-ending injuries early in their time with the club. The Phils got mixed results (and no high draft pick) from Jeremy Hellickson in a season and a half with the club. Howie Kendrick contributed nicely but was often hurt. Michael Saunders flopped. Peter Bourjos was somewhere in the middle.

Among Klentak's big-league pickups, Neshek has been the one overwhelming success. Klentak acquired the side-arming reliever in a salary dump deal (the Phils added his $6.5 million salary) from Houston in the fall of 2016 and Neshek delivered a stellar season in 2017. He pitched in 43 games (40⅓ innings) for the Phillies and gave up just five runs while walking five and striking out 45. At the trade deadline, the Phils turned Neshek into three prospects by sending him to Colorado, where he was a teammate of McGee's. In Colorado, Neshek continued to shine. He finished the season with a 1.59 ERA in 71 games. Overall, he pitched 62⅓ innings and gave up just 11 earned runs while walking six and striking out 69.

Why wouldn't the Phillies want a guy like that back to help set up for Hector Neris and complement Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan and Edubray Ramos, all relatively young relievers who showed breakthrough signs in 2017?

Given Neshek's success last season — he was the Phillies' lone All-Star — and his track record, he would probably require a two-year contract. But even at 37, Neshek has shown the durability that would make that a sound investment, especially if there was not a no-trade clause. That way, the Phils could deal Neshek for young talent if they were not in the race. And, of course, they could hang on to him if they were in the race.

Matt Klentak has veteran relievers on his wish list and Pat Neshek makes sense.


5 Phillies-specific matters to watch during Winter Meetings

USA Today Images

5 Phillies-specific matters to watch during Winter Meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. — Matt Klentak checked off the biggest item on his offseason to-do list when he hired new manager Gabe Kapler in late October. Other than that, it's been a relatively quiet offseason for the Phillies general manager, who is entering his third year on the job.

Things are expected to pick up for Klentak and the Phillies this week as baseball's Winter Meetings get underway at Disney. Heck, things should pick up for the entire industry now that the winter's two marquee talents — Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton — have found landing spots. Ohtani, the Japanese phenom, signed with the Angels. Stanton was traded from the Marlins to the Yankees.

As the meetings get going, here are five Phillies-specific matters to keep an eye on:

Middle infield
The Phillies have a young shortstop (J.P. Crawford) and a young second baseman (Scott Kingery) on the way and any clubs looking for a shortstop or a second baseman know the Phillies are willing to deal Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. In fact, the Phillies have already received offers for both of these players, though none worthy of pulling the trigger on. The Phillies could go into the 2018 season with Galvis and Hernandez on the roster and mix in Crawford at three positions while Kingery percolates in Triple A. But it seems more likely the Phils will move one (maybe both) of their incumbents. Hernandez has three years of contract control so he could have more value than Galvis (he'll be a free agent next winter) on the trade market. The Angels have long liked Hernandez and the Mets are looking for second base help. The Padres are looking for a stopgap shortstop as they wait for prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., but there are free agents out there (Zack Cozart, Alcides Escobar) that would not cost the Padres talent in a deal.

The Phillies' bullpen showed signs of coming together in the second half of last season, but the team would still like to add a veteran who knows his way around the late innings. A Pat Neshek reunion has been discussed internally. A reunion with free agent Juan Nicasio might make sense.

Starting pitching
At the general managers' meetings last month, Klentak acknowledged the need to add a starting pitcher. The Phillies will look to mine the second tier of the free-agent market and will also look to get pitching in a deal for Hernandez or Galvis.

A blockbuster deal
The Phillies' farm system has improved to the point where they have the depth to jump in full-force if the Orioles make Manny Machado available or the Marlins look to trade Christian Yelich. Both players have big fans in the Phillies' front office. The Phils could also bid for a pitcher such as Chris Archer or Gerrit Cole if they become available.

Rule 5 draft
The Phillies have the third pick in Thursday's event and will have room on their roster after outfielder Cameron Perkins and infielder Engelb Vielma clear waivers Monday. The Phillies sneaked outfielder Carlos Tocci through the Rule 5 draft last year. They could lose him this year.

First base coach
The Phillies still have one opening on their coaching staff. Juan Samuel, most recently the Phillies' third base coach, could still end up being retained on the staff and move over to first base. Kapler, in continuing to introduce himself to his new charges, recently met with Phillies players in the Dominican Republic. Front office man Jorge Velandia, a longtime member of the player-development staff, accompanied Kapler on the trip. The Phillies brass likes Velandia's impact in the front office, but he could be an intriguing possibility as the first-base coach. He interviewed for the managerial job before Kapler was hired.

Gabe the Babe
Craig Calcaterra, founder of the HardballTalk blog on, unveils his annual list of baseball's most handsome managers during the winter meetings. This hilarious feature is hotly anticipated by many in the baseball establishment. Pete Mackanin ranked eighth last year and it was a big topic of conversation in the Phillies' war room. So where will the hunky Kapler land in his first year of eligibility? Keep an eye out for Calcaterra's fifth annual list.