Phillies

Phillies-Marlins thoughts: All set for a pitchers' duel at Marlins Park?

Phillies-Marlins thoughts: All set for a pitchers' duel at Marlins Park?

Phillies (51-83) at Marlins (66-68)
7:10 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

After the Phillies picked up their second straight win Friday, here are some thoughts prior to the third of four games with the Fish in Marlins Park this weekend:

• Friday's 2-1 win is one of the many types of games that normally have gone against the Phillies this season. They have 31 one-run losses, the most in baseball, and typically would have put up a little fight down 1-0 in the ninth or blown their newfound lead soon after scoring two. 

In picking up the save, Hector Neris looked quite sharp. Four swinging strikes in 10 total pitches while pitching a 1-2-3 inning against Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto. That's an impressive inning of work. 

Maikel Franco and Jorge Alfaro had the big hits in the inning, but you can't overlook Andres Blanco's game-winning groundout. You never see guys pump their fist on a 4-3 groundout, but those GOs don't usually come with the winning RBI. Big AB from the veteran, who did his job with men on third and first with one out. 

• Saturday night is as close to a pitchers' duel on paper as these two teams can provide with Aaron Nola vs. Dan Straily. That says a lot about how far the two pitchers have come this year. Straily has followed up last season's strong results with better peripherals and fewer home runs, albeit in a much bigger ballpark. 

And Nola is Nola. He comes into Saturday with a 10-9 record and a 3.46 ERA in 137 2/3 innings. His 1.184 WHIP is a career best, as are his 141 strikeouts. 

• Straily has been effective against the Phillies this season, although his 4.08 ERA in three starts may indicate otherwise. However, in 17 2/3 innings, he's struck out 27 batters and walked seven. He's been done in by 20 hits, but those strikeouts stand out.

He's come back down to earth slightly in the second half, though that was mostly because of a bad July. A brief rise in his home run rate was the culprit as his K-BB ratio has actually improved significantly since the All-Star break.

Franco has the best numbers of any Phillie regular against Straily, going 4 for 9 with a walk against the right-hander. Daniel Nava is 3 for 3 with a home run while Cameron Rupp has a home run in two at-bats.  

• Nola was rocked by the Fish two starts ago on Aug. 22. It was easily his worst start of the season. He allowed two home runs, making the appearance his first multi-homer game since May 26 and just his second overall this season. He rebounded vs. the Braves, but Atlanta isn't much of a test. Despite the spacious confines of Marlins Park, the Marlins are much tougher for the Phils' righty.

Giancarlo Stanton, Ichiro Suzuki and Ozuna each have a home run off Nola in their careers. Stanton is 3 for 6 with a double and the HR against Nola. He's the only Marlin with multiple extra-base hits off him.

• Stanton is a beast in every sense, especially against the Phillies. However, this series has started out differently for the 51-homer slugger. He's 0 for 7 with two walks and three strikeouts in the first two games. 

However, don't fool yourself: He's still dangerous. He's 12 for 49 with seven home runs (and seven walks) against the Phillies this year. The seven blasts are his most against any one team in 2017.

Rhys Hoskins' 13-game hitting streak came to an end Friday with an 0 for 3 evening. Time to declare him a bust, right? Just kidding! He's still gone 5 for 18 (.278) with two walks in his last five games, a solid line since his last game with a homer.

Friday was his first three-strikeout game, though. He's maintained impressive plate discipline since coming up, so how he responds against a pitcher like Straily that can rack up strikeouts will be intriguing to watch. Not that anything Hoskins does would be considered unintriguing!

• The Phillies are now 6-8 against the Fish this year. They have winning records against just two teams: the Braves (12-4) and the Giants (4-3). 

• Triple A Lehigh Valley picked up a win on Friday over Scranton Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees' affiliate. Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford each had hits while Dylan Cozens provided the big blow with a go-ahead three-run homer that swung the game.

The IronPigs are two games back in the wild-card standings in the International League with just three games left, so a playoff appearance is unlikely. Assuming they miss out on the playoffs, that means potential call-ups would be coming Tuesday to join the Phillies at Citi Field after Labor Day.

Edubray Ramos had his fourth straight scoreless outing Friday. In the seven innings since his bad outing against the Giants on Aug. 19, he's allowed just three hits and three walks while striking out nine. 

Meanwhile, Hoby Milner hasn't given up a run in more than a month. In his last 15 games, he's held opponents to 11 hits and four walks in 11 2/3 innings while striking out six. He has a .354 OBP against in that span but opponents have just a .286 slugging percentage against the southpaw.

• Finally, the Phillies are aiming to win three straight for the first time since Aug. 6-9. They haven't won the first two games of any month this season. 

Angels' moves hurt Phillies' chances of catching Trout

ap-angels-mike-trout.jpg
AP Images

Angels' moves hurt Phillies' chances of catching Trout

The Eagles made Angel Stadium in Anaheim their home away from home last week. The entire team was greeted with a gift of a Mike Trout bobblehead. Nigel Bradham even used the Millville native and Birds season ticketholder's locker to dress. Trout left a personalized message to his favorite team prior to the Rams game.

Yet another link that it is kismet for the native son, the best player in his sport, to return someday soon to Philadelphia and play for the team he grew up rooting for? After all, the Phillies are flush with spending money should the opportunity arise. They appear to have the makings of a strong nucleus that could lure the 26-year-old back East. His deal runs through 2020 and Trout would be only 29 at the end of that contract. Seems perfect, right?  

Not so fast, my red pinstriped friends.

Hold on, we'll get to that in one minute. If you've been comatose the last seven seasons, all Trout has done since debuting in the big leagues in 2011 is win two MVPs, finish second in MVP voting three times and make six All-Star Games. The marriage here with the Phillies, a team he was a die-hard fan of growing up — even attending the 2008 World Series Championship parade as a senior in high school — would be one made in heaven. 

Adding fodder to the Trout-to-Philly hype is the Angels have reached the postseason only once in his time there. The hope from a fan's perspective would be Anaheim would continue to languish in mediocrity and eventually be forced to move Trout to possibly begin a rebuild, or he would play out his deal and walk. Wishful thinking? Sure. Out of the question? No. Trout has a full no-trade, so he can pick and choose where he ends up if he wishes to leave Southern California for South Philly prior to the end of his deal.

However, there may be a fly in the ointment. Despite it being only December, the Angels have had themselves an offseason. They signed Japanese two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. The 23-year-old is a three-pitch starter who can touch over 100 mph on the gun with his fastball. He posted a 1.86 ERA in 140 innings for his Nippon-Ham club in Japan's Pacific League, a very high level of baseball. He also batted .322 with a .416 on-base percentage, while slugging .588 last season. In 2016, he hit 22 home runs. This was a major coup for the Angels, who won a bidding war over many other suitors around the league to land the right-handed pitching, left-handed hitting Ohtani.  

The Angels also signed veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler, a four-time All-Star and 2016 Gold Glove winner. Despite being 35, Kinsler is a major upgrade from what they had last year at the position. Anaheim also traded for Justin Upton late last year and re-signed him in the offseason. He'll play next to Trout in left. The Angels still need to upgrade their pitching. But on paper, they have the makings of a potent lineup that, with some pitching help, could land a wild-card spot in the playoffs. That is not music to Phillies fans' ears.

We're a long way away from 2020, so a lot can happen both here and 2,376 miles away in Orange County. The Phillies need to hope their current young nucleus blossoms like the group of Rollins, Utley, Howard and Hamels did in the mid-2000s. They should also keep a close eye on their neighbors to the West and cross their fingers things don't go so well. If both scenarios play out in their favor, the Phillies could reel in the biggest fish in franchise history.

Phillies lose prospect in Rule 5 draft, gain money to sign more

clearwater-phillies-carlos-tocci.jpg
Photo: Clearwater Threshers

Phillies lose prospect in Rule 5 draft, gain money to sign more

ORLANDO, Fla. — Carlos Tocci has long been an intriguing prospect in the Phillies' system. The club's international scouting staff liked the slender outfielder from Venezuela enough to give him a $759,000 signing bonus as a 16-year-old in the summer of 2011.

The big question with Tocci was whether he'd develop enough offensive pop to go with his outstanding defensive prowess.

Tocci made strides every year in the Phillies system, but not enough, in the minds of team officials, to move past other prospects and win a spot on the 40-man roster. The Phils left him unprotected last winter and managed to slip him through the annual Rule 5 draft, but they weren't so fortunate this year. Tocci was selected by the Chicago White Sox with the fourth pick in Thursday's draft and quickly spun to the Texas Rangers in a trade.

The price to select Tocci was $100,000. He must spend the entire 2018 season in the majors (or on the big-league disabled list) or be offered back to the Phillies for $50,000.

"Obviously, it stinks for us to lose a guy like that, but it's the risk you take when you don't protect someone," Phillies assistant general manager Bryan Minniti said. "I'm happy for him to get the opportunity. Selfishly, we hope to get him back."

Tocci, 22, hit .307 with a .362 on-base percentage and a .398 slugging percentage in 113 games at Double A Reading in 2017. He hit .189 in 17 games at Triple A.

Tocci has athleticism and speed. He is a plus defender. His speed and defensive skill could help him stick in the majors as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.

The Phillies added a player in the Rule 5 draft, but only briefly. They selected right-handed pitcher Nick Burdi from Minnesota with the third pick and quickly traded him to Pittsburgh for $500,000 in international signing money. The Phils have just over $1 million remaining in their current pool, which expires June 15.

Extra international money is valuable. The Phillies recently added four pitchers — Seranthony Dominguez, Ranger Suarez, Jose Taveras and Franklyn Kilome — to their 40-man roster and all were international signings. The team recently used international pool money to sign catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, one of 13 former Atlanta prospects who had been set free after the Braves violated signing rules. Several of those players are still unsigned and other prospects pop up all the time. Remember, the Phillies' top pitching prospect is a kid named Sixto Sanchez. He caught the eye of Phillies scouts three years ago while throwing batting practice to a catcher that the Phillies were watching (see story).

"Our international department with Sal Agostinelli and those guys, they're weapons for us," Minniti said. "So for us to have the ability to give them more money to spend is a positive. They're seeing workouts every day all over the world. It's good to have the reserves to continue to spend."

The Phillies have two open spots on their 40-man roster. Those will soon be filled by relievers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.

The Phillies also completed their coaching staff on Thursday, hiring Jose Flores as first base coach and infield/baserunning instructor. Flores was a 34th-round pick by the Astros in 1989 and spent six years in their minor-league system. He spent 10 years as a coach in Puerto Rico's winter league and was also a coach for Puerto Rico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Gabe Kapler's full staff includes bench coach Rob Thomson, hitting coach John Mallee, assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, assistant pitching coach Chris Young, bullpen coach Jim Gott, first base coach Flores and third base coach Dusty Wathan.