Phillies-Mets observations: Ben Lively, Phils rack up hits in 9-1 win

Phillies-Mets observations: Ben Lively, Phils rack up hits in 9-1 win


NEW YORK — Nights like this are why Charlie Manuel used to say, "Baseball is a funny game."

Jacob deGrom has spent much of his career beating up on the Phillies. On Tuesday night, the Phillies beat him up in a 9-1 win at Citi Field.

• The kids fueled the victory and offered a glimpse of what the future might look like (see story). Rookie right-hander Ben Lively pitched seven strong innings and drove in four runs with a two-run single and a two-run homer, both against deGrom. Rookie Nick Williams had a three-run double. Rookie Rhys Hoskins was on base four times with a single, double and two walks. And, of course, J.P. Crawford had a hit, scored a run and played flawless at third base in his first big-league game. He also grounded into a double play and struck out twice, but all in all it was a nice debut.

• You will see a lot of Crawford over the final weeks of the season (see story).

• Lively doesn't light up the radar gun, but he commands what he has and has some deception in his delivery. He held the Mets, who scored 11 runs against Phillies pitching on Monday, to four hits and a run over seven innings. The run came in the first inning. He then racked up six scoreless. He got away with three walks and struck out four.

• Lively has turned in a quality start in eight of 11 outings.

• DeGrom was tagged for 10 hits and a career-high nine runs (three were unearned) in 3 2/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his career. It was surprising to see deGrom knocked around like that by the Phillies. After all, he struck out the side in the first inning. And he had entered the game with some impressive numbers against the Phils — a 6-0 record with a 2.10 ERA in 10 career starts. He had been 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA (three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings) in three starts against the Phils this season. He had struck out 24 and walked just three in those three games. As Charlie used to say, "Baseball is a funny game."

• Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe it wasn't. On the day Crawford, a legitimate threat to his job, showed up, Freddy Galvis stroked three hits and drew a walk. He entered the game with just a .304 on-base percentage. Getting on base is Crawford's strength. His career on-base mark in the minors was .367.

• Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph, the opening day third baseman and first baseman, respectively, were both on the bench as the Phillies looked at rookies Crawford and Hoskins at those positions. Crawford, a natural shortstop, looked good at the position. He started a nifty 5-4-3 double play to end a Mets' threat in the eighth and get Hoby Milner out of trouble.

• Watch your back, Joe D., Odubel Herrera's hitting streak is at 19 games.

• In 26 games, Hoskins has an on-base percentage of .436.

• The series concludes on Wednesday night with a pair of hard-throwing right-handers — Nick Pivetta (5-9, 6.28) vs. Matt Harvey (4-4, 5.97).

Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

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Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies signed free-agent right-hander Jake Arrieta earlier this week.

That's probably going to be the extent of their pitching additions for now.

Jerad Eickhoff is out until at least May with a strained right lat muscle and that creates a sizable hole in the Phillies rotation.

The hole is likely to be filled internally, according to general manager Matt Klentak. The team is not likely to make a run at Alex Cobb, who remains on the free-agent market.

"I doubt it," Klentak said when asked if he would look outside the organization to fill Eickhoff's spot. "I don't think we have to. I think a lot of our guys have shown very well in camp. They have gotten their pitch counts up, they're getting to the point of being fully stretched out.

"More than anything, I think we're going to have some tough decisions on figuring out who is in the rotation, who is in the bullpen, who goes into the Triple-A rotation, who goes into the Double-A rotation. We've got a lot of tough decisions to make on that front, but I don't think we're in a position where we have to go outside. We have a lot of candidates to take the ball at the big league level so we'll be fine."

Aaron Nola will start on opening day. Arrieta will be in the rotation, though he might need an extra week or so to get ready. Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are likely to hold down spots. That leaves Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr., Jake Thompson, Drew Hutchison and Tom Eshelman in the running for the final spot in the five-man rotation. Eshelman, strike-thrower extraordinaire, was the Phillies' minor-league pitcher of the year last year and projects to be in Philadelphia before long. However, it might not be at the outset of the season because he is not on the 40-man roster. Neither is Hutchison.

The Phillies do not need a fifth starter until April 11 so they could employ some creative roster construction until then. They could go with four starters and an extra reliever or bench man. Or they could bring an extra starter and "piggyback" him with Arrieta, a move that would allow Arrieta to make an abbreviated start during the first week of the season.

"There's a decent chance we open the season with somewhat of a non-traditional 25-man roster, not because we're trying to be cute but because we don't need the fifth starter until the 11th," Klentak said. "We're going to do whatever puts us in the best position to win those first 10 days of the season."

The Phillies made one transaction on Friday. They added utility man Pedro Florimon to the 40-man roster. He had a provision in his minor-league contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn't on the 40-man roster by March 15. Florimon is a candidate for a spot on the Phillies' bench. The move doesn't guarantee that Florimon will win a spot, but it gives the team more time to evaluate him. To make room for Florimon, the Phillies designated infielder Eliezer Alvarez for assignment.

Florimon homered in the Phillies' 6-4 loss to Toronto in Clearwater Friday. Cam Rupp and Cesar Hernandez also homered. Velasquez gave up five hits and a run in 2⅔ innings. He struck out five.

In Lakeland, Pivetta allowed two runs over five innings as the Phils and Tigers played to a 6-6 tie. J.P. Crawford and Ryan Flaherty both homered.

Phillies lose Jerad Eickhoff for 6-8 weeks

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Phillies lose Jerad Eickhoff for 6-8 weeks

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies' pitching staff has suffered a setback.

Jerad Eickhoff, projected as a member of the season-opening starting rotation, has been shut down with a strained right lat muscle, the area behind his shoulder. He will open the season on the disabled list and be sidelined into May, based on the team's six- to eight-week timetable for treatment and recovery.

Eickhoff, 27, spent time on the disabled list with a similar injury last season. That injury was technically called an upper back strain.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Eickhoff injured himself on one of the final pitches he threw during his last start.

Eickhoff led the Phillies' staff in ERA (3.65) while making 33 starts in 2016. He was limited to 24 starts and had a 4.71 ERA last year while making two trips to the DL. His second trip to the DL, which ended his season, was for a nerve irritation in his right hand. Eickhoff is in Philadelphia being checked by doctors.

"We want to ensure, and we're pretty confident, that it's not related in any way to the (nerve) stuff he was dealing with last year," manager Gabe Kapler said.

Kapler added, "It's a mild lat strain. There might be a blessing in disguise here. We're always thinking about keeping guys healthy and strong and limiting their total innings count. Those are things that are always on our mind so it's possible the innings are limited on the front end and then in September, October, he's strong and healthy and prepared to go through a full season."

With Eickhoff down, the Phillies suddenly have some openings in their rotation. Jake Arrieta, who signed with the Phillies on Monday, believes he can be ready for the first week of the season, but nothing is official. Aaron Nola will be the opening day starter and Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez are good bets to be in the rotation. The final spot could go to Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr. or Tom Eshelman.

It is not known whether the Phillies would pursue free agent Alex Cobb. On Monday, general manager Matt Klentak said his offseason moves were likely complete.