Phillies

Phillies-Mets observations: Mark Leiter Jr.'s early hole proves too deep to climb out of in loss

Phillies-Mets observations: Mark Leiter Jr.'s early hole proves too deep to climb out of in loss

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — The Phillies continued to struggle against the New York Mets in an 11-7 loss Monday afternoon.

Phillies starter Mark Leiter Jr. was hit hard in taking the loss.

The Phillies are 3-9 against the Mets this season and 16-36 against them since the start of the 2015 season. The Phils have lost 21 of their last 30 games at Citi Field, dating to July 2014.

The Phillies made mistakes on the bases and in the field. This wasn't their worst game of the season, but it would probably rank in the top 5. At one point, the Phils trailed 10-0. 

The Phillies are 88-103 all-time on Labor Day.

• Leiter does not have overpowering stuff. When he's been successful, he has pitched at the knees and been able to work inside on hitters. He had trouble keeping his fastball out of the middle of the plate in this one. He gave up two homers in the third inning (to Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera), both virtually on the same pitch — 90 mph fastballs down the middle. Leiter was tagged for nine hits and nine runs.

• The Phillies have gone 141 consecutive games without using a left-handed starting pitcher. It is their longest such streak in nearly a century — since 1919. Adam Morgan was the Phillies' last lefty starter on Sept. 28 of last season. Speaking of Morgan, he has shined in the bullpen lately, showing a 96-mph fastball, a good slider, poise and control. That has prompted some to wonder if the Phils might give Morgan another shot to start down the stretch. Though he did not rule it out, manager Pete Mackanin did not sound like that was a route he wanted to take. "That's going to be a debate that we'll have, a conversation we'll have," he said. "Then the question becomes: Has he found his niche, or do you want to mess with that? I wouldn't want to.”

• Nick Williams had an adventure on the base paths in the fourth inning. He stole his first base as a big-leaguer, but he would have been out by six feet if hadn't contorted his diving body to elude the second baseman's tag after an off-line throw from the catcher. Moments later, Williams made the third out when he simply ran into third baseman Cabrera instead of making him throw the ball across the diamond. 

• Rhys Hoskins returned to the starting lineup. Odubel Herrera will do so Tuesday night (see story).

• Herrera entered the game as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning. He ended a nine-pitch at-bat with an RBI single, raising his hitting streak to 18 games.

• Hoskins did not get a hit, but he was on base twice with a pair of walks. He worked a 10-pitch walk in the second inning.

• Hoskins had the bat taken out of his hands when Cesar Hernandez was caught stealing to end the top of the first.

• Maikel Franco grounded into his 19th double play of the season in the second inning. He and Tommy Joseph both rank in the top 10 in the NL in that category. Joseph entered the day ranked second in the league with 21, two behind leader Matt Kemp of the Braves.

• Lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist, picked up on waivers from St. Louis, became the 47th player to appear in a game for the team this season. His debut was not good. He allowed a hit, two walks and a run. Thirteen of his 24 pitches were balls.

• Andres Blanco came off the bench and had three of the Phillies' 10 hits.

• Triple A Lehigh Valley clinched a berth in the International League playoffs Sunday. That won't delay J.P. Crawford's arrival to the majors. He will join the Phillies in New York on Tuesday (see story). The IronPigs were picked clean by the big club this season. Surging to make the playoffs is a nice accomplishment.

• The Phillies are using three rookie starters in this series. Ben Lively (2-5, 4.22) pitches Tuesday night against Jacob deGrom (13-8, 3.43). 

DeGrom owns the Phillies. He is 6-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 10 career starts against the Phils. He is 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA (three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings) in three starts against the Phils this season. He has struck out 24 and walked just three.

Rookie Nick Pivetta (5-9, 6.28) will start for the Phillies on Wednesday against Matt Harvey (4-4, 5.97).

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

uspresswire-ap-phillies-cubs-williams-arrieta.jpg
AP Images/USA Today Images

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

It's not clear whether the Phillies will add a starting pitcher before opening day, but surely they would like to.

General manager Matt Klentak “is busting his ass every single day looking for every possible opportunity to upgrade our team from every perspective,” manager Gabe Kapler said on Tuesday. “That includes looking at every option possible for the rotation.”

Klentak has kept a close eye on the trade market, but has found the prices (i.e., the young talent that must be surrendered) for top, controllable starters to be prohibitive.

He has kept a close eye on the free-agent market, but the length of contracts that top pitchers are looking for has given him pause.

For months, the Phillies have distanced themselves from speculation that has connected them to elite level free-agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

But with spring training less than a month away and both pitchers still unsigned, the Phillies would at least have to consider both pitchers if their asking prices experience a January thaw.

Six or seven years? No way.

Three years? Hmmm. Let's talk.

The Phillies are hosting a number of their young players this week. Rhys Hoskins, Jerad Eickhoff, Mark Leiter and Nick Williams were all in town on Tuesday.

Williams has set his sights on making the National League All-Star team in 2018.

“That's what I'm shooting for,” he said at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. “I think I had a pretty good year last year. I'm shooting for more now. I don't think being an All-Star is shooting too high.”

Williams, 24, hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 83 games, mostly in right field, with the big club as a rookie last season.

To give himself the best chance of surpassing those numbers — and achieving his goal of making the All-Star team — Williams has spent the offseason in Austin, Texas, working with personal trainer Jeremy Hills, a former University of Texas football player.

Williams is working hard on agility, which will help him in the outfield and on the base paths.

And guess who one of his daily workout partners is?

Free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta.

Back in Austin, between reps and protein shakes, Williams has occasionally talked up Philadelphia as a potential landing spot to Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner who will turn 32 in March.

“He loves it here,” Williams said of Arrieta, who, as a free agent and a Scott Boras client, is astute enough not to rule out any team, particularly one as deep-pocketed as the Phillies. “He has told me he likes working with young guys. I'm like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I'm not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I'm not really in his position.”

Williams smiled.

“I hope to be one day,” he said.

Williams marveled at Arrieta's work ethic in the gym.

And he expressed gratitude for the kindness and generosity Arrieta has showed him.

“He's bought a lot of my protein shakes,” Williams said.

Time will tell if the Phillies add a starting pitcher to the group that already consists of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and other youngsters. The hunch is they will, though it's unclear what the magnitude of that talent will be. Klentak's search for an arm likely won't stop with the addition of one pitcher and it will likely continue through July. And beyond. The quest to build a championship-caliber staff never stops.

“The pursuit is very real,” Kapler said of Klentak's search for pitching. “I have a lot of trust that we'll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we're better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Rhys Hoskins on 'surreal' rookie year, position switch, expectations

usa-rhys-hoskins.jpg
USA Today Images

Rhys Hoskins on 'surreal' rookie year, position switch, expectations

For a couple of weeks in August, Rhys Hoskins might have been Philadelphia's most popular athlete. Fans marveled at the nightly power display that the young slugger put on in the middle of the Phillies' batting order. Carson Wentz and the Eagles had not yet begun their magnificent season. Hoskins was the man in town.

It hit him one night after a game. He stopped in Center City for some late-night eats. A man and his young son approached. They offered their congratulations and asked for an autograph.

"That's when I was like, 'OK, this might be something that's about to be part of my life,' " Hoskins said. "But it was cool because I used to be that kid."

Hoskins was back in the area Monday night for the 114th Philadelphia Sports Writers Association Dinner. He was honored with a special achievement award for a torrid major league debut in which he clubbed 18 homers and drove in 48 runs in just 50 games last season.

Hoskins was raised in Sacramento, California but moved to San Diego this offseason. His 18 homers in 2017 were the most ever hit by a player who did not make his season debut until after Aug. 1. Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who hit 13 homers after returning from the Korean War in 1953, was the previous record holder.

Williams was a San Diego native.

"Surreal," Hoskins said of that 50-game stretch last season and the buzz that has followed him into the offseason. "Indescribable."

He is now a recognizable face, a signature talent, in a sports-crazy town.

And he's ready for it.

"Enjoy it," he said. "Take it by storm and enjoy it. It's supposed to be fun and that's probably the best approach to take. I think my thought is what happened may never happen again. Tomorrow something might happen. Tomorrow I might never be able to step on a baseball field again. So I think you have to take it by storm and enjoy it.

"If you had asked me a year ago if I would be walking down the streets of Philadelphia and would people recognize me I'd probably laugh at you. But that’s where we are now.

"It's just a testament to how passionate the people of Philadelphia are and how much they love their sports."

Hoskins will report to Clearwater for spring training at the end of this month. He wants to get a head start so he can ramp up his workouts in left field. A first baseman by trade, he began playing the position occasionally last season. He will move there full-time in 2018 as newly signed Carlos Santana takes over at first base.

Hoskins got a 30-game taste of left field last year. He is OK with the move.

"Having Carlos is exciting for the city and exciting for the team," Hoskins said. "We add a guy who has proven himself in this league for five or six years at a very high level so to kind of insert that into the lineup and into the clubhouse, especially with such a young team — I think we're going to feel that exponentially throughout the year.

"Left field is a challenge. It's a challenge that I'm definitely excited about. I started to feel more comfortable out there toward the end of the year.

"I think I can be just fine out there. I'm not necessarily going to be a Gold Glover. I just don’t have the speed that some guys out there do, especially in today's game. But I think I'll be just fine and contribute to the team defensively as much as I can and make the plays that I'm supposed to."

Hoskins will turn 25 on March 17. He projects to bat cleanup in new manager Gabe Kapler's lineup.

"He's energized, intense and thorough," Hoskins said of the new skipper. "He can captivate a room. I'm curious to see how that dynamic works in the clubhouse. I think he's going to be a pretty exciting guy to work with."