Phillies-Mets observations: Nick Pivetta hit hard in rain-shortened loss

Phillies-Mets observations: Nick Pivetta hit hard in rain-shortened loss


NEW YORK — Rookie right-hander Nick Pivetta was hit hard in the Phillies' 6-3 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday night.
The game was ended in the sixth inning after a 57-minute rain delay.
The Mets ended up taking two of three from the Phillies and have taken 18 of the last 21 series between the two teams. The Mets are 37-17 against the Phils since the start of the 2015 season.

• For only the second time since May 27, the Phillies entered a game without the worst record in the majors. Tuesday's win gave them a winning percentage of .384. The San Francisco Giants entered the day at .383.
• Pivetta has a good arm. He's one of hardest throwers on the roster. But like many young pitchers on this club, he throws too many pitches — period — and too many over the heart of the plate. He was tagged for 10 hits and six runs over five innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out five. Pivetta has shown flashes of brilliance this season. There's something there. It just needs refinement. In a perfect world, he would have had more time at Triple A this season. But he was pressed into duty in the big leagues and has a 6.49 ERA in 22 starts. He should be better for the experience next season.
• The Phillies trailed, 6-0, after five innings. They cut the Mets' lead in half with three runs in the top of the sixth, two on a two-run homer by Nick Williams in the top of the sixth. It was the rookie's ninth homer and he hit it good — a 403-foot laser over the wall in right-center.
• Earlier in the day, the Phillies traded recently acquired reliever Juan Nicasio to the Cardinals for minor-league infield prospect Eliezer Alvarez, 22 (see story). Baseball America ranked Alvarez as the Cardinals' 10th-best prospect entering the season. Nicasio's time with the Phillies was brief as he was picked up on waivers from Pittsburgh last week. He made two appearances with the Phils and needed just three pitches to earn the win in his first one. "I was going to say he's available today — but not to me," manager Pete Mackanin quipped before the game. "He came in, threw three pitches, got a win and left." The Phillies made a good deal here. They got him for a $50,000 waiver fee and a week of salary. He wasn't in their plans for next season, so they spun him for a player that has some upside and could fit into the rebuild. The loser is the Pirates. They had tried to trade Nicasio but pulled him off revocable waivers when a rival team claimed him. Then they put him in irrevocable waivers and the Phillies claimed him. So the Pirates ended up getting nothing for him while the Phillies picked up a player with a chance.
• Much of the game was played in a chilly rain. The crowd was so small you could hear the infielders snap their gum. As the rain fell steadily in the middle of the sixth inning, the head of the grounds crew brought a computer tablet out to the field so the umpires could get a look at the weather radar. The umpires called for the tarp moments later.
• Odubel Herrera was not in the lineup. He was scheduled to have the day off as part of his recovery from a hamstring strain. He had returned to the lineup on Tuesday. Herrera is scheduled to play the next two games then get another day off before being turned loose. As for Aaron Altherr, also recovering from a hamstring strain: Wet grounds pregame prevented him from going through a scheduled base-running test. He hopes to be able to go through the test Thursday in Washington and get some playing time later on this weekend.
• Cameron Rupp did the catching, but before the game Mackanin admitted, "I need to see (Jorge) Alfaro more." So look for Alfaro to get an increase in action as the Phillies get him ready for next season. Alfaro is out of minor-league options and could be the Phils' primary catcher in April.
• The Phillies move on to Washington for four against the postseason-bound Nationals on Thursday night. Here are the pitching matchups:
Thursday night — RHP Aaron Nola (10-10, 3.72) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (11-9, 4.48)
Friday night — RHP Jake Thompson (1-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (13-5, 2.19)
Saturday night — RHP Mark Leiter Jr. (2-5, 4.74) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (5-4, 3.29)
Sunday afternoon — RHP Ben Lively (3-5, 3.92) vs. TBA.

Source: Phillies finalizing 2-year deal with Tommy Hunter

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Source: Phillies finalizing 2-year deal with Tommy Hunter

Matt Klentak keeps adding to his bullpen.

The Phillies are finalizing a two-year deal with reliever Tommy Hunter, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury on Tuesday night.

The experienced right-hander will join veteran righty Pat Neshek, who is on the verge of re-signing with the Phillies, multiple sources said on Monday (see story).

Hunter, 31, has played for five teams over parts of 10 seasons. In 61 games (58 2/3 innings) with the Rays in 2017, Hunter posted career bests with a 2.61 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and .202 opponents' batting average, to go with 64 strikeouts and 14 walks. He started his career as a starter after he was taken in the first round of the 2007 draft by the Rangers. Since 2013, he has come out of the bullpen, compiling a 3.12 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

Hunter and Neshek will complement an already promising group of Hector Neris, Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos and Hoby Milner.

"I think if we can run out a bullpen of seven or eight guys that are all high-leverage type arms, then we can start matching up in the fifth or sixth inning," Klentak said Monday at the winter meetings. "If there are days when our young starters throw 100 pitches to get us through five or six innings, we shouldn't be in a position where that’s taxing our bullpen because we have the ability to carry an eighth bullpen member next year. We shouldn’t be in a position where we lose our competitiveness in the sixth inning because we should have a deep bullpen where we start throwing really good players out there early in the game. If it turns out that’s the best way for us to improve our run prevention, then that’s the way to do."

Phillies seem content to wait on Manny Machado, pursue him as free agent next year

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Phillies seem content to wait on Manny Machado, pursue him as free agent next year

Updated: 9:50 p.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Baltimore Orioles are shopping Manny Machado for a trade.

The Phillies love Machado.

So the Phils will do the deal, right?

It's not that simple.

Machado remained a hot topic on Day 2 of the winter meetings Tuesday and the lobby buzz made it all the way to the Phillies' war room. General manager Matt Klentak would not take questions about any specific players — that would be a tampering violation — but he was posed with a scenario that would reflect Machado's situation.

Machado, 25, will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Therefore, he is under contractual control for just one more season.

So, Klentak was asked whether he would be willing to give up a slew of young talent — that's what it would take to get Machado — for a player under control only for a short period of time.

Klentak mulled the question. He covered all sides in his answer. But in the end, it sure sounded as if he would not be willing to pay the price to trade for a player like Machado. It sounded as if he'd rather roll the dice that Machado became a free agent in a year then try to get him for just money and not prospects.

"It obviously becomes more attractive to us if a player is under control for future years, plural," Klentak said. "If it’s a one-year contract before free agency, it’s less attractive. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t do it. I realize these are less notable players than what you’re suggesting, but we’ve done that with some bullpen and starting pitcher additions the past couple years to acquire a player on a one-year deal. It really depends on what the return is, what would we have to give up in exchange for that player, whether that makes sense to acquire a player on a short-term contract. The years of control matter.

"I think we have to be open-minded to those scenarios, but the scenario you outlined presents some challenges that make it less likely. But we’re open-minded to just about everything."

Any team that acquires Machado, a slugging left-side infielder, this winter would have to be granted a 72-hour window from the Commissioner's Office to hammer out a contract extension before the deal is consummated. Even then, the deal would cost a team prospects and money. Look for the Phillies to stay in touch with the Orioles and monitor their asking price throughout the winter. But clearly, the Phillies prefer to hold on to as many of their young core players and prospects as they can as they seek to acquire players who would propel them closer to the top of the National League East.

This doesn't mean the Phillies would not be willing to subtract a young player or two for the right talent. The Phillies are looking for starting pitching and sources say they've investigated the possibility of acquiring young, under-control pitchers such as Chris Archer of the Rays and Michael Fulmer of the Tigers.

The Phillies are likely to add starting pitching through a trade, possibly one that involves shortstop Freddy Galvis or second baseman Cesar Hernandez. A person with a club from a team seeking a second baseman was asked about Hernandez on Tuesday. The person said the Phillies were being more aggressive in their efforts to move Galvis than they were Hernandez. That does not mean Hernandez will not be traded. The Phillies have set an extremely high price on him because he has three more years of contractual control and that is very valuable.

The Phillies' need for starting pitching and their deep pockets have led to a connection to free-agent Jake Arrieta. The Phillies, as is winter meetings custom, met with Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, but it's highly unlikely they would sign the pitcher because he will be 32 next season and word is he is seeking a deal that could approach $200 million. The Phillies don't believe they are far enough along in their rebuild to commit those dollars and the years it would take to get Arrieta. So don't hold your breath on that one (see story). If Arrieta is still out there in February and his price tag came way down, well, check back then.

"We've spent the last day and a half meeting with most of the prominent agents in the industry — a lot of agents represent players we're targeting and players we're not targeting — and I can understand why sometimes the connection will get made that may not be perfectly accurate," Klentak said. 

"We're very cognizant of the fact that we're a large-market team that has carried large payrolls in the past and does not have a lot of future commitments. We know this about ourselves, the agents know this about us, the fans know this about us. I think it's natural to connect the Phillies to players who are going to command a lot of money. 

"I've said this before: There will come a time where those connections will be accurate and we will spend again. For where we are right now, we are very committed to giving the reps to our young players and it would take a pretty special set of circumstances for us to deviate from that."

Klentak wants to improve the Phillies' "run prevention." It would be nice to add a starting pitcher — you can pretty much bet the Phillies will — but run prevention can also be addressed in the bullpen. Klentak suggested it was likely that the team would add another veteran reliever beyond Pat Neshek in the coming days (see story), and it is as the Phillies are finalizing a two-year deal with right-hander Tommy Hunter, according to a source Tuesday (see story).