Phillies-Mets thoughts: 25 games with a prospect-packed lineup

Phillies-Mets thoughts: 25 games with a prospect-packed lineup

Phillies (52-85) at Mets (59-78)
7:10 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on and the NBC Sports App

Four years and three months after being drafted in the middle of the first round by the Phillies, J.P. Crawford is set for his major-league debut.

The Phillies officially added Crawford to the 40-man roster and called him up Tuesday as they continue their three-game series at Citi Field against the Mets. To make room on the 40, Pedro Florimon (right ankle dislocation) was transferred to the 60-day DL. 

Crawford will see some time at shortstop and third base as the Phillies gauge his readiness for 2018. It will help them evaluate their crowded infield this winter to figure out who needs to be traded. After all, it seems very unlikely that by the midpoint of 2018, all of Freddy Galvis, Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez, Crawford and Scott Kingery are in the same organization.

• It shouldn't be difficult to guess who leads the Phillies in pitches seen per plate appearance. It's Rhys Hoskins at 4.48. The closest player to him is Cameron Rupp at 4.14.

Hoskins on Monday went 0 for 3 but walked twice and saw 35 pitches in the five plate appearances. Even when he's not hitting for power, he provides value by working deep counts and taking his walks. Hoskins is hitting .307 with a .419 OBP and has 15 walks to 18 strikeouts. 

You really have to go back to Jayson Werth in 2010 to find the last Phillie who had both power and plate selection.

Ben Lively makes start No. 11 of his rookie season. He's 2-5 with a 4.22 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, but he's allowed three earned runs or less in eight of his 10 starts. In half of the 10 starts, he's allowed two earned runs or less.

Lively last faced the Mets on June 30 at Citi Field and allowed two runs over 6⅓ innings in a 2-1 Phillies loss. 

Lively's avoidance of the home run ball has allowed him to have success recently. He's allowed four homers in his last five starts but all four of them were in the same game against the Cubs. When you're not giving up home runs and you're limiting the walks, you can get away with having middling stuff. 

• The Phillies have quite a challenge ahead of them tonight in Mets ace Jacob deGrom. If Crawford starts tonight, he'll be debuting against deGrom just like Hoskins did in August.

In 10 career starts against the Phillies, deGrom is 6-0 with a 2.10 ERA and .203 opponents' batting average. He's struck out 68, walked 12 and allowed just four homers in 64⅓ innings.

In a season where everything has gone wrong for the Mets, deGrom has been the silver lining. He's 14-8 with a 3.43 ERA and has already set a career high with 206 strikeouts.

• The Phillies are 22-49 against the Mets since 2014. That .310 winning percentage is their second-worst against any NL opponent over that span. They're 8-20 (.286) vs. the Pirates.

• The Phillies have to like what they've seen offensively the last few weeks from Jorge Alfaro. After yet another hard-hit single up the middle on Monday, Alfaro is hitting .340 through 56 plate appearances this season.

Nick Williams is 5 for 29 over his last seven games but did drive in five runs Saturday and Sunday in Miami.

In 58 games, Williams has hit .271 with 23 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs and an .800 OPS. Practically any knowledgeable Phillies fan would have signed up for those numbers when Williams was called up on June 30.

Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

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Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Spectrum Field was sold out, filled with fans clad in green and smeared with sunblock for a game against the Atlanta Braves on a festive St. Paddy’s Day.
But the main event Saturday took place several hundred yards away at the minor-league complex, two hours before the big-league game even began.
Five days after signing a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies, Jake Arrieta climbed atop a mound and threw a 31-pitch (two-inning) simulated game. Scott Kingery, Jorge Alfaro, Logan Moore and Andrew Pullin were the hitters. Andrew Knapp was the catcher. Players, coaches, minor-league instructors and manager Gabe Kapler all peeked in. Dozens of fans hugged the chain-link fence to get a look at the newest Phillie. They applauded when Arrieta took the mound and again when he finished.
“It was great,” the 32-year-old pitcher said moments after the workout ended. “There’s a lot of people out here. A lot of people are excited for the Phillies in 2018. We’ve got a lot of good things going on here. A lot of guys are healthy and competing, there’s a lot of youth. It’s a really fun time to be in this organization.”
Arrieta said he felt “really good physically,” not a surprise because he came into camp in terrific shape and had gotten to over 60 pitches in bullpen sessions back home in Austin, Texas. He threw all his pitches, including a couple of knee-buckling curveballs. He broke two of Alfaro’s bats, one with a sinker, one with a cutter.
“My goal was to throw everything in the arsenal for strikes and throw my off-speed pitches in and out of the zone where I could get some chases,” Arrieta said.
Arrieta did allow some contact, mostly ground balls.
Arrieta won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Cubs. He won 22 games and had a 1.77 ERA that season.
A deceptive delivery is one of Arrieta’s strengths. He throws across his body and that crossfire action makes it difficult for a hitter to pick up the ball.
“It’s extremely deceptive,” Kingery said. “Every pitch is extremely deceptive. That’s what hit me. His curveball looks like it’s coming at your head then it drops.”
Arrieta is still hoping to be ready for the first week of the regular season, but the Phillies have not formulated a firm game plan. One thing is certain: They won’t rush him. They want him for the long haul. They could hold him back 10 days or so, allowing him to build more arm strength, and he’d still make 30 starts.
Arrieta expects to throw a bullpen session in the next day or two and try to get up around 60 pitches in his next outing. That could be in a minor-league game or in another simulated game.
“As long as we continue to get my pitch count up, I think I’ll be fine going into the season,” he said.

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.