ATLANTA -- Left-hander Hoby Milner will likely get more late-inning relief opportunities over the final seven weeks of the season, manager Pete Mackanin said on Wednesday.
Milner pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Tuesday in the Phillies’ 5-2 win over the Braves. Milner allowed one hit, but retired all three left-handed batters he faced, including Atlanta slugger Freddie Freeman.
“I wanted to see how he does against lefties,” Mackanin said. “It was a three-run game in the eighth inning. My job, as I see it, is to find out if he’s going to be a part of it, if he can do that.”
Left-handed batters are hitting .214 against Milner and right-handers are batting .429 against him. In 13 relief appearances, he’s posted a 3.65 ERA in 12 1/3 innings. He has made three consecutive scoreless appearances.
On Tuesday, Milner allowed a one-out single to right-handed Brandon Phillips, but retired Freeman on a grounder that was nearly turned for a double play. He got cleanup hitter Nick Markakis to ground softly to shortstop to end the inning.
“His command wasn’t exceptional, but he got them out,” Mackanin said. “He got the job done. To me, that’s a good step forward.”
The Phillies are encouraging Milner to start throwing his two-seam fastball against right-handers, an approach he had abandoned.
“He’s got a good two-seam fastball, but he hasn’t been throwing it to right-handers. We can’t figure it out,” Mackanin said. “(Pitching coach Bob) McClure just noticed when he was warming up, that he’s throwing all four-seamers. He threw some [two-seamers Tuesday]. His sinker sinks this much and he wasn’t using it. Maybe that’s going to be a real bonus for him.”
No set plans for Hoskins
The Phillies still haven’t made a decision about if or when to recall slugger Rhys Hoskins, but Mackanin is eager to see what he can do.
“I liked his approach in spring training,” Mackanin said. “I must say that I’m anxious to see him at this level. If the at-bats in the spring were any indication of what he can do, it looks like he can handle it here. But Matt (Klentak, GM) will make that decision and I defer to the people who’ve seen him more than I have.”
Hoskins began playing left field with Triple A Lehigh Valley to help speed his promotion to the major leagues. He’s hitting .280 with 28 homers and 86 RBIs in 114 games.
About that Herrera homer
There was still conversation about Odubel Herrera’s golf-shot homer on Tuesday. According to Statcast, the ball was 0.73 feet off the ground and is the lowest pitch hit for a homer since they began keeping the statistic in 2015.
Mackanin said, “I saw Shawon Dunston hit a ball that bounced for a base hit. He said he was looking for a slider in the dirt. I swear that’s what he said. And he hit it.”