Phillies' promising signs for future on full display in rout of Marlins

Phillies' promising signs for future on full display in rout of Marlins


Pete Mackanin provided an interesting little observation after watching Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins combine to dominate the Miami Marlins in an 8-1 Phillies' victory Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park (see observations).
"That game reminded me of when I was here in '09, '10, '11 — good pitching, good hitting, power, good defense," Mackanin said. "Very reminiscent of when I first arrived."
Those Phillies teams that Mackanin mentioned were some of the best in franchise history. They were all division winners. One of them was a World Series team. Another won a club record 102 games.
Clearly, Mackanin was not saying that this Phillies team was like those Phillies teams. This Phillies team is on a rebuild and will have its hands full avoiding 100 losses.
But out of the rubble of this difficult season rises some hopeful signs for the future and they were on display in this game:
• Nola has put together a solid season. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball and struck out a career-high 11 to notch the win. His ERA in 25 starts is 3.60.
• Odubel Herrera had three hits in the game, including a booming, 424-foot home run to right field. He is batting .371 since June 28.
• Nick Williams came up from Triple A on June 30. He had a pair of hits and an RBI, giving him 48 in 66 games with the big club.
And then there's that Hoskins guy. He has seemingly provided a highlight every day and he did it again in this game with his third homer in two games. He added a sacrifice fly, a walk and a single.
Hoskins, Williams and Nola are all 24. Herrera is 25. Maybe one day they will make up the core of the next championship Phillies team.
"Nola had an outstanding performance," Mackanin said. "I was really happy to see Hoskins come out of his two or three at-bat slump of not hitting a home run. Odubel's home run reminded of a grand slam that Ryan Howard hit to the third deck. These guys are really swinging the bats well. It's good to see Williams and Hoskins solidify the middle of the lineup."
Hoskins has 17 homers in 33 games in the majors. Before coming up, he hit 29 in 115 games at Triple A. That's 46 on the season.
After the game, Hoskins was asked if he ever reaches the point where he surprises himself.
"Yeah, I think so," he said. "I had to give a little look into the dugout and just kind of shrug. I don’t know, it’s fun, especially to win a couple in a row the way that we have. It feels good in the clubhouse, it does.
"Like I've said before, I’m confident in the ability that I have, I really am. And the work that I’m doing before games is putting me in a situation to be successful once the game starts. I know this is not going to last forever. This is baseball, it’s not going to last forever. I’ve just been lucky enough that I’m able to kind of ride this natural wave for what, almost a month now. I’m just going to try to keep riding it as much as I can."
Everybody is talking about Hoskins. Everybody in baseball knows what he's doing. He is hitting .310 with an on-base percentage of .434 and a slugging percentage of .784. He has walked 24 times.
"It's pretty amazing," Nola said. "His approach is so good. If he doesn't hit a home run, he gets a hit. If he doesn't get a hit, he walks. He's definitely sparked this offense.
"I get texts every now and then like, 'Hoskins is unbelievable.' I'm thinking like, 'Yeah, we all know.' The guy is awesome."
Hoskins has even caught the eye of Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' slugger who leads the majors with 54 home runs. They chatted around the first base bag Tuesday night.
Did Stanton tell Hoskins to stop stealing his thunder?
"No, not at all," Hoskins said with a laugh. "He's got all the thunder in baseball right now. He's chasing history."
So what did Stanton tell Hoskins?
“Just kind of keep going," Hoskins said. "Obviously the work is going to need to be there for your whole career. He just kind of reiterated that.
“It was pretty cool. That guy is obviously a star in this game. Especially with the year that he’s having, to be able to share that with him is pretty cool.”
Everyone is sharing in Hoskins' success. The attendance at Citizens Bank Park was just 16,745 on Wednesday night, but the fans loved the show he put on.
The manager liked it, too.
"Actually, I'm going to get his autograph on a ball today," Mackanin said. "It's really outstanding. It's fun to watch."

Brushbacks, hit batsmen, ejections in Phils' spring training game

NBC Sports Philadelphia

Brushbacks, hit batsmen, ejections in Phils' spring training game


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies bring extra pitchers over from the minor-league complex for bullpen depth every game in spring training. For the pitchers, it’s a nice little recognition of a job well done. They often don’t get in the game, but they get to put on a big-league uniform and put a day’s worth of big-league meal money in their pocket.
Parker Frazier got even more than that on Thursday. He not only got in the game. He got ejected.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a spring training game,” Frazier said with a laugh afterward. “I’ll take the first for something.”

Home plate umpire Tom Hallion gave Frazier the boot for hitting Detroit’s Derek Hill with a pitch in the eighth inning of a 6-2 loss. Frazier hit Hill with an off-speed pitch, so it clearly was not intentional. But Hallion had already issued warnings to both benches after Zach Eflin had hit Jose Iglesias and Detroit’s Matthew Boyd came in close twice against Odubel Herrera. In addition to Frazier, Hallion also ejected Phillies reliever Pedro Beato for hitting a batter in the ninth. Manager Gabe Kapler and bench coach Rob Thomson were ejected with Frazier and Beato, respectively.

It made for a crazy scene, especially in a spring training game.

Herrera believed that Boyd intentionally threw at him as retaliation for Iglesias getting hit. Boyd at first threw over Herrera’s head as Herrera tried to call timeout. He then came inside on Herrera. Herrera sidestepped the pitch and took first with a walk.

“He can’t hit me,” a defiant Herrera said afterward. “I’m too quick.”

Frazier definitely wasn’t trying to hit Hill, not with a slider.

“It was a slider that didn’t slide,” he joked.

Frazier is the 29-year-old son of former big-league pitcher George Frazier. He’s a career minor leaguer who has been in pro ball since 2007 and pitched in the Rockies, Reds, White Sox, A’s and Diamondbacks organizations. He pitched the last three seasons in independent ball and is in Phillies camp for the first time.

Frazier’s fiancee and future in-laws were in from Oklahoma for the game. They expected to see him pitch at the minor-league complex, but instead got to see him experience an eventful day in big-league camp.

After being ejected, Frazier returned to the clubhouse. A text from his fiancee awaited him.

“They wanted to know what happened,” he said. “I told them accidental hit pitch.”

Kapler wouldn't discuss what he said to Hallion after Frazier's ejection. He said he would respect the umpire's decision because those are the rules.

But Kapler made it clear that he didn’t believe his pitchers were trying to hit anyone.

“We have a minor leaguer in the game and he’s just trying to make a good impression,” Kapler said. “He threw a slider that backed up and hit somebody. Beato is also trying to make a club and make a good impression. There’s no reason to not throw strikes. Balls will get away. It’s part of the game.”

Arrieta comes out strong, but Kapler remains vague on timetable

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Arrieta comes out strong, but Kapler remains vague on timetable

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Ever since Jake Arrieta flew into town on Air Middleton and raised expectations for 2018, Phillies officials have said they would take a methodical approach with getting him ready for the regular season.

The Phils followed that plan in holding Arrieta to two innings and 31 pitches in the right-hander’s hotly anticipated spring debut against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

“We had a very specific pitch count in mind and we feel like we executed the innings and the pitch count to a T,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We did not want to push the envelope at all. There’s no reason to. We’re focused on the long view.”

Arrieta struck out the first two batters of the game then allowed a solo home run to two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, a double, a single and another run over the balance of his outing. He had hoped to go three innings, but understands the team’s plan.

“I'm on board with what these guys intend to do,” said the 32-year-old pitcher, who signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phils last week. “I know they have my health and the team's success over the long haul in mind. That's the most important thing moving forward.”

Kapler liked what he saw from Arrieta.

“It was a real positive outing,” he said. “We wanted to see health and strength. We saw both of those things and he threw strikes.”

Twenty-two of Arrieta’s 31 pitches were strikes.

Arrieta’s arm strength was impressive. He touched 95 mph on the stadium radar gun. He also threw several fastballs that registered 94. His fastball velocity had been a concern as it dropped from 94.9 mph in his Cy Young season of 2015 to 92.6 mph last season, according to PITCHf/x data.

“My timing and my delivery were nice,” Arrieta said. “The ball was coming out of my hand good. Even though I'm not particularly worried about velocity, the velocity was nice today. Sinking fastball was really good. I threw some good curveballs. The cutter wasn't necessarily great, along with the changeup. But those will come with repetition.”

Arrieta said he had “a ton of nervous energy” before the start.

“Now that it's over, I take a deep breath and I remember what it feels like to be in a game situation,” he said. “Umpires, crowd. It felt great. I'm healthy. The ball is coming out good. To get the first one out of the way — even though it is a little bit later — it's a good sign.”

Kapler continued to play things close to the vest with Arrieta’s timetable. What is clear, however, is that Arrieta will get one more start in Florida before camp breaks on Tuesday. He could build to around 50 pitches in that one and be ready to start in New York on April 2, 3 or 4. If the Phils decide that Arrieta needs two more outings to prepare for the regular season, he could debut on April 7 at home against Miami. Either way, he lines up to make 30-plus starts.