Phillies

Phillies trade Joaquin Benoit and cash to Pirates at deadline

Phillies trade Joaquin Benoit and cash to Pirates at deadline

The Phillies made one final move just before Monday's 4 p.m. trade deadline, trading right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit and cash to the Pirates for 23-year-old pitcher Seth McGarry.

Benoit, 40, signed with the Phillies as a free agent in the winter. He posted a 4.07 ERA in 42 innings with 43 strikeouts and 16 walks. The production was underwhelming, but Benoit still had some trade value because of his lengthy track record of success.

"Joaquin was a very steadying influence in our whole bullpen," GM Matt Klentak said. "Last offseason, when we were looking to add to our bullpen, we targeted Joaquin from the very beginning, knowing this guy had a track record of consistency and that's exactly what he delivered this year. We're all very appreciative for what he brought to us this year. Now we turn the page and for the last two months of the year, we get to see a lot more young players play. Those young players have been really playing well for the last couple of weeks, as evidenced by the sweep here (of the Braves)."

The veteran reliever has been used in a bevy of roles for the Phillies. Benoit began the season as the setup man before moving into the closer's role and then back into a setup role. He also has pitched in the sixth and seventh innings. After his worst outing of the season against the Mariners on May 10, Benoit complained about the lack of roles in the Phillies' bullpen.

Benoit is the fourth player Klentak traded in the last week (see deadline review). The Phillies traded Pat Neshek to Colorado last Wednesday and Howie Kendrick to the Nationals and Jeremy Hellickson to the Orioles last Friday night.

McGarry, a 2015 eighth-round draft pick by Pittsburgh, has a 1.34 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 40 1/3 innings this season pitching for the Pirates' Single A affiliate, the Bradenton Marauders.

"Seth McGarry was pitching in High A this year. He's having a really good year and one of the things we're really excited about is he has a 73 percent groundball rate," Klentak said. "So I think he's a guy that will fit in very well in our system. He's another player that does not need to be protected in the Rule 5 draft this year, which is a positive for us.

"We're excited about the return in all four of these trades. I think we added some pretty good arms and a good infielder, and you guys got to see (Hyun Soo) Kim's approach at the plate today. He's got a pretty good, patient approach up there. But any chance we get to add depth in the pitching department into our system, we're going to look to do that. ... This is part of something that successful organizations do, they continue to replenish their system and they look for opportunities to add talent and that's what we've done here over the last week."

Klentak did not close the door on any August trades, but it seems unlikely the Phillies make any other moves aside from perhaps trading Daniel Nava. Trades are more complicated in August — a team can only shop a player to the whole league if that player first clears waivers. Guys like Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Cameron Rupp would be unlikely to clear waivers because they're relatively young and inexpensive. If a player gets claimed in August, he can only be traded to that team, which would greatly limit the Phillies' leverage.

CSNPhilly.com's Tom Dougherty contributed to this story.

Despite loss in finale, Phillies finish with successful road trip

Despite loss in finale, Phillies finish with successful road trip

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies won four out of six games on their road trip through the South and manager Gabe Kapler was happy with that. He said so in word after Wednesday night’s trip-ending, 7-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park (see first take). He said so in action in the eighth inning.

“All in all, you go on the road and you go 4-2, you feel good coming home,” Kapler said. “That's the biggest positive from this. We're going to go home stronger than when we left on this road trip. It's not an easy thing to do in baseball. I'm proud of our guys for doing that.”

Kapler’s satisfaction with the trip was evident even before the game ended. Lefty specialist Hoby Milner entered the game with one out in the eighth inning and the Phils down by two runs. His job, ostensibly, was to retire lefty hitters Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. He retired neither. Up came right-handed hitting Kurt Suzuki. The situation screamed for a right-hander but Kapler stuck with Milner and he allowed an RBI single as the Braves pulled away with three runs in the inning to salt the game away.

Entering the game, Milner had allowed a .375 batting average (21 for 56) to right-handed hitters and a .158 (12 for 76) average to lefty hitters for his career. Despite this, Kapler did not even have a right-hander up in the bullpen. In fact, no one was up. Kapler indicated that he had faith that Milner could get the job done.

But there was more to it, as well.

“At that point it was time to look, in part, to save our bullpen,” Kapler said. “That was the right time to save our bullpen and put them in a good position to succeed going forward.”

Kapler’s thinking was not unheard. Ask any manager and he’ll tell you, some nights you have give the bullpen a break, take one step back for the chance to take two forward in subsequent days, and that’s just what Kapler did. After all, the ‘pen did pick up five innings the night before. But the flip side to this was the Phils were down only two runs with the middle of the order due up in the ninth. Keep the difference at two runs and maybe you can rally. Five runs — different story.

All this made one wonder if Kapler didn’t believe his offense could pull it out in the ninth.

“We always have full confidence that the guy on the mound can get outs,” Kapler said. “So this, at least, was as much about our belief in Hoby to be able to get outs in that situation, and, also, preserve arms in the bullpen. And, also, we believe in our offense to be able to come back and put a big number up. Always.”

The Phils ended up scoring a run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. Vince Velasquez gave up a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth when he allowed a walk, a single and a three-run homer to new Phillie killer Ryan Flaherty. The Braves were in control the rest of the way. They have beaten the Phillies in four of six meetings this season.

Phillies end road trip with loss to Braves

Phillies end road trip with loss to Braves

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — Ryan Flaherty spent spring training with the Phillies on a minor-league contract. He hit .351 with three doubles, a homer and eight RBIs. He played in the infield and the outfield. Flaherty did enough to win a spot on the Phillies’ opening day roster, but was a victim of a numbers crunch so the team granted him his release in the final week of camp. 

In need of some help at third base after Johan Camargo went down with an oblique injury, the Braves signed Flaherty to a big-league deal and installed him as their opening day third baseman.

All Flaherty has done since joining the Braves is hit. He entered Wednesday hitting .354, fifth best in the majors and .130 points better than his career average. He’s been especially tough on the Phillies. He swatted a three-run home run Wednesday night and the Phillies never recovered in a 7-3 loss at SunTrust Park. Flaherty also had an RBI single in the game.

In six games against the Phillies this season, Flaherty has 11 hits, including three doubles and a homer. Despite Flaherty’s strong start, the Braves appear to be making other plans at third base. Camargo came off the disabled list on Wednesday and the team also signed veteran Jose Bautista with the intention of looking at him at third base when he’s ready to go.

Flaherty’s three-run home run came against Vince Velasquez in the fifth inning.

Velasquez had helped himself with an RBI single in the top of the fifth to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. But the right-hander let the lead get away quickly when he allowed a leadoff walk, a single and Flaherty’s three-run homer all with no outs in the bottom of the inning.

Flaherty hit a first-pitch fastball that registered 94 mph.

Those were the only runs that Velasquez allowed in six innings of work. He struck out seven and walked one. That walk became a run.

Braves starter Brandon McCarthy held the Phillies to one run over 5 1/3 innings.

The Phillies ended up losing two out of three in the series and are 2-4 against the Braves on the season. The Phils did not do a lot of scoring in this series. They lost the opener, 2-1. They won the second game, 5-1, but scored four of their runs in the 10th inning. They scored just three runs in the finale.

They probably would have had one more run if it weren’t for Ender Inciarte. The Braves’ defensive whiz centerfielder rose above the wall in left-center to steal a home run away from Scott Kingery in the first inning. Inciarte, like Flaherty, was once Phillies property, a former Rule 5 pick that the club chose not to keep around.