Phillies

Young Phillies end trip with valuable lesson from Stephen Strasburg in loss to Nationals

Young Phillies end trip with valuable lesson from Stephen Strasburg in loss to Nationals

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WASHINGTON — While the Washington Nationals gear up for the postseason over these final three weeks of the regular season, the Phillies remain in full development mode.
 
So maybe it was a good thing for both teams that Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg was on top of his game Sunday afternoon.
 
Strasburg pitched the Nats to the National League East title in a 3-2 win over the Phillies (see observations). And while Strasburg was completely dominant in pitching eight shutout innings and striking out 10, the Phillies' young hitters got a chance to familiarize themselves with the type of elite pitching they'll one day have to beat if they want to ascend to the top of the division.

There's some value in that.
 
"You want to throw guys right into the fire and let them know what they're up against," manager Pete Mackanin said after the game.
 
"Strasburg had his best stuff today. It's good for those young guys to see him."
 
Seven of Strasburg's strikeouts came against Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams and J.P. Crawford, three of the young building blocks that have recently joined the Phillies' lineup. They will be better for the experience of seeing Strasburg's high 90s fastball, his knee-buckling breaking ball and his killer changeup.
 
"He was on today," Crawford said. "He mixed it up and commanded it. He's not afraid to throw his off-speed stuff 2-2 or 3-2. Props to him. He shut us down."
 
Strasburg is on a terrific roll. He has not allowed a run in his last four starts, running his scoreless innings streak to 34, a Montreal/Washington franchise record.
 
Despite Strasburg's excellence, the Phillies were in this game. In fact, the loss was their 35th by one run, tying a team record. Overall, the Phillies have 89 losses with 19 games to play.
 
The Phils were in this game because rookie right-hander Ben Lively continued to impress with his competitiveness, willingness to attack hitters and ability to command his fastball. He became the only Phillies pitcher not named Aaron Nola to pitch into the eighth inning this season. He finished with eight innings of three-run ball. He walked one and struck out seven.
 
"He pitched extremely well," Mackanin said. "That was our first complete game of the year. It was nice not to have to go to the bullpen."
 
Pitching against a red-hot Strasburg, Lively could afford no mistakes. He made just a couple in allowing two runs in the sixth inning and another in the bottom of the eighth inning. Trea Turner tripled and scored the Nats' first run in the sixth. He then homered in the eighth to give the Nats a 3-0 lead.
 
"Two bad pitches and that was the ballgame," Lively said. "The first slider I hung all day was in that last inning. I'd rather get my teeth kicked in than lose a game like that."
 
Lively, 25, has a 3.86 ERA in 12 starts. He has pitched at least six innings and allowed three or fewer earned runs in nine of those starts. He does a lot of it with command, deception and competitiveness as he does not possess a fastball that lights up radar guns. He has put himself in line to bid for a starting spot next spring.
 
"I hope so," he said. "I've been pitching my ass off. I always pitch my ass off. That's how I always am and nothing is going to change."
 
Lively has a fan in Mackanin.
 
"There's always the discussion about what's more important, velocity, deception, movement, location," Mackanin said. "A lot of people will say velocity but that's not the case for me. Location, movement and deception are just as important if not more important, and if you locate with lesser stuff you can be just as successful. We've seen many pitchers in the majors who are like that."
 
The Nationals will be a tough team to reckon with in the postseason. With Max Scherzer (2.32), Gio Gonzalez (2.50) and Strasburg (2.64), they have the second-, third- and fourth-best ERAs in the NL, and the July acquisitions of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle have bolstered the bullpen. Of course, they still need to get Bryce Harper healthy and there's optimism they will.
 
Madson was called on to protect a 3-0 lead in the ninth inning Sunday. He sputtered a little and allowed three hits and two runs (his first in 13 innings with the Nats) before closing the door on the Phils. Williams drove in the Phillies' two runs in that inning with a base hit.
 
The Phillies finished the 11-game road trip with five wins and six losses, and Williams had 15 RBIs on the trip, giving him 45 in his first 64 big-league games. For a developing team, that was a positive. Lively's recent work has been a positive, too.

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.