Phillies

Adam Morgan gets a fresh start in Phillies' bullpen

Adam Morgan gets a fresh start in Phillies' bullpen

SAN FRANCISCO – The Phillies are trying something new with Adam Morgan.

They are going to give him a look in the bullpen.

“It’s an awesome opportunity,” the 26-year-old left-hander said on Sunday after the Phillies lost to the Giants (see game story). “I need to take advantage of it.”

Morgan has been used exclusively as a starter in his career. That includes 26 big-league starts with the Phillies. But in 11 starts this season, he has a 6.55 ERA, largely because he has had difficulty getting the ball down.

Morgan was dropped from the rotation on Saturday when the club announced that Vince Velasquez would come off the disabled list and pitch Monday night in Arizona (see story). It was unclear whether Morgan would go to Triple A and continue to start or stay with the club and go the bullpen. When the club announced that lefty reliever Elvis Araujo had been shipped to Triple A after Sunday’s game, it became clear that Morgan was staying – in a new role.

“I’ve never done it before, but I will give it a shot,” he said. “I’m excited.”

Morgan can immediately give the Phils multiple innings out of the bullpen, which has run up some miles lately.

“Long man, swing guy,” manager Pete Mackanin said of what Morgan's role in the bullpen would be. “We're going to get a look at him in that role for the time being, which doesn't mean he's never going to start again for us. But at this point, we want to give it a look to see if he can pitch out of the bullpen.

“He has four pitches and he has a good breaking ball and a good change-up for right-handers. I think, having been a starter for all his career, that's just what the doctor ordered when looking for a long man. A guy who throws strikes and has pitches to get both lefties and righties out. He's got it.”

Will this be the move that makes Morgan a successful major leaguer?

Time will tell.

Here's the scoop on Manny Machado's visit to Philly

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Here's the scoop on Manny Machado's visit to Philly

The Manny Machado Free Agent Tour is coming to Philadelphia.

Machado will be in town Thursday for a recruiting visit with Phillies officials, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The trip to Philadelphia is part of a busy week for the star infielder. Chicago-based baseball reporter Bruce Levine has reported that Machado will be in that city to visit with White Sox officials this week and George King of the New York Post reports that Machado will visit the Yankees in New York on Wednesday.

The Phillies have strong interest in signing Machado to be their third baseman. However, landing Machado will not be easy as the player has had a long desire to play for the Yankees. The Yankees could even offer Machado a chance to play shortstop, at least for part of the 2019 season, as Didi Gregorius recovers from elbow surgery. Machado is an elite defensive third baseman, but shortstop is his favorite position.

Though the Phillies favor Machado over Bryce Harper, this winter's other mega free agent, they remain interested and engaged with Harper and pursuit of the outfielder could intensify if they don't land Machado.

Earlier this offseason, the Phillies hosted pitcher Patrick Corbin for a recruiting visit at Citizens Bank Park. He also visited the Yankees and Washington Nationals and ended up signing a six-year deal with Washington.

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Why Andrew Miller would be better for Phillies than Zach Britton

Why Andrew Miller would be better for Phillies than Zach Britton

The Phillies should go get Andrew Miller.

They're pursuing him hard, two sources told Jim Salisbury Wednesday night. We know the Phillies are also after Zach Britton, but if forced to choose between the two, it should be Miller all the way.

Miller, when healthy, is the best left-handed reliever in baseball. From 2014-17, he made 260 appearances and had a 1.72 ERA with 421 strikeouts in 261 innings. There was simply no weakness in his game over those four years. Nobody hit him. Few players homered off him. He had an elite walk rate. Batters from both sides struggled mightily.

Miller's 2018 season was incomplete because of three different injuries to his shoulder, knee and hamstring. In 37 games, he had a 4.24 ERA and every peripheral number was worse. He appeared in two playoff games, allowing three walks and a hit while recording one out.

The biggest consideration is Miller's health. He was recently given a clean bill of health from Mets team doctor David Altchek, who once gave Roy Halladay a second opinion on his shoulder and performed surgery on Sixers legend Andrew Bynum.

If Miller is indeed fully healthy, he would significantly improve the Phillies' ability to prevent runs. A healthy Miller would be closer to that dominant 2014-17 stretch because his repertoire remains the same. 

He still has a funky, whip-like delivery with a low arm slot that deceives hitters and keeps them uncomfortable. Most lefty hitters have no chance.

He still has a mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider. How devastating? From 2014-17, Miller's opponents hit .118 against the slider. They made an out in 550 of the 612 at-bats ending in his slider.

The reasons to like Miller go even beyond that, though. He also has stamina and the willingness to pitch in any role, which Gabe Kapler of all managers would love. Sixth inning, seventh inning, ninth inning, whatever. Miller just wants to pitch in high-leverage situations.

From 2014-17, Miller went more than one inning 61 times. In the 2016 playoffs with the Indians, he went at least two innings seven times. Re-read that sentence. He went at least two innings seven times. There's just no other reliever used this way, except maybe Josh Hader in 2018.

If the Phillies get Miller, the combo of Miller and Seranthony Dominguez would be one of baseball's most unique bullpen duos. They possess different strengths, and it's a good mix of youthful energy and veteran experience.

The addition of Miller would obviously help the Phillies a ton against tough lefties, but he's far from a platoon specialist. From 2013-17, righties hit between .131 and .155 off Miller each season.

Britton is no slouch, but a healthy Miller is better, with more versatility.

What kind of contract might it take? Well, Jeurys Familia found $30 million over three years from the Mets, and Joe Kelly is set to receive $25 million over three years from the Dodgers. Miller is coming off a four-year, $36 million contract with Cleveland. Something like three years, $36 million seems about right this time around.

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