Phillies

Freddy Galvis not in Phillies' starting lineup for 1st time in 2017

Freddy Galvis not in Phillies' starting lineup for 1st time in 2017

WASHINGTON — After starting all 140 of the Phillies' previous games this season, shortstop Freddy Galvis was out of the lineup Friday night.

Galvis sat to accommodate rookie J.P. Crawford. The Phillies’ brass wants to evaluate Crawford's readiness for a possible role in April. Crawford played the previous three games at third base. He is expected to play second base on Saturday night with Galvis returning to shortstop.

Galvis' goal of starting all 162 games is dead.

Difficult?

"A little bit," Galvis said. "But it's baseball. You have to understand baseball. It's September. You know what's going on. I just try to play hard and do my best."

Manager Pete Mackanin had hoped to accommodate Galvis' desire to start all 162 games and also get a look at Crawford at shortstop five or six times this month. Mackanin's plan was to use Galvis in the outfield when Crawford played shortstop. Galvis played a game in center field during the Phillies' last homestand, but came down with a bit of a sore arm afterward.

"My arm didn't feel too good," he said. "I'll stay at shortstop now until the end of the season."

Mackanin said he would try to get Galvis into every game by using him as a pinch hitter.

"I think I can do that," Mackanin said.

Mackanin added, "I'd like to see Freddy win the Gold Glove this year. I think he deserves it. I thought he deserved it last year."

San Francisco's Brandon Crawford won the NL Gold Glove at shortstop the last two seasons.

It's not every day that a 27-year-old, Gold Glove-caliber shortstop is not considered a team's shortstop of the future. But this is where the Phillies are at the moment. Though gifted defensively, Galvis does not have the on-base skills that this Phillies front office yearns for. His career on-base percentage is just .286. Crawford has a career on-base mark of .368 in the minors. Phillies officials have not closed the door on Galvis, but they want to see if Crawford can be the guy at the position next season. If they believe he can be, the Phils are expected to shop Galvis for a trade. If not, Galvis will be the guy again next season, his last before free agency.

General manager Matt Klentak has many decisions to make in the infield this winter. Rhys Hoskins is expected to play first base next season with Tommy Joseph going on the trading block. Both Galvis and second baseman Cesar Hernandez could be shopped. (The Phils have a second baseman coming in Scott Kingery. He could arrive a month or so into the 2018 season.) The Phils would listen to offers for third baseman Maikel Franco, though his value is down after a poor season. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Crawford could play third next season. There are a lot of ways the Phils could go.

"There’s been a lot of speculation about our infield and how do you make room for all these players," Klentak said. "That’s something we’re continuing to gather information on right now to help us make that decision. It’s something I’m sure we’ll field plenty of [trade] inquiries throughout the offseason. We’ll just have to see where that takes us. It’s certainly not the end of the world to go into next year with all of these infielders we currently have in the organization. We can make that work. But if there’s an opportunity to utilize that depth to help us in other areas, then we’ll consider that as well."

Klentak added that it was too early to say where Crawford would play in the future, though it sounds like he will be the guy at short.

"It's four days into his major-league career," Klentak said. "I don't want to project too much on his positional future. But I think we've seen enough over the course of his minor-league career to know he's a major-league shortstop. He can play defense at the major-league level. We've seen over the last couple of weeks in the minor leagues and the first few days in the big leagues, he's got pretty good instincts at third base, too. The fact that we have a talented young player that can play multiple spots, it opens a lot of doors for us.

"There's no one way to win a game or to build a winning team. If we have more players that can do more things, that should bode well for the organization."

Another series win for Phillies during unlikely June turnaround

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Another series win for Phillies during unlikely June turnaround

BOX SCORE 

Remember all that talk about the Phillies' grueling June schedule?

They're meeting the challenge.

After Saturday's 5-3 win over the Nationals, the Phillies are 9-3 in their last 12 games and have won four straight series over the Rockies, Brewers, Cardinals and Nats.

On May 28, the Phillies embarked upon a 32-game stretch during which the worst team they'd face was a game under .500. The Phils are 24 games into that stretch and have gone 12-12. 

They opened June by losing seven of eight games yet have worked their way to 10-10 on the month.

At 41-33, the Phillies are 1½ games behind the Braves and 1½ ahead of the Nationals.

Nola bounces back

After failing to complete five innings for the first time in 36 starts last Sunday in Milwaukee, Aaron Nola rebounded and held the Nationals in check over six strong innings.

Nola allowed a pair of runs with two outs in the first and a leadoff single to Wilmer Difo in the second, then the Nationals went 0 for 14 against him the rest of the way. 

Nola is 9-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 16 starts this season. In 12 of them, he's allowed two runs or less.

Franco's big day

Huge afternoon for Maikel Franco, who went 4 for 4 with three singles and a double.

Franco scored in the second to tie the game, scored in the seventh to put the Phillies ahead and drove in a run in the eighth to give them a three-run cushion.

Both times he crossed home plate, he barely scored after aggressive sends from third-base coach Dusty Wathan — one on an RBI single from Nola, the other on a sac fly from Jesmuel Valentin. On the game-winning, seventh-inning sac fly, Bryce Harper caught the ball with his momentum coming toward the plate and fired home but Franco narrowly eluded catcher Spencer Kieboom's tag. The Nationals challenged but the call was upheld.

Thievery

The Nationals went 1 for 2 stealing bases against Nola, who has been on the mound for more steals (14) and attempts (18) than any pitcher in the majors this season.

Wilmer Difo swiped second in the second, but Jorge Alfaro ended the fifth inning by nailing Harper. Alfaro has thrown out 14 base stealers to lead the majors.

Going away from Altherr

Nick Williams got another start at right field and went 1 for 3 with a double.

Since June 10, Nick Williams has started nine games and Aaron Altherr has started two.

Altherr has just 20 at-bats in the Phillies' last 11 games.

Hard to argue with how Gabe Kapler is divvying up the playing time. Altherr is still hitting just .180 through 211 plate appearances, while Williams has hit .263 with an .833 OPS since May 1.

It was also telling that with the game tied and a man on third with one out in the seventh inning, Kapler opted to use Valentin instead of Altherr to pinch-hit for Nola.

Up next

The Phillies are on Sunday Night Baseball for the first time since Aug. 4, 2013.

They face the Nationals on ESPN at 8:07 p.m. with Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.08) opposing Jefry Rodriguez (0-0, 4.66).

Pivetta allowed six runs while lasting just one inning when he last faced the Nats here on May 4. Without that game, his season ERA would be 3.45.

Rodriguez is making his second career start. He allowed five runs in five innings and was taken deep twice Tuesday vs. the Orioles.

So ... what do the Phillies do when Jerad Eickhoff's ready to go?

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So ... what do the Phillies do when Jerad Eickhoff's ready to go?

WASHINGTON — Saturday was an important step in the right direction for Jerad Eickhoff.

Eickhoff threw another bullpen session, this time using his curveball. He came away with no issues, which was big because his curveball had previously been causing numbness in his fingertips. Eickhoff had thrown all fastballs in his previous bullpen session Tuesday.

The 27-year-old right-hander has not pitched for the Phillies this season. He was placed on the DL with a lat strain in spring training, and when he was on the way back he again experienced that numbness in the fingers. He received an anti-inflammatory injection in his wrist and appears to be OK since.

It doesn't look like Eickhoff is ready yet to pitch live BP or begin a rehab assignment. Once he does begin a rehab assignment, the Phillies will have 30 days to decide what to do with him. If they deem him unready after the 30 days, they could activate him from the DL and option him to Triple A Lehigh Valley. Eickhoff does have an option remaining.

The reason that's even a possibility for a man who made 57 starts for the Phillies the last two seasons is the success of the current five-man rotation. 

Zach Eflin isn't going anywhere. Eflin is 5-2 with a 3.44 ERA in nine starts and has shown genuine progress with his four-seam fastball and rising strikeout rate. After punching out just 4.7 batters per nine innings in 2016 and 2017, Eflin has struck out 9.2 per nine this season.

The Phillies obviously wouldn't be pushing 2018 revelation Nick Pivetta out of the rotation either. And Vince Velasquez, as inconsistent as he can be, has allowed three runs or less in 10 of 15 starts. From a pure stuff standpoint, there's not much of a comparison between Velasquez and Eickhoff.

These situations have a way of working themselves out. If this one doesn't and the entire rotation remains healthy, the Phils' two most realistic options would be to try to get Eickhoff into a groove starting games at Triple A, or use him as a long reliever on the major-league roster.

The Phillies carried Drew Hutchison as the long man for the first two months of the season before designating him for assignment in early June. Since then, they've run through Mark Leiter Jr. and Jake Thompson but neither has stuck in the big leagues. 

It's unclear how Eickhoff would perform in that role coming out of the bullpen with the Phillies trailing or leading by a lot. Unlike 90 percent of bullpen arms these days, Eickhoff is not a hard thrower. His fastball sits around 91 mph, and when he's going well it's because he's spotting it on the corners and freezing hitters with his 12-6 curveball.

There's still a ways to go for Eickhoff, but if there's no other rotation injury by the time he's ready to go, he'll need to earn his old job back.

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