Phillies

MLB Notes: Cubs acquire Jose Quintana in blockbuster trade with White Sox

MLB Notes: Cubs acquire Jose Quintana in blockbuster trade with White Sox

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs found the pitching help they were looking for just a few miles from Wrigley Field. They hope it will give the scuffling team the kick it needs.

The defending World Series champions acquired left-handed ace Jose Quintana from the White Sox on Thursday in a major trade between crosstown rivals that could shake up the NL Central race.

By landing the 2016 All-Star, the Cubs made it clear they're not giving up on a difficult season after arriving at the break two games under .500. They also added a pitcher who figures to be a key piece in the rotation for at least the next few years.

"We had a bad first half," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "We did. We own that. We know we can do better."

The Cubs trail Milwaukee by 5 1/2 games in the division at 43-45 after ending a 108-year championship drought last fall. They believe they are set up to contend for years to come with stars such as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

By trading for Quintana, they brought in an elite starter who is under club control through 2020. They had to give up two top prospects in outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease along with minor league infielders Matt Rose and Bryant Flete.

Quintana has pitched better lately after a slow start and is 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts this season. He won a career-high 13 games last season with a personal-best 3.20 ERA while making his first All-Star team and is 50-54 with a 3.51 ERA since debuting with the White Sox in 2012. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said letting him go was a difficult choice for the rebuilding team.

"He's a true professional who had to deal with everything from poor run support to the bullpen occasionally letting him down, the defense letting him down," Hahn said. "He certainly never complained, never threw his arms up in the air, never rolled his eyes, never expressed any displeasure with his teammates. Instead, he was always supportive and continued to go about his business and set a wonderful example for the other young players in our clubhouse" (see full story).

Dodgers: Streaking team enters 2nd half on pace for 100 wins
LOS ANGELES -- The century mark is in sight for the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into the second half of the season.

Their 61-29 record leads the majors for the first time since 2009. Their plus-163 run differential is the best in National League history at the break, according to STATS LLC. They own a 7 -game lead over second-place Arizona in the NL West.

The last time the Dodgers reached 100 wins was in 1974 when they were 102-60 under manager Walter Alston. They lost the World Series to Oakland.

Riding a six-game winning streak, the Dodgers open the second half Friday with three games at Miami, followed by an interleague series in Chicago against the White Sox. Brandon McCarthy (6-3) takes the mound in the opener against the Marlins in his second start since coming off the disabled list.

Los Angeles is a major league-best 26-4 since June 7.

"How long is it a hot streak or this is just us?" ace Clayton Kershaw said. "I guess we'll find out."

After going a major league-best 39-11 at home -- winning 18 of their last 19 -- in the first half, the Dodgers play 40 of their remaining 71 games on the road. They'll face the next-to-last Padres and last-place Giants a combined 18 times.

"We are just really good at being in the moment right now. We're not worrying about what happened yesterday or worrying about what's in front of us," said third baseman Justin Turner, one of the team's six All-Stars (see full story).

Yankees: First baseman Cooper acquired from Brewers
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have added to their already overcrowded first base carousel.

The Yankees acquired minor league first baseman Garrett Cooper from the Milwaukee Brewers for left-handed reliever Tyler Webb on Thursday, providing more depth at a position that has been played by 10 players this season.

The 26-year-old Cooper batted .366 with 17 home runs and 82 RBIs with Triple-A Colorado Springs, which has one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the minors. Cooper has been assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

New York entered the season planning to use Greg Bird at first, but injuries have hampered the 24-year-old for a second straight year. Chris Carter leads the team with 48 starts at the position, but he was twice designated for assignment before being released earlier this month. Matt Holliday, Austin Romine, Rob Refsnyder, Tyler Austin and Ji-Man Choi have also started at first, and Chase Headley, Gary Sanchez and pitcher Bryan Mitchell have appeared there, too.

Choi, a left-handed hitter from South Korea, has had the most time there recently, and the right-handed hitting Cooper could give New York a workable platoon if no other deals materialize before the non-waiver trade deadline. New York trails the Boston Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in the American League East.

Milwaukee said it hasn't determined whether Webb will be assigned to the minors or join the big league team. He had a 4.50 ERA in seven appearances this season with the Yankees without recording a decision. He made his big league debut on June 24 after going 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 21 games at Triple-A. He turns 27 next week.

Webb could eventually join a bullpen that has been inconsistent at times except for All-Star closer Corey Knebel.

The Brewers are the surprise leader in the National League Central at the All-Star break, leading the Cubs and Cardinals each by 5 1/2 games (see full story).

Jake Arrieta 'taking the lead' of Phillies' rotation, imparting some wisdom to Nick Pivetta

Jake Arrieta 'taking the lead' of Phillies' rotation, imparting some wisdom to Nick Pivetta

This is the guy the Phillies paid $75 million for.

Jake Arrieta has been awesome in his first four starts, resembling more of the pitcher from 2014-16 than the last two seasons. Again on Wednesday afternoon, he kept the ball low, generating groundball after groundball, tapper after tapper in the Phillies' 3-2 win.

He allowed six hits over eight innings and four were infield hits. He ended three innings — the third, seventh and eighth — with double-play balls. 

He faced 29 batters and only six sent the ball past the infield.

Through four starts, Arrieta is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA. He has four straight quality starts, a longer streak than he had at any point in 2018. And the Phillies have needed every bit of it. In their other 13 games, their starting pitchers have just three quality starts.

It's definitely the most locked-in he's been as a Phillie.

"When I'm right, you're going to see a lot of balls on the ground. The timing of my delivery right now is really good," Arrieta said. "I just look forward to continuing to keep that where it is and still want to make some progress with a couple of my off-speed pitches, but the changeup's been great. It's a pitch for me where I know I can get swings and misses and weak contact so I'm going to keep throwing that quite a bit and get the cutter sharpened up."

It's early, but this changeup could take Arrieta to a higher level. Lefties hit .281 against him last season compared to .156 entering Wednesday. The pitch has enough movement, laterally and vertically, right now for him to use it against hitters from both sides.

In his last start, he threw 20 changeups and 17 were strikes. Wednesday afternoon, he threw 21 changeups and while two went for hits, one was a double-play ball and two more were swinging strikeouts.

"It was one of the top two or three performances I've seen from Arrieta since he's been a Phillie," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It was really impressive. It certainly seems like he's taken the reins and taking the lead for our pitching staff right now."

Despite inconsistent starting pitching, the Phillies are 11-6, a pace of 104 wins. They've gone 4-1-1 in six series. They'll need other starting pitchers to step up throughout the season, and they'll definitely need Aaron Nola to find his release point and command, but right now Arrieta is softening the struggles of a few of his rotation-mates.

Arrieta is also well-qualified to discuss what Nick Pivetta is going through. Pivetta was sent down to Triple A on Wednesday morning after a miserable first four starts. When GM Matt Klentak spoke about the move, he referenced Victor Arano and Hector Neris as recent examples of pitchers going down to the minors, finding their command and confidence and returning to have success. Klentak also mentioned Roy Halladay, who had the early-career issues before becoming the best pitcher in baseball. Halladay's name wasn't used to argue that Pivetta could someday be the best of the best, but instead to remind folks that even the most talented arms go through rough periods.

Another example Klentak could have cited was Arrieta himself. Arrieta was a touted prospect coming through the Orioles' farm system a decade ago, and after a few unsuccessful years in Baltimore, he became an ace in Chicago.

The Phillies' young starting pitchers take a lot of their cues from the 33-year-old Arrieta, who spoke with Pivetta after the somewhat surprising roster move.

"I talked with him, yeah. The situation he's in right now is one that I'm very familiar with," Arrieta said. "In 2012 and 2013, I went through very similar experiences. This is a moment for him to kind of get away, put his head down and get back to work. I just tried to reiterate to him that the guy he was in spring training is the guy who he really is. 

"He just needs to be a little bit more on the attack with the type of stuff that he has. You pick five to 10 guys with the best stuff in baseball and he's in that group. He just needs to refine some things, make sure his head's in a good space and get back to work because he's gonna be here. He's gonna be a big part of our team this season. This is just a moment for him to kind of get away for a little while, get his stuff right and get back here pretty soon."

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Phillies 3, Mets 2: Scott Kingery, Cesar Hernandez provide Phils just enough offense for series win

Phillies 3, Mets 2: Scott Kingery, Cesar Hernandez provide Phils just enough offense for series win

Another strong performance from Jake Arrieta and a pair of solo home runs were the difference for the Phillies Wednesday afternoon as they completed a series win over the Mets with a 3-2 victory.

Arrieta allowed one run over eight innings, improving to 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA through four starts. He's made four straight quality starts to begin his season. He did not have a streak of four straight quality starts at any point in 2018.

Arrieta came out to pitch the ninth but was pulled after allowing a leadoff single, which eventually came around to score. Adam Morgan and Hector Neris walked a tightrope but picked up the final three outs. Neris struck Keon Broxton out on a full count with the bases loaded to close it out.

The Phillies are 11-6 and have gone 4-1-1 in their six series. The Mets are 10-8.

Keys to victory

• Scott Kingery stayed hot with a solo home run. Since starting the season 0 for 4, Kingery is 12 for 20 with four doubles and two homers. At no point in his rookie year was he this hot.

• Cesar Hernandez had a productive day at the plate against Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler. Hernandez worked an 11-pitch walk in the second inning to load the bases, and Maikel Franco followed with a sacrifice fly for the Phillies' first run. In the sixth, Hernandez took Wheeler deep for his second longball of the year.

• Arrieta induced inning-ending double plays in the third, seventh and eighth innings. He allowed only six fly balls to the 28 batters he faced.

• J.T. Realmuto is hot at the plate. He went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and is up to .279/.348/.426 on the season. His work on the basepaths was what stood out the most. He went first to third on a single to left field, scored on a sac fly to center with the centerfielder catching the ball while running toward the plate, and later beat out an infield single. Ninety percent of catchers would be out on all three plays.

Another hammy pull

Odubel Herrera left the game in the fifth inning with an apparent hamstring injury, making it two hammy pulls in two days for the Phillies after Jean Segura left last night. A call-up of Roman Quinn is the logical move if Herrera has to miss time.

Rotation shakeup

Nick Pivetta was optioned to Triple A on Wednesday morning. Jerad Eickhoff takes his spot for the time being and will start Sunday at Coors Field.

Up next

The Phillies head to Colorado. The pitching matchups are:

Thursday — Zach Eflin (2-1, 3.94) vs. LHP Kyle Freeland (1-3, 5.40)

Friday — Vince Velasquez (0-0, 2.25) vs. German Marquez (2-1, 2.00)

Saturday — Aaron Nola (1-0, 7.45) vs. Antonio Senzatela (1-0, 1.35)

Sunday — Jerad Eickhoff (0-0, 0.00) vs. Jon Gray (1-3, 3.42)

Marquez is one tough customer. He pitched a one-hit shutout Sunday against the Giants.

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