Numbers don't lie at all for 2013 Phillies


Numbers don't lie at all for 2013 Phillies

Numbers don't lie and the Phillies' numbers for 2013 were the worst we have seen with this club since it started calling Citizens Bank Park home.

The Phillies finished with the worst run differential in the National League, allowing 139 more runs than they scored. That's worse than the 100-loss Miami Marlins.

It's certainly hard to win games that way. With the exception of the top two starters in the Phillies' rotation, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, the team needs a major overhaul of a staff that allowed the second-most runs in the National League (749). Only the Colorado Rockies' pitching staff allowed more runs.

We all know the core of this team is aging fast. On Nov. 19, Ryan Howard will turn 34 years old. Not old by most people's standards, but for a Major League Baseball player with some wear and tear on his body, Howard's best years are probably behind him. Each of the last two seasons, Howard has missed significant time because of injury. His absence in the Phillies' lineup this season was a huge void, but there are still plenty of question marks of whether he can turn around his slumping numbers and produce for Ryne Sandberg.

It was encouraging to hear that Howard appeared in very good shape when he rejoined the team in Atlanta last week. If the Phillies are to make a dramatic turnaround in 2014, Howard will need to be healthy and productive. The Phillies proved this season that without his big bat, they have limited power in the lineup and over time that is a hard way to win ballgames.

Changes are coming to the club, but the nucleus of Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley will remain intact when spring training opens in Clearwater. It is unlikely that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will be able to add enough pieces this offseason to make this team competitive next year.

Like many of you, I am hoping for the best because there is nothing like winning baseball in Philly.

Odubel Herrera saves day in Phillies' win over Cardinals

USA Today Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

Odubel Herrera saves day in Phillies' win over Cardinals


It was just a week ago that Odubel Herrera showed signs of breaking out of a lengthy slump with a two-hit game in a win over the Colorado Rockies.

“Bet on me,” said Herrera, showing confidence that he was about to heat up. 

Herrera was right. He’s hot again. He had three hits Wednesday afternoon, including the big one, a tie-breaking, solo homer in the bottom of the seventh that lifted the Phillies to a tense 4-3 victory and their first series win over the St. Louis Cardinals since 2014. The Phillies were able to win the series despite blowing leads in all three games.

The Phillies’ beleaguered bullpen had a successful day with Austin Davis, Edubray Ramos, Victor Arano and Adam Morgan combining on three scoreless innings. Ramos got five important outs. Morgan came on for the final two outs of the game after Arano gave up a one-out double.

Morgan picked up his first career save. He is the seventh different Phillie to notch a save this season.

Herrera has multiple hits in five of the last seven games and has 13 hits overall in that span. Five of the hits are homers in the last six games.

Herrera’s homer came against Cardinals reliever Sam Tuivailala. Starter Michael Wacha left the game in the fourth inning with an oblique injury.

Three of the Phillies’ four runs came on homers. Cesar Hernandez clubbed a two-run shot against Wacha with two outs in the fourth to give the Phils a 3-1 lead.

Jake Arrieta turned in a solid start, allowing three runs over six innings. Arrieta, however, could not have been happy with the way things ended for him. He took a 3-1 lead to the mound in the sixth inning and got a pair of quick outs before allowing a single to Marcell Ozuna to extend the frame. Yadier Molina then capitalized with a game-tying, two-run homer on a full-count slider. Arrieta gave up just four hits and two of them were homers by Molina.

J.P. Crawford was placed on the disabled list with a broken hand and Mitch Walding was recalled from Triple A (see story).

The Phillies are off Thursday. They open a three-game series at Washington Friday night. Zach Eflin (4-2, 3.43) gets the ball for the Phillies. The Nats have not yet announced their starter for that game.

Bad news for Phillies’ J.P. Crawford; Jerad Eickhoff set for big test

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Bad news for Phillies’ J.P. Crawford; Jerad Eickhoff set for big test

J.P. Crawford stood in front of his locker with a soft cast on his left hand and a sad look on his face.

A few lockers away, Jerad Eickhoff struck a more optimistic tone.

As Eickhoff gets ready to ramp up his recovery from a condition that has caused numbness in the fingers on his right hand, Crawford was officially placed on the disabled list Wednesday morning with a broken bone in his left hand. He suffered the break when he was hit by a pitch in Tuesday night’s game. The Phillies recalled corner infielder Mitch Walding from Triple A to take Crawford’s roster spot.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Crawford would be down four to six weeks.

“Plain and simple, it sucks,” Crawford said.

The fracture is on the top of Crawford's hand, on the bone that extends from the middle knuckle. He said it would not require surgery.

Crawford, 23, is hitting just .194 with a .312 on-base percentage this season. He missed five weeks with a forearm strain earlier this season and returned to the lineup in early June. He had been getting reps at third base and was due for more. With Crawford out, and missing more development time, Maikel Franco, who had lost time at third, will get regular playing time again.

Eickhoff, who was projected to be a mainstay in the Phillies’ rotation, has not pitched all season, first because of a lat strain and lately because of numbness in the fingers on his pitching hand. A series of tests ruled out a serious problem. He was treated with an anti-inflammatory injection in his wrist and passed a test when he threw a problem-free, 20-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.

“It was good, 20 pitches, all fastballs,” Eickhoff said. “It felt good. No numbness. The shot seems to be working.”

Eickhoff felt the numbness mostly when he torqued his curveball. He did not throw that pitch in Tuesday's bullpen session. He said he would mix in that pitch during his next bullpen session, Saturday in Washington.

“That’s a big test,” he said. “I am cautiously optimistic that I won’t feel anything.”

Eickhoff believes he will need a couple of more bullpens before he moves to competitive work in minor-league rehab games. He is confident he will pitch for the Phillies again this season.

“One step at a time,” he said. “We checked one box yesterday. We’ll check another one Saturday.”

In other health matters, Nick Williams, who suffered a broken nose Monday night, passed concussion protocol and was in the lineup for Wednesday afternoon’s game.

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