Phillies

Phillies-Marlins observations: Aaron Nola dominates, Rhys Hoskins homers again in win

Phillies-Marlins observations: Aaron Nola dominates, Rhys Hoskins homers again in win

BOX SCORE

It has gotten to the point where it's a surprise if Rhys Hoskins doesn't do something special in a game.

The rookie sensation hit another home run — his third in two games and 17th in 33 games — to help the Phillies beat the Miami Marlins, 8-1, on Wednesday night.
 
Aaron Nola wasn't too shabby, either. He struck out a career-high 11 in finally beating Miami. He had been 0-3 with a 10.67 ERA in three previous starts against Miami this season.
 
• Hoskins' 17th homer, a two-run shot in the fifth, left him just four shy of Tommy Joseph's team-leading 21. With 17 games left, and at his current pace, Hoskins has a good chance to lead this team in homers, a feat that is both remarkable and sad. It would be remarkable because he did not come up until Aug. 10 and will play in no more than 50 games; sad because none of the full-season Phillies showed more power.
 
• In 33 games, Hoskins is hitting .310 with a .434 on-base percentage and a .784 slugging percentage. His three RBIs left him with 37.
 
• Nola was outstanding in holding a lineup that had given him a lot of problems this season to just four hits and a run over seven innings. Nola walked two. His sinker and breaking ball both had excellent movement down in the zone. Three of Nola's 11 strikeouts came against Marcell Ozuna, who had entered the game 6 for 16 with two homers and six RBIs lifetime against him.
 
• The Phillies' bullpen delivered 10 innings of one-run ball in Tuesday night's 15-inning win. This time the workload was a modest two innings, but Adam Morgan and Victor Arano made them scoreless.
 
• J.P. Crawford got his second straight start at second base while Cesar Hernandez was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game. Hernandez likely will be back in the starting lineup Thursday night. With Hernandez out of the lineup, Pete Mackanin used Odubel Herrera in the leadoff hole for the second straight game. Herrera had three hits and scored two runs on Tuesday night. In this game, he doubled and homered. Herrera likes leading off and it shows in his energy the last two games. It's not clear how the Phillies' lineup will shake out in the future, but it's not difficult to imagine Herrera and Crawford at the top. That's some serious on-base percentage and it could offer Hoskins and Williams the chance to collect a lot of RBIs as the Phillies' lineup comes together.
 
• Herrera's home run, a two-run shot in the sixth, was an absolute bomb to right field against Dan Straily. It came off the bat at 104 mph and traveled 424 feet. You could have had your eyes closed and known it was gone by the impressive sound with which it came off the bat.
 
• The Phillies made a roster move before the game, adding pitcher Henderson Alvarez and placing outfielder Daniel Nava on the 60-day disabled list with a back strain. The Phillies will finish the season with a six-man pitching rotation. Alvarez is expected to start on Sunday against Oakland.
 
• Jake Thompson (1-2, 5.23) pitches against Miami right-hander Jose Urena (13-6, 3.61) in the series finale on Thursday night.

Another series win for Phillies during unlikely June turnaround

ap_maikel_franco_phillies.png
AP Images

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?

uspresswire-phillies-jerad-eickhoff.jpg
USA Today Images

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.

More on the Phillies