Phillies

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Much better matchups this weekend for Rhys Hoskins

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Much better matchups this weekend for Rhys Hoskins

Phillies (42-70) vs. Mets (52-60)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The big stories coming out of last night's Phillies game were the debut of Rhys Hoskins and the confusing finger injury that limited Vince Velasquez to one inning.

The game's result was yet another embarrassing Phillies loss to the Mets, continuing a theme that has lasted six seasons. 

1. Wait ... whose house is this?
The Mets' personnel doesn't even seem to matter at this point. When they get to South Philadelphia, all they do is clobber baseballs.

Even without CBP-lovers Jay Bruce (now with Cleveland) and Lucas Duda (now with Tampa), the Mets hit four homers that accounted for nine of their runs in a 10-0 win. 

The Phillies are 14-37 against the Mets since 2012 ... at home. That's a .275 winning percentage. That's a 45-117 full-season pace. That's pathetic.

That 14-37 mark vs. the Mets since 2012 is the second-worst divisional record for any major-league team at its own park. (The Mets are 15-41 at home since 2012 against the Nationals.)

In the last 22 meetings at Citizens Bank Park, the Mets have 50 home runs. Ricky Bottalico said last night on Phillies Postgame Live that if he was in the Mets' front office, he'd be pushing to have Citi Field's dimensions changed to CBP's — and he wasn't joking.

The Mets had 16 men on base last night. The Phillies had five. Granted, the Phillies faced a locked-in Jacob deGrom.

2. Hoskins' debut
How 'bout that for a first test? "Hey Rhys, we know you've been playing left field for three days, but go do it in a major-league park, and while you're at it, face one of the game's best pitchers."

Batting seventh, Hoskins went 0 for 2 with a walk.

In his first at-bat against deGrom, Hoskins took the first pitch out of the strike zone but it was called a strike because deGrom is an ace and Hoskins is a rookie. Those little subconscious biases exist for umpires. The at-bat ended with a nasty two-seam fastball that froze Hoskins for a strikeout.

In his second at-bat, Hoskins hit a ball sharply up the middle but the Mets had him positioned perfectly so it was a double play.

In his final plate appearance, Hoskins fouled off two pitches on a 3-2 count and worked a leadoff walk.

Every major-league pitcher poses some sort of challenge, but these next three games against the Mets should give Hoskins a chance to succeed. Tonight, he'll face Seth Lugo, who has a 4.55 ERA. On Saturday, the Phillies face Steven Matz, who has a .315 opponents' batting average vs. righties. On Sunday, the Phils get Chris Flexen and his 8.49 ERA.

3. One of two extremes
This matchup feels like it will either be great or terrible for Nick Pivetta. He's a hard-throwing right-hander who strikes out a lot of batters and gives up a lot of home runs. The Mets are a boom-bust offense that strikes out a lot and hits a lot of home runs.

The guess here is that we'll either be looking at a Pivetta line of six innings, a couple runs and 10 strikeouts, or 3⅔ innings, three homers and a bunch of runs. Either is a possibility for a pitcher who has a mid-to-high-90s fastball and a tight slider but throws too many pitches in the heart of the plate.

Pivetta is 4-7 with a 5.89 ERA in 16 starts. He's struck out 84 batters in 84 innings and allowed 17 home runs, 15 to right-handed hitters. Lefties have hit .228 with a .658 OPS against Pivetta; righties have hit .298 with a 1.005 OPS.

Pivetta had an excellent start against the Mets on July 2, but that was at pitcher-friendly Citi Field, where the Mets' dominance over the Phillies is not nearly as pronounced. On that night, Pivetta allowed just one hit over seven innings, a solo homer to T.J. Rivera.

With how frustrating the season has been for Vince Velasquez, the Phillies would really like to see Pivetta finish strong so they can enter the offseason knowing they have at least one decent, hard thrower in the rotation. Both pitchers have a lot of upside but it's tough to have two guys so inconsistent on the same five-man staff. 

4. Conforto or Nola?
It's a debate we'll be having for years. Michael Conforto was taken three picks after Aaron Nola in the 2014 MLB draft and both have had eerily similar careers to this point.

Conforto, just like Nola, was very impressive as a rookie in 2015 before struggling in 2016. Just like the Phillies with Nola, the Mets went into last winter seeking some answers about Conforto.

Both have been the most promising part of their team's 2017 season. Nola has been on a historic run of allowing two or fewer runs, and Conforto has been an on-base and power machine. In 389 plate appearances this season, Conforto has hit .290/.396/.573 with 24 homers and 61 RBIs. He's either going to be atop the Mets' lineup or in the middle of it for years.

I sent out a Twitter poll last May asking fans which of the two players they'd take if they got into a time machine and went back to draft night 2014. The response was 85 percent Nola, and that was before he hit a new level this season. I sent it out again Friday and am curious to see whether it changes.

5. This and that
• Mark Leiter Jr. made some Phillies history last night, becoming the first Phillies reliever ever to strike out at least seven batters in two straight appearances.

In his last two outings, Leiter has allowed one run in 9⅓ innings with no walks and 16 K's. Might the Phillies have found themselves a Chris Devenski-like relief weapon?

• Can Jorge Alfaro get a start? Cameron Rupp has been behind the plate for seven of the Phillies' last eight games.

• If you didn't already believe this was the year of the home run, check this out: In 2014, there were 57 players with 20-plus home runs. This season, with about 50 games remaining for every team, there are already 59 players to do so. The Phillies have none of the 59, but Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph will likely both reach 20.

Phillies make a minor trade, sign a familiar utility man on final day of winter meetings

Phillies make a minor trade, sign a familiar utility man on final day of winter meetings

SAN DIEGO — The Phillies wrapped up the winter meetings with a blip of activity in the Rule 5 draft Thursday. The club selected Vimael Machin, a shortstop from the Chicago Cubs organization, with the 15th pick in the draft and quickly traded him to the Oakland A’s in a cash deal.
 
The Phillies lost no players in draft.
 
The Phillies did make an addition before leaving the meetings. According to sources, the club re-signed utility man Phil Gosselin to a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league spring training camp.
 
Gosselin, 31, played in 44 games for the Phillies last season and hit .262. He was 10 for 32 with three RBIs as a pinch-hitter. He played left field, shortstop and third base. Gosselin spent the bulk of the season at Triple A Lehigh Valley, where he hit .314 with 8 homers, 47 RBIs and a .901 OPS in 296 at-bats.
 
Active rosters will expand from 25 to 26 players next season so Gosselin will be in play for a spot on the lengthened bench along with veteran infielder Josh Harrison and others. Harrison recently signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies.
 
Gosselin, a West Chester native, played at Malvern Prep and the University of Virginia. He has played in the majors with the Braves, Pirates, Reds, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Phillies.

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Sounds like Odubel Herrera is a goner as Phillies’ GM backs Adam Haseley for starting CF job

Sounds like Odubel Herrera is a goner as Phillies’ GM backs Adam Haseley for starting CF job

SAN DIEGO  — Phillies general manager Matt Klentak all but anointed Adam Haseley as the team’s starting centerfielder for the 2020 season on Wednesday and in doing so offered his strongest indication yet that Odubel Herrera will not be part of the club.

“I expect that Adam Haseley's going to be our regular centerfielder,” Klentak said on Day 3 of baseball’s winter meetings. “But having said that, I recognize that when Roman Quinn is healthy and playing to his potential, it's hard to take him out of the lineup. I think that combination of players likely takes down the majority of our center field reps this year.”

Klentak went on to say he expected Jay Bruce to be part of the club and “cover us on the corners,” as a backup to Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper as well as a bat off the bench.

That’s five outfielders and no Herrera.

By now you know the story. Herrera was suspended for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic violence last May. As a matter of procedure, he has been reinstated to the 40-man roster, but there is no guarantee he will part of the team in 2020. In fact, it seems quite doubtful based on how team officials have glossed over him  — he’s basically a forgotten man  — whenever talking about plans for the coming season. Klentak’s strong backing of a Haseley-Quinn tandem in center field next season was the latest example.

Herrera, who turns 28 this month, was the Phillies’ starting centerfielder for four-plus seasons before his suspension, and he has two years and more than $20 million remaining on his contract. When Major League Baseball and the Players Association forged its joint policy on domestic violence, both sides agreed that a player violating the policy could not have his contract voided. To move on from Herrera, the Phillies would have to eat the remainder of his salary and prove that they were releasing him for purely baseball reasons. The emergence of Haseley, who came up in June last season, and the desire to see more of him in 2020 sure sounds like a baseball reason.

“He has a guaranteed contract for this year and next,” Klentak said of Herrera. “He's getting paid. When he left the team in the spring, he was the everyday center fielder and what he's coming back to now is a much different situation. 

“It’s just a different landscape than before Odubel was suspended. That’s the crux of the issue here.”

The Phillies probably won’t feel any pressure to make a call on Herrera’s future until spring training draws near. If he comes to camp, he will have to earn his way onto the active roster. 

“Anything that happens from here on out is going to be performance driven and he has to earn whatever he’s going to get. His standing on our club is impacted by both how he performs, but also what happens around him. Some of this is within his control and some it is not. He’s in Miami, he’s working out and he’s getting himself in good shape. He understands that he’s going to have to earn whatever he gets in his career and he’s taking that seriously.”

Haseley, who will play at age 24 next season, was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2017. He was a big favorite of Klentak for his ability to control the strike zone (i.e., work counts, limit strike outs, get on base) at the University of Virginia. He was called up from the minors when McCutchen blew out his ACL in June and hit .266 with 14 doubles, five homers, 26 RBIs and a .720 OPS in 222 at-bats. He walked just 14 times and struck out 60.

“In a perfect world, he would have spent more time in the minor leagues,” Klentak said. “But with McCutchen getting hurt, we felt it was the right time to be a little more aggressive. He had some ups and downs. It wasn’t a perfect rookie season. But I think he gives a real good at-bat. He’s got a very good idea of the strike zone — he had that as an amateur and he started to show it at the big-league level. I know his walk-to-strikeout totals weren’t great but I think if you watch his at-bats, I think you can see he has that skill and as he starts to become more comfortable at this level we’ll start to see that more and more.

“I was also impressed with his defense so I think when you look at the body of work over three months that he was in the big leagues that’s a pretty impressive rookie season and I think there’s reason for optimism that he’ll be better than that (in 2020).”

From Jake Arrieta to Zack Wheeler to McCutchen and Harper, the Phillies have spent big on free agents over the last couple of years, and they still want to extend J.T. Realmuto’s contract later this winter. Most teams cannot survive by signing high-priced talents all over the diamond. For sustainability reasons, some of that talent has to be young, homegrown, and by extension, inexpensive.

So say hello to Adam Haseley in 2020. 

“I think he’s going to be a really good player,” Klentak said. “And as important as anything, our team needs to make sure that we are giving opportunities to young players when the time is right and when those players deserve it. With the way that our roster is unfolding - we have the center field spot (open) and a good young player who we really like who showed well for himself in his rookie year  — it makes sense for us to let him get the reps out there.”

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