Phillies

Phillies-Nationals observations: Big 3rd inning in 4-1 win

Phillies-Nationals observations: Big 3rd inning in 4-1 win

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Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp keyed a three-run third inning and the bullpen pitched well in lifting the Phillies to a 4-1 win over the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.

The win was the lowly Phillies' 63rd against 95 losses and it ensured that the team will not reach the 100-defeat mark. The Phils have not lost 100 games in a season since 1961. Nonetheless, the Phils entered the game tied with San Francisco for having the game's worst record.
 
Joseph and Rupp have each lost playing time recently. Joseph had an RBI single in the third and Rupp scorched a two-run, two-out double over the centerfielder's head.

• Jake Thompson pitched five innings of one-run ball. He pitched 46 1/3 innings in the majors this season and had a 3.88 ERA. For his career, he is at 100 big-league innings. His ERA is 4.86.

• Washington starter Gio Gonzalez entered the game with the third-best ERA in the National League at 2.68. He allowed five hits and three runs over five innings. He struck out seven but walked five. Two of those walks became runs. Gonzalez will need to be better when the postseason starts next week.

• Washington star Bryce Harper returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a hyperextended left knee on Aug. 12. He was hitless with a walk in three at-bats. Harper is basically trying to get his timing back for the postseason.

• Pitch efficiency was seriously lacking early in the game as Thompson and Gonzalez combined to throw 96 pitches in the first two innings. Thompson threw 29 strikes and 18 balls in the first two innings. Gonzalez threw 25 strikes and 24 balls in the first two innings and reached 100 pitches with one out in the fifth inning.

• J.P. Crawford continued to get work at third base. His actions and first-step quickness at the position are excellent. He made a quick-reaction diving stab on a liner from Ryan Zimmerman in the sixth inning. That ball came off Zimmerman's bat at 108 mph.

• Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris combined on four shutout innings — and nine strikeouts — out of the bullpen. Morgan has given up just two runs in his last 25 innings. Neris has converted 19 straight save chances.

• Odubel Herrera's first two at-bats against Gonzalez were not pretty. He struck out swinging at a pitch up and out of the strike zone in the second inning and popped weakly to short with men on base in the fourth. He got out in front of a Gonzalez curveball and popped to center in the fifth. In the eighth, he fanned against reliever Austin Adams.

• Smart play by Freddy Galvis taking an extra base on Nats first baseman Zimmerman on a groundout in the seventh. Zimmerman has trouble throwing the ball, hence his position move from third base to first. Galvis knew this, alertly took advantage of it and it resulted in a run on a sacrifice fly by Rhys Hoskins.

• Hoskins entered the game in an 0-for-10 funk (5 for 37 overall) and struck out on curveballs from Gonzalez in his first two at-bats. He rebounded to draw a walk in the fifth and had an important sacrifice fly in the seventh.

• Mark Leiter Jr. (3-6, 4.69) pitches against Washington's Tanner Roark (13-10, 4.41) in the series finale on Wednesday night.

The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The designated hitter coming to the National League is an inevitability. To some, it's a welcome inevitability. Personally, I hate it, but I acknowledge I'm probably outnumbered.

It's not about watching pitchers hit. That is the over-simplified one-line response from DH proponents. It is about many additional elements of strategy not having a DH adds. If you're a pitcher, it affects how you approach the 6-7-8-9 hitters. There is more thinking ahead. 

That goes for managers, too, who face the difficult of question of, "Do I pull Jacob deGrom with two outs and two on in the bottom of the sixth inning in a scoreless game for the extra offense?"

That doesn't happen in the AL. The Justin Verlanders of the world pitch until they're no longer effective. There is no difficult decision for the manager. 

There is also less need for a bench. AL teams sometimes run three-man benches. And plenty of AL bench players exist only as defensive replacements and/or pinch-runners.

But whatever. It's probably coming. Could be coming as early as 2021, according to Jim Bowden.

It would actually benefit the Phillies, though. The Phils face a potential logjam in the corner infield with Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, Scott Kingery and Jean Segura. Only one of them can play third base. And Hoskins or Bohm would be at first base. If the DH came to the NL in 2021, the Phils could just slot Bohm into that position.

They could also use Hoskins, who isn't exactly an above-average defensive first baseman, as the DH. And toward the end of Bryce Harper's 13-year contract, his days of effective right field defense could be over and that may be the ideal spot for him.

It will be an adjustment when the NL rules change, and there will be some hard feelings, but the baseball world will probaby get over it within a few years. MLB has already adopted the three-batter rule for relievers, altered active rosters to 26 and prevented teams from utilizing their entire 40-man roster in September. These changes, in conjunction, are pretty significant too.

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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