Phillies

Phillies use another waiver claim, bring in left-hander from Seattle

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Phillies use another waiver claim, bring in left-hander from Seattle

The Phillies again made use of their high priority in the waiver order, claiming left-handed reliever Zac Curtis off waivers from the Seattle Mariners.

Curtis, 25, was the Diamondbacks' sixth-round pick in 2014. He made 21 appearances out of Arizona's bullpen in 2016 and three more for Seattle this season. In 18 career innings, he has a 5.00 ERA and 1.67 WHIP with 12 strikeouts and 14 walks.

In four minor-league seasons, Curtis owns a 2.44 ERA with 229 strikeouts and 54 walks in 162⅓ innings.

Curtis was part of a high-profile trade last offseason when he was shipped by Arizona along with infielder Jean Segura to Seattle for starting pitcher Taijuan Walker.

Because the Phillies have the worst record in the National League, they had the first crack at Curtis once every American League team passed on him.

To make room for Curtis on the 40-man roster, the Phillies transferred righty Jesen Therrien (elbow) to the 60-day DL.

Curtis is the third reliever the Phillies have claimed off waivers in the last two weeks. They brought in Juan Nicasio on Aug. 3 (only to later trade him to St. Louis) and lefty Kevin Siegrist on Sept. 2.

Phillies call up Henderson Alvarez
In a separate move, the Phillies brought up veteran right-hander Henderson Alvarez, according to the pitcher himself via a pair of retweets. 

Alvarez was pitching for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent League when the Phillies signed him on Aug. 22. He made three starts with Triple A Lehigh Valley and went 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA.

Alvarez was an All-Star in 2014 with the Marlins, when he went 12-7 with a 2.65 ERA in 30 starts. But arm injuries sapped him of his effectiveness and kept him out of the majors from early in the 2015 season until now.

Matt Klentak, Gabe Kapler agree on how Phillies should use Seranthony Dominguez

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Matt Klentak, Gabe Kapler agree on how Phillies should use Seranthony Dominguez

Matt Klentak and Gabe Kapler are in lock-step agreement when it comes to how bullpen weapon Seranthony Dominguez has been deployed.

Kapler, the Phillies skipper, hasn’t ruled out using Dominguez as a classic, ninth-inning closer someday. But he prefers to use the hard-throwing right-hander as a kill shot in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth inning, whenever he determines the game to be on the line.

Klentak, the general manager, shares that philosophy and that’s not a surprise. Their shared baseball ideals and a dedication to new-school practices made Kapler an attractive choice when Klentak went searching for a new manager after last season.

“The argument against (using Dominguez exclusively in the ninth inning) is that the ninth inning is not always the highest-leverage situation,” Klentak said Tuesday afternoon. “You can blow a save in the seventh or the eighth or the ninth. Emotionally, it stings more when it happens in the ninth because you feel like you're right there. You're just about to win the game. But if you never get to the ninth inning with a lead in the first place, you never have a chance to win that game. So sometimes using your best relievers earlier in the game is what makes the most sense.”

By all indications, the Phillies are trying to come up with a dependable ninth-inning man from their current bullpen mix. That would allow Kapler to continue to use Dominguez as a wild card. Luis Garcia and Hector Neris got looks in the ninth. Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano will get some looks there. Pat Neshek might get an occasional call there when he returns. Down the road, others will get a look.

The NL East rival Washington Nationals went out and traded for a closer, Kelvin Herrera, on Monday. Klentak would not say whether he was in the mix for Herrera, but he did not rule out trading for bullpen help in the coming weeks – if the Phillies remain in the hunt.

“There's been a handful of [trade] conversations,” Klentak said. “I wouldn't say that the trade market has been hot at this point. Once you get through the draft, those conversations start. It's the proverbial feeling-out process, but I guess every once and a while that might lead to something.”

Before making a trade, Klentak will first try to fill bullpen holes from within. He mentioned that Neshek could be the biggest bullpen acquisition in the game once he’s ready (see story).

“First and foremost, we really do like and trust the group of relievers that we have,” he said. “I am well aware that to date we have not settled on a single closer. I think at some point we might. If organically it works and that's the way things shake out, I think we're open to that. If we had Brad Lidge on this team, he would close. If we had Billy Wagner on this team, he would close. If we had Jonathan Papelbon on this team, he would close. We don't have one of those guys. So we're making due with what we have, which is a pretty good group. Guys like Arano, Dominguez, Ramos — these guys are having, quietly or not-so-quietly, some really good years. Tommy Hunter is having, arguably, the best year of his career right now.

“That doesn't minimize the fact that we've had some really tough losses, some really deflating ninth-inning meltdowns. But the group itself is really talented and we're confident in it. I think at some point in the near future we're going to get Pat Neshek back, who while not a traditional closer, is probably as good a bullpen arm as a team is going to add in the next six weeks. We will see what's available in the trade market — which players are available, what the costs are. We will probably look at that in free agency as well. But we have to maintain the proper perspective on any potential acquisition.”

That perspective involves weighing where the Phillies are in the standings, how realistic their chances at making the postseason are and what the cost in prospects surrendered would be. Despite the improvements the Phillies have made this season, the front office is still in a building mode and it does not want to mortgage the future.

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Nick Williams out briefly with broken nose; Pat Neshek close to being 'biggest bullpen acquisition'

Nick Williams out briefly with broken nose; Pat Neshek close to being 'biggest bullpen acquisition'

A few interesting items on the injury front from Citizens Bank Park:

• Nick Williams is not in Tuesday night’s lineup. He left Monday night’s game after getting hit in the nose by a ball that ricocheted off the right field wall. At first, it looked like Williams had suffered nothing more than a bloody nose. Further evaluation revealed a break. Both Williams and the Phillies are confident he can avoid the disabled list and return very soon.

“I thought I could play today,” Williams said. “I’m ready.”

It does not appear as if Williams suffered a concussion though the team was awaiting the results of some tests.

“As of right now, we don't think there is a concussion,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Our feeling is that he's going to be able to go [Wednesday]. This is nothing long term; it's not a DL. But we do want to be careful with the concussion stuff for today."

• Reliever Pat Neshek, who has not pitched this season because of a shoulder injury then later a forearm injury, is making good progress in Florida. He could be out on a minor-league rehab assignment next week and be back in early July.

“When Pat thinks he’s ready and our evaluators think he’s ready, we’ll gladly get him here right away,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “I couldn’t tell you if that’s going to be one or two outings or four or five outings.”

Klentak signed Neshek to a two-year, $16.25 million contract in the offseason. He believes the veteran right-hander will provide a big boost to the bullpen.

“That may be the single biggest bullpen acquisition any team makes — Pat Neshek rejoining us,” Klentak said. “This guy was as good a setup reliever as there was in all of baseball for six months last season.”

• Mickey Moniak has been out of the Clearwater lineup recently. He had his wisdom teeth removed. He is working his way back into action. Moniak, 20, was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft.

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