Phillies

Trade talk: Phillies have a 'standing offer' for reliever Pat Neshek

Trade talk: Phillies have a 'standing offer' for reliever Pat Neshek

PHOENIX -- There are five weeks to go before the non-waiver trade deadline and the Phillies have already received at least one offer for one of their players.

The club has a "standing offer" on the table for veteran reliever Pat Neshek, according to a source. The right-hander is having a strong season. Entering Saturday night's game, he'd allowed just two runs in 29 2/3 innings.

The Phillies acquired Neshek and his $6.5 million salary from Houston last fall. Phillies management hoped Neshek would do just what he has done — provide several months of stability to the bullpen while becoming a July trade chip. It's unclear what the return would be on Neshek — a low-level prospect would be a good bet but clearly Phillies management believes the pitcher can build more value in the coming weeks, otherwise it would have pulled the trigger on a deal already.

Neshek recently said he expects to be traded

The Phillies had hoped veterans Michael Saunders and Jeanmar Gomez would also build some trade value, but both were designated for assignment last week and will be released Sunday.

Infielder Howie Kendrick could have some value to a team looking for a versatile bat. He was not in the Phillies' lineup for the third day in a row Saturday. He is battling some hamstring tightness, but it is not serious and should not keep him out long.

Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and reliever Joaquin Benoit are also trade chips. Both have had up-and-down seasons and that will impact the Phillies' return. Hellickson will be owed about $6 million at the trade deadline, but the Phillies will subsidize some of that to strike a deal.

Basically, there are no untouchables on the roster, but it's too early to tell what will happen.

"I think we have some players who are desirable, but it's too hard to predict because we're still a month away," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Zack Wheeler pitches a gem, Phillies bats come alive for 11 runs in win over Yankees

Zack Wheeler pitches a gem, Phillies bats come alive for 11 runs in win over Yankees

The Phillies got a strong start from Zack Wheeler and plenty of offense as they beat the New York Yankees, 11-7, in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Wheeler pitched six innings in the seven-inning affair. He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out two. He has won both of his starts with the Phillies and allowed just four runs (three earned) in 13 innings.

The Phillies, who were the visiting team in Game 1, erased a three-run deficit with four runs in the top of the third inning. They added six runs on six singles and a New York error in the sixth inning.

The leaky bullpen, of course, struggled, but the Phils built a big enough lead to survive.

Bryce Harper clubbed a two-run homer in the third inning. He left the game in the sixth inning after running down the first base line and being checked by an athletic trainer. It was apparently a precautionary move as Harper was in the Game 2 lineup.

J.T. Realmuto also homered for the Phillies, who are now 2-3. Wheeler has both of the team’s wins. 

The Phils will be the home team in Game 2. Aaron Nola will start the game.

It’s never easy

With his team leading, 11-3, manager Joe Girardi removed Wheeler at 87 pitches and entrusted the final three outs to his very shaky bullpen. Lefty Austin Davis was quickly mugged for four runs, three on Aaron Judge’s seventh homer of the season. 

After Trevor Kelley walked a tight rope and put two men on base, Girardi had to bring in closer Hector Neris to get the final out. That might sound insignificant, but it wasn’t, not with a second game to play. Neris threw just one pitch in earning the save. We’ll see if that affects his availability for Game 2.

Unhappy return

Sixteen years after being selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2004 draft, lefty J.A. Happ faced his original team. Happ and Cole Hamels are the only two members of the 2008 World Series championship team still active.

It was not a pleasant return to CBP for the 37-year-old Happ. He allowed four runs in the top of the third inning to lose a 3-0 lead. The big hit in the frame was Harper’s two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch. Happ walked six batters, including four in the third inning. One of them came with the bases loaded.

Speaking of ...

... Homers on 0-2 counts. The Phillies gave up a whopping 16 of them last season. That was the most in the National League and second-most in the majors behind the Angels, who gave up 18.

In five games this season, Phillies pitchers have already allowed two 0-2 homers. Nola gave up one on a breaking ball in his first start and Wheeler gave up one (also on a breaking ball) to Brett Gardner in the second inning of this game. Other than that, Wheeler was very good.

Stay hot

Girardi went with a right-handed heavy batting order against the lefty Happ. Phil Gosselin started at third and Jean Segura moved to shortstop. Lefty-hitting Didi Gregorius did not start. He entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and stayed on at shortstop with Segura moving to third.

Gosselin had two plate appearances. He doubled and pushed home a run with a bases-loaded walk in the third.

For the season, Gosselin is 5 for 8 with two homers and a double. He has reached base safely eight times in his 11 plate appearances.

A kick start?

Rhys Hoskins fell behind 0-2 against reliever Nick Nelson in the sixth inning. He then drove a single to left field for his first RBI of the season. Maybe the hit will help Hoskins get going. He was 2 for 15 before the hit. 

On defense

Segura made an error at shortstop that cost Wheeler and the Phillies a run in the first inning. Segura atoned with a nice play to start a double play in the fourth.

The Phils turned three double plays behind Wheeler. Wheeler benefited from four double plays in his first start. Not a bad trend.

Spencer for hire?

Before Game 1, Girardi announced his pitching rotation for the week. Nola will pitch the second game of the doubleheader. Zach Eflin will pitch Thursday against the Yankees and Vince Velasquez and Jake Arrieta will pitch the first two games of the Atlanta series on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Girardi said Sunday’s starter against the Braves was “to be determined.” It seems reasonable that top pitching prospect Spencer Howard could make his major-league debut that day. Girardi had previously said that he and team officials would discuss the possibility of Howard getting that start. Stay tuned.

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Bryce Harper exits with apparent tweak after best inning of Phillies' season

Bryce Harper exits with apparent tweak after best inning of Phillies' season

It may have been strictly precautionary, but the Phillies removed Bryce Harper in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday in the first game of their doubleheader after he appeared to tweak something during a swing.

Harper moved with a slight limp after the swing but appeared to be OK. He was visited by a trainer at first base and ran for himself in the top of the sixth after that healthy hack. The Phillies were up 11-3 when Joe Girardi pulled him, and there's another game 35 minutes after the first one ends, so they could just be playing it safe. We'll know more when the Phillies' Game 2 lineup comes out.

(Update: Harper was in the Game 2 lineup, so this was clearly a precautionary move.)

Earlier in the game, Harper hit a two-run home run to start the Phillies' scoring. Five games into his season, he has two homers, five RBI and a 1.054 OPS.

That sixth inning for the Phillies was their best all season. They scored six runs and had four hits with runners in scoring position after totaling just five in their first four games.

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