Austin Davis

Nationals 5, Phillies 1: First impressions after another grim performance

Nationals 5, Phillies 1: First impressions after another grim performance

BOX SCORE

Aaron Nola’s Cy Young chances took a hit in the Phillies’ latest loss Wednesday night. Nola lasted just five innings and gave up four runs, three on a pair of homers, in a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals, who swept the three-game series.

Nola’s ability to keep the ball in the yard had been impressive for most of the season. But after allowing just eight homers in his first 27 starts, he has surrendered seven in his last three. Nola is 16-5 with a 2.42 ERA in 30 starts.

Where they stand

Since they topped out at 63-48 and led the NL East by 1½ games on Aug. 5, the Phillies are 11-23. Their record is now 74-71. Incredible as it may seem given where they once were, the Phils might not even finish with a .500 record.

They are still in second place, trailing Atlanta by 7½ games with 17 to play. But they are only a half-game better than third-place Washington.

Hmm

The Phils’ deficit of 7½ games with 17 to play sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, that’s how far they were behind the Mets when they came back to win the NL East in the Jimmy Rollins, “We’re the team to beat,” year of 2007. This team doesn’t look capable of a similar comeback. This team is going in the wrong direction and appears out of gas.

Phillies have a new owner

Actually they don’t, but Stephen Strasburg does own them in the figurative sense. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball, walked none and struck out nine, to improve his lifetime mark against the Phils to 12-2 in 24 starts.

Not much offense

Manager Gabe Kapler praised his hitting coaches before the game (see story). Then the Phils went out and had just five hits. J.P. Crawford had three of them with an infield single, a bloop single and a homer.

Time to see some kids

Kapler said he would continue to play lineups that give the Phillies the best chance to win, but with their playoff hopes all but faded he is likely to get a look at some of the team’s younger players. The exercise started Wednesday night when Crawford started his first game at shortstop since June 18. Crawford got the Phillies on the scoreboard with a solo homer against Strasburg in the fifth inning.

Another young player, Roman Quinn, could be ready to return to the starting lineup as soon as Friday. He has been out since suffering a broken toe last week.

Kapler is consistent in strategy

The Phils trailed, 4-1, after Crawford’s homer in the fifth. Jorge Alfaro was then hit by a pitch. Nola was on his way out of the game, but it was possible he could have stayed around to try to move Alfaro to second with a bunt. Kapler instead sent Justin Bour to the plate to pinch-hit. That was no surprise because all season Kapler has made it clear that he will play for big innings and you do that by swinging the bat. Bour struck out. Cesar Hernandez struck out. Rhys Hoskins popped out to the catcher. Alfaro never advanced past first base and the Nats added a run on a solo homer by Juan Soto in the top of the sixth.

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Shocker: Joe West was wrong to confiscate Austin Davis' scouting report

Shocker: Joe West was wrong to confiscate Austin Davis' scouting report

Wait, Joe West was wrong?

Consider us, and the many of you who spoke out on social media Saturday night, shocked.

Last night in the eighth inning, West, the veteran umpire of more than 5,000 games, approached Phillies reliever Austin Davis and confiscated the scouting report Davis had been referencing during the inning, considering it a “foreign substance.”

Sunday, West is admitting that he did that in error.

During Sunday’s game, Ben Davis reported on NBC Sports Philadelphia that there was a lack of communication between the umpires and the league. West indicated to Davis that the umpires were never informed that the use of scouting reports was allowed.

That has now changed.

Davis continued to say that the league has made it clear to the umpires that use of such scouting reports was acceptable, if the player is not delaying the game. 

This tweet by Todd Zolecki confirms that report, citing MLB rule 6.03(c)(7).

We have entered the final month of the season and Davis has been using the cards throughout the year without issue. If a play can be reviewed, why couldn’t West consult with MLB to make sure he wasn’t acting in error when he confiscated the card from Davis?

The game of baseball is evolving and the use of scouting reports by pitchers is part of the work done by the Phillies' scouting department. It’s unfortunate that the umpires didn’t know the rules when they stepped out on to the field last night.

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Players Phillies are most likely to call up on Sept. 1

Players Phillies are most likely to call up on Sept. 1

As depressing as this is to everyone who loves summer, Saturday is Sept. 1.

In the baseball world, that means expanded rosters.

Starting on Sept. 1, teams can activate everyone on their 40-man roster if they so choose. You typically do not see a team make use of all 40 spots because it crams the clubhouse and dugout and some of them aren't needed.

But the 2018 Phillies figure to use more extra men in September than the last few years because of two reasons: They are in contention, and Gabe Kapler loves to match up.

Here's a look at the players most likely to be called up to the majors on Sept. 1. Keep in mind that the Triple A IronPigs will be going after a championship this month, so you could see a few players left at Lehigh Valley until they're actually needed.

SP Jerad Eickhoff
Eickhoff has started five games in August in his attempt to come back from lat and hand injuries. He has a 1.83 ERA in those five starts, including six shutout innings for Triple A Lehigh Valley on Saturday.

Eickhoff figures to work as a long man for the Phillies in September because their rotation is full. He could still make a spot start if there's an injury, if Nick Pivetta struggles or a rainout forces the Phils to play a doubleheader.

C Andrew Knapp
Knapp is currently on the Phillies' 25-man roster, serving as a bench bat and third catcher with Wilson Ramos' lingering wrist and hamstring issues.

Knapp could be the odd man out by Tuesday afternoon if the Phillies are able to acquire Jose Bautista from the Mets (see story). But even if Knapp is sent out to make room for Bautista, he will definitely be back by the weekend. Every team in baseball calls up a third catcher for the month of September.

SS/3B J.P. Crawford
Crawford, who homered Monday night, last appeared in a game with the Phillies on June 19. He is the type of player who might benefit from some more regular playing time at Triple A before a mid-September call-up. 

But the Phillies could also bring him back as a patient bat off the bench. This has mostly been a lost season for Crawford because of a forearm strain and a broken hand that kept him out for nearly six weeks each.

INF/OF Pedro Florimon
Florimon had his rehab assignment transferred to Triple A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. He's been out since May 30 because of a broken foot caused by a foul ball.

Florimon has played shortstop, third base, center field and right field for the Phillies this season. He's pitched too, of course.

The Phillies could utilize Florimon's defense on the left side of the infield late in games. He's a better defender at this point than Asdrubal Cabrera and is obviously more seasoned than Scott Kingery.

OFs Aaron Altherr, Dylan Cozens
Altherr hasn't done a lot of hitting since being demoted to Triple A on July 22. Entering Monday night, he had hit .245/.314/.340 in 30 games with the IronPigs.

But the Phillies could use his speed and defense late in games. He's still a better and more instinctive outfielder than everyone on the Phillies' 25-man roster other than Roman Quinn.

Cozens, theoretically, could provide left-handed power off the bench, but he hasn't hit much lately — .156 with 19 strikeouts in his last 54 plate appearances.

The Phillies could call up both Altherr and Cozens on Sept. 1 but it seems more likely they wait to bring Cozens back until a bit later in the month, when he's seeing the ball better.

LHP Austin Davis and RHP Edubray Ramos
Both are on the 10-day DL — Davis with a back injury and Ramos with a blister.

Davis started a rehab assignment at Triple A on Monday.

Both have spent plenty of time up with the big club this season and had their share of successes. Davis is not a conventional lefty specialist. Lefties have actually hit .293 against him compared to .213 for righties. 

The Phillies value Davis' endurance, though. Of his 22 appearances in the majors this season, seven were scoreless outings longer than an inning.

Ramos has a 2.00 ERA in 42 appearances and was arguably the Phillies' most consistent reliever in the first half.

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