Jerad Eickhoff

Braves 15, Phillies 1: Braves demolish Phillies, who badly need another SP

Braves 15, Phillies 1: Braves demolish Phillies, who badly need another SP

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ATLANTA — The Phillies' need for another starting pitcher has not been more glaring than it was Sunday afternoon in a totally embarrassing 15-1 loss to the Braves.

With no fifth starter currently on the Phillies' roster, Gabe Kapler went with Vince Velasquez as an opener in Sunday's series finale and it did not work.

Velasquez hit Ronald Acuña Jr. on an 0-2 pitch to begin the game, before Dansby Swanson singled and Freddie Freeman hit a two-run double. In all, Velasquez allowed four runs in 2⅓ innings before giving way to Cole Irvin.

Irvin didn't fare any better, giving up a long two-run homer to the second batter he faced, Josh Donaldson, then giving up loud contact the next few frames. Irvin gave up six runs in 3⅔ innings as the Braves built an eight-run lead that only grew and grew.

Jerad Eickhoff, formerly the No. 5 starter, entered next and allowed two more home runs. Eickhoff has been taken deep an astonishing 18 times in his last 28 innings.

The Phillies didn't hit, didn't play good defense and definitely didn't pitch well.

They need to quickly figure out the back of this rotation. Granted, the next time the fifth spot in the rotation comes up is against the lowly Marlins Friday at Citizens Bank Park, but the league just isn't being fooled by Velasquez, Irvin or Eickhoff.

Other options would be Enyel De Los Santos, Ranger Suarez or a pitching prospect like Adonis Medina, who is on the 40-man roster and is on a nice little roll at Double A Reading, going 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA over his last five starts.

The Phillies are 39-32 and 2½ games behind the Braves in the NL East. The Braves are 24-10 in their last 34 games, six games better than the Phillies over that span.

The Phils have lost 10 of their last 16.

Down two starters

The Phillies were without starting catcher J.T. Realmuto and leftfielder Jay Bruce in this one. Realmuto exited Saturday's game after taking a foul ball to the groin and Bruce left with hamstring tightness. Both are day to day and will avoid the injured list. 

It's possible one or both are back in the lineup Monday, though it could be Tuesday.

This is what a deep lineup looks like

Back when the Phillies had Andrew McCutchen and there was still hope/optimism about Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco, they had what looked like one of baseball's deepest lineups. That is no longer the case. On Sunday, the Phils' 5-through-8 hitters were Cesar Hernandez, Nick Williams, Franco and Andrew Knapp. Not going to scare anyone.

The Braves just have a much better lineup. In order:

1) Acuña Jr. is a beast. 

2) Swanson has an OPS over .800.

3) Freeman is one of the two best hitters in the National League. 

4) Donaldson is a former MVP and a dangerous right-handed bat that is starting to get hot. 

5) Nick Markakis is a clutch left-handed hitter who rarely strikes out. 

6) Austin Riley will be in the Rookie of the Year conversation and might win it.

7) Ozzie Albies has blazing speed and at .281, has a higher batting average than every Phillies starter except Scott Kingery.

It helps that the Braves have had eight fewer injuries than the Phillies, none to their current starting lineup. But the gap in offenses right now is impossible to overlook.

Up next

The Phillies are in D.C. to play four games against the Nationals, who are 9-5 in June. The Phils will face all three of the Nationals' top starting pitching trio.

All four games are at 7:05 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Monday: Jake Arrieta (6-5, 4.31) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (5-5, 4.11)

Tuesday: Zach Eflin (6-6, 2.81) vs. Erick Fedde (1-1, 3.68)

Wednesday: Nick Pivetta (4-1, 5.00) vs. Max Scherzer (5-5, 2.81)

Thursday: Aaron Nola (6-1, 4.89) vs. Stephen Strasburg (7-4, 3.75)

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More on the Phillies

Phillies send Jerad Eickhoff to bullpen, ponder next move

Phillies send Jerad Eickhoff to bullpen, ponder next move

One day after giving up five home runs in a 13-8 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jerad Eickhoff learned he would not make his next scheduled start Sunday in Atlanta.

“I wasn’t getting the job done,” the always-accountable right-hander said. “That’s what I pride myself on. I had three or four starts that weren’t up to my standards or theirs either.”

Eickhoff was not sent to the minors because, as manager Gabe Kapler said, “We see him as one of our 13 best pitchers.”

Eickhoff will work out of the bullpen.

“We told Jerad that when he’s back on track he’ll be a consideration in the rotation again,” Kapler said.

Kapler was uncertain who would make Sunday’s start. He mentioned Vince Velasquez as a possibility then seemed to back off of that because Velasquez has suddenly become important in the bullpen and “maybe the best move is letting him get settled in there.”

Left-handers Ranger Suarez and Cole Irvin are both possibilities. Prospect Adonis Medina is not. (The Phils would like to give him more development time at Double A.) Suarez was called up from the minors on Friday, replacing injured Seranthony Dominguez. Irvin is currently in Triple A.

It’s also possible the Phils could use a reliever such as Jose Alvarez as an opener. They did that recently in Los Angeles.

Kapler said the Phils could have a decision by Wednesday.

The decision to send Eickhoff to the bullpen went beyond his poor outing Monday night. He has given up 16 homers and 27 runs over his last six starts.

“My ball has been a little flat, my arm is dragging a little,” he said. “I need to make some adjustments. I’m always willing to do the work.”

A few health checks

Reliever Edubray Ramos could be ready to come off the injured list Wednesday.

Kapler said reliever Pat Neshek is not far away from being activated. Neshek might not require a minor-league rehab outing.

“Pat is very close,” Kapler said.

Center fielder Roman Quinn was slated to play nine innings for Single A Clearwater on Tuesday night. It sounds like there’s a chance he could be ready to go by the weekend.

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More on the Phillies

At The Yard Podcast: What now for the rotation? Potential trade targets

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

At The Yard Podcast: What now for the rotation? Potential trade targets

On this edition of At The Yard, Corey Seidman and Jim Salisbury react to Jerad Eickhoff's disastrous outing on Monday and his subsequent move to the bullpen.

Why are the Phillies giving up so many home runs? Who's been the best hitter?

Why Hector Neris deserves to be an All-Star. Also, which Diamondback players might be trade targets for the Phillies?

0:30 - Jerad Eickhoff to the bullpen.
5:30 - Phillies are giving up home runs at an astonishing rate.
10:00 - Who has been the Phillies' best hitter?
15:30 - Hector Neris should be an All-Star.
18:30 - Potential D-Back trade targets.

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