Best of luck to whichever pitcher Gabe Kapler tabs to face Dodgers on Saturday night

Best of luck to whichever pitcher Gabe Kapler tabs to face Dodgers on Saturday night

LOS ANGELES — Fifteen minutes after Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers ended, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler wasn’t sure who his starting pitcher for Saturday night’s game would be.

“There’s some conversations yet to be had about that,” Kapler said.

To whoever ends up getting the nod — good luck. The Dodgers are the best team in the National League on the stat sheet and they certainly met the eye test in scoring a 6-3 win over the Phillies in the first game of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium on Friday night (see observations).

Rookie lefty Cole Irvin and power-armed right-hander Vince Velasquez are the candidates to take on the Dodgers in place of injured Zach Eflin on Saturday night (see story).

Both watched as the Dodgers mauled Phillies starter Jake Arrieta for 10 hits, including three homers, and five runs on Friday night. All five runs came on homers.

“I think Jake missed with a couple of sliders and these are really good hitters and he got punished for those mistakes,” Kapler said. “This is a tremendous lineup and a good ballclub. It sucks to lose. At the same time, we understand that in order for us to beat clubs like this, we have to play our best baseball and we didn’t do that tonight.”

The Dodgers have the best record in the NL at 39-19. The Phillies have the second-best record in the NL at 33-24. But the gulf between the two teams looked bigger than that Friday night.

While the Dodgers clubbed 12 hits, including four homers, the Phillies stroked just five hits — four singles and a solo homer by Andrew McCutchen. The Phillies had just three hits through the first eight innings. Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda pitched six innings of two-run ball and gave up just three hits.

One of those hits was an RBI single to Arrieta in the fifth inning. It tied the game at 2-2. The game did not stay tied long. Arrieta gave up a homer to Joc Pederson leading off the bottom of the fifth. He then allowed a single to Max Muncy and a two-run homer to Corey Seager. Earlier in the game, Arrieta gave up a two-run shot to Muncy.

“The off-speed wasn’t very sharp tonight,” Arrieta said. “That’s why I gave up 10 hits, seven singles and the three homers. I just wasn’t very sharp with the slider, changeup or the curveball. They were able to eliminate too many pitches and they did some damage.”

Arrieta has allowed 12 homers this season, nine to lefty hitters. The Dodgers are loaded with left-handed thunder. Their first six hitters were lefty bats. All three homers against Arrieta were hit by lefty hitters.

“Not throwing great pitches when I’m trying to go inside deep,” Arrieta said. “I’m just leaving them over too much of the plate, really. That’s it. I can get lefties out. You can’t miss middle-in with spin to power-hitting left-handed hitters. You just can’t do it. That’s what I did too many times tonight.”

Entering the game, lefty hitters had an OPS of .865 against Arrieta. Righty hitters had an OPS of .598.

This series is being billed as a measuring stick for the Phillies, who have designs on breaking a seven-year playoff drought. But, remember, the calendar is only now turning to June. This Phillies team could undergo changes in the coming weeks. Certainly, the club could stand to beef up its starting pitching if it's going to go where it wants to.

“They’re a great team leading their division,” Arrieta said of the Dodgers. “We lead ours. Yeah, they’re really good. There’s no question about that. I had a chance to navigate through their lineup, pitch around some situations, just didn’t do a very good job. That’s all.”

Good luck to the guy whose job it will be to navigate the Dodgers’ lineup Saturday night.

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Bryce Harper's headband collection continues to grow with latest design for his son

Bryce Harper's headband collection continues to grow with latest design for his son

Since his time in Philadelphia began just shy of one year ago, Bryce Harper has embraced the city with open arms from the moment he arrived.

One thing that Harper is known for, outside of crushing dingers and having a monster arm in right field, is his vast headband collection that was seen throughout the season.

It’s something that he carried over from his time in Washington, but let’s be honest — the ones that he has worn here have been way cooler.

Who can forget the iconic Phanatic one, that had just about every fan running to the closest team store or taking to their phones to place an order for their own.

(Image credit: USA Today Images)

Harper truly took a liking to the Phanatic (who wouldn’t?) and even embraced the mascot via socks and cleats. Notice the details in the laces? They’re fuzzy. Seriously, who designed those? Give that person a raise.

(Credit for Images: USA Today Images)

And let’s just hope the whole Phanatic ordeal gets settled before the start of the season, so Harper can continue repping his biggest supporter.

Let’s get back to the main reason for this post — headbands.

There were many other ways he sported his new team last season, including a headband in army green, one to match the Phillies’ home uniforms and even one with stars.

(Credit for images: USA Today Images)

His latest one though, looks to be a custom design from It’s personalized with Harper’s number but more importantly, his son’s name, Krew.

(Image credit: John Clark/Twitter)

We’re not sure how Harper is going to top last year’s lineup … but he’s off to a pretty great start.

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Realmuto feeling ‘blessed’ as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

2020 Phillies spring training pitching probables: Battle for 5th starter begins this weekend

2020 Phillies spring training pitching probables: Battle for 5th starter begins this weekend

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The battle for the Phillies' fifth starter's job will get off to a quick start.

Manager Joe Girardi on Tuesday announced his starting pitchers for the first three Grapefruit League games.

Nick Pivetta will start the exhibition opener against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday in Lakeland.

Presumed opening day starter Aaron Nola will get the ball Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Clearwater.

Vince Velasquez will get the nod Monday against the Baltimore Orioles in Clearwater.

Girardi was not ready to announce any other pitching plans.

On paper, the top four spots in the Phillies' rotation appear set with Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin. Pivetta and Velasquez will vie for the fifth spot with pitchers like Ranger Suarez, Cole Irvin and prospect Damon Jones also getting a look.

"I think it's important that all these guys that are competing for the last spots get a ton of looks and we can afford to do that," Girardi said. "We have a number of games, we have split-squad games. We'll look at people. I think it's important that we do that, that we're fair to everyone because it's fair to the team that way.

"As we go forward, each start gets a little bit more important, but I think it's not fair to evaluate start 1 and start 2. That's the buildup stage."

Girardi, his staff and the front office will use a couple of factors in picking a fifth starter. Obviously, there is performance in spring training. In addition, Girardi said, the team will consider who might profile best in the bullpen. Suarez opened eyes in the bullpen last year. Velasquez and Pivetta both spent time in the rotation and the bullpen last year. One of them appears to be ticketed for the rotation and the other for the bullpen.

"The bottom line is we're going to want our 13 best pitchers to go with us and we have to kind of put that puzzle together," Girardi said.

New pitching coach Bryan Price has mentioned that a starter transitioning to the bullpen can benefit from some adjustment time because relieving is "a learned craft." In a perfect world, the Phils will identify who starts and who goes to the bullpen before the Grapefruit League schedule ends so the adjustment period can commence.

"We would like to do that," Girardi said. "That doesn't mean it will happen. If they make our job really difficult, it might get drawn out longer. And you can make it difficult two different ways — they're all pitching good or they're all scuffling."

Girardi hopes they're all pitching good.

In Price's view, a starter transitioning to the bullpen should not view the move as a slight.

"There's an emotional hurdle of not starting that has to be cleared," he said. "Some guys look at it as a demotion when it can really be something that stimulates a career and greatly impact the ballclub."

No team gets through a season with five starters. So today's reliever might be tomorrow's starter. 

"Just because we pick a fifth starter at the end of March doesn't mean things couldn't change," Girardi said.

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