Braves 2, Phillies 1: Little offense for Nola as Phillies are swept

Braves 2, Phillies 1: Little offense for Nola as Phillies are swept


ATLANTA — Though they are eliminated from postseason contention, the Phillies still have something to play for.

They are trying to avoid the ignominy that will come with being 15 games over .500 in early August and not finishing with a winning record.

It’s not going to be easy given the way this team has played for almost two months. The Phillies lost 2-1 Sunday — they left the bases loaded in the ninth — as the Atlanta Braves completed a four-game sweep one day after clinching the NL East title and bouncing the Phils from the race.

The Phillies are 78-77. They need to win four of their final seven games to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2011. Four of those games are against Colorado and three are against Atlanta next weekend in Philadelphia. 

Another elimination

Sunday’s loss officially eliminated the Phils from wild-card contention.

The swoon

The Phils are 15-29 since Aug. 5 when they led the NL East by 1½ game.

Nola's finale

Aaron Nola pitched six innings of two-run ball but took the loss. He is 16-6 with a 2.45 ERA in 32 starts. He is at 205 1/3 innings, far and away a career-high. He has racked up 216 strikeouts and walked just 54.

Nola is scheduled to make his last start of the season Friday night in Philadelphia. With the team out of the race and Nola’s Cy Young chances dimming, it would not be surprising if the Phils held the right-hander out of that start and saved some bullets for next season. More on that later.

Odubel being Odubel

Down a run in the top of the sixth, Odubel Herrera reached base on a one-out infield hit. He was then picked off by lefty Max Fried. Herrera flinched but made no real attempt to get back to the bag and was tagged out easily. When the pickoff was replayed on the huge center-field video board, audible chuckles could be heard coming from the crowd.

Slump buster

One of the four hits that Nola gave up was to Anibal Sanchez, the opposing starter. Sanchez had been hitless in his previous 54 at-bats, including 0 for 38 with 24 strikeouts this season.

Up next

The Phillies open their final road series of the year Monday night with the first of four against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Phillies are 31-46 on the road.

The Rockies are very much alive in the NL West and wild card races and they kill the ball at home. They average 5.23 runs per game at home, the highest mark in the NL, and lead the majors in home batting average (.284) and OPS (.832).

The Phillies scheduled starters for the series are Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and Jake Arrieta. Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela are scheduled for Colorado.

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

AP Images

Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Baseball America’s always interesting Top 100 Prospects list landed this week and the Phillies are represented with two players in the top half.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard ranks 27th on the list and third baseman Alec Bohm 28th. Both players are projected to open the coming season at Triple A and get to the majors at some point in 2020. Both have been invited to major-league spring training camp, which begins in less than three weeks in Clearwater. See the complete list of Phillies’ in-house non-roster invites here.

Howard, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2017. We profiled him here.

In its story on the Top 100 prospects, Baseball America offered this take on Howard: Triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and the ability to work the edges of the strike zone, Howard flashes front-end potential.

Bohm, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS at three levels, including Double A in 2019. We profiled him here.

Baseball America offered this take on Bohm: Even with questions about whether he’ll have to move to first base, Bohm has the feel to hit and plus power to hit in the middle of the Phillies’ order, and soon.

Shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list for the second year in a row. The Rays placed eight players on the list. Because of a loaded farm system, the Rays were unable to protect left-hander Cristopher Sanchez on their 40-man roster and the Phillies traded for him in November. Read about Sanchez here.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed seven players on the list and the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres had six each.

The Miami Marlins led National League East teams with five players in the Top 100, including former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who was traded for J.T. Realmuto a year ago. Sanchez ranks 16th on the list and is projected to arrive in the majors sometime in 2020.

The Atlanta Braves placed four players on the list and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets joined the Phillies with two players.

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