Dallas Keuchel calls out Phillies management after handcuffing Phillies hitters

Dallas Keuchel calls out Phillies management after handcuffing Phillies hitters

This one stung.

On the field.

In the standings.

All the way up to the front-office suite.

The Phillies' playoff hopes were bruised in a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night and the man who delivered much of the bruising was none other than pitcher Dallas Keuchel.

The left-hander held the Phillies to a run over six innings. He is 8-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts since signing with the Braves in early June.

The Phillies had starting pitching needs, not to mention a need for a left-hander, and were mentioned throughout the winter and spring as a potential landing spot for Keuchel. In actuality, however, the Phils showed little interest in Keuchel and he signed a one-year, $13 million contract with the Braves, who have won 91 games and are days away from wrapping up their second straight NL East title.

After the game, Keuchel called out Phillies management when he was asked if the Phils' lack of interest in him fueled any extra motivation leading up to the start.

"I mean, if you don't come calling what is there for me to be mad about?" he said. "I think a lot of those guys over there in the front office are second-guessing themselves, and, I mean, I would too."

Keuchel, 31, won the American League Cy Young Award with Houston in 2015 and was an All-Star in 2017. Despite his resume, he lingered on the free-agent market last winter as teams were leery of his declining strikeout numbers and rising hits totals.

Keuchel had no problem with either Wednesday night. He held the Phillies to three hits and struck out eight. He threw 97 pitches and got 10 swings-and-misses, mostly on sliders and changeups.

"Had the sinker, kept the ball down, executed his changeup, got some swings-and-misses, got some ground balls," manager Gabe Kapler said.

Keuchel's biggest out came in the bottom of the fifth after he had loaded the bases on a single, a walk and a hit batsman with one out in a two-run game.

The Phillies had the man they wanted at the plate.

But Keuchel got Bryce Harper to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play.

"I think Keuchel threw the ball well," Harper said. "He's good. I thought he mixed pretty well. I had the opportunity with the bases loaded and one out but missed that first-pitch changeup and had to battle from there. I have to get the job done there and wasn't able to. That's about the only opportunity we had. As a team, I thought we battled. We only had three hits (through eight innings) and we have to be better as an offense and hit better."

Harper and Keuchel are both represented by super agent Scott Boras.

Harper was asked if he was surprised that no one jumped on Keuchel earlier.

"Yeah," said Harper, who in March signed for 13 years and $330 million with the Phillies. "He's a Cy Young winner for a reason. If you have an opportunity to go out and get a guy like that, I think all 29 teams should have that. But that's how the game is right now and that's how it goes. I thought Keuchel came out tonight and threw the ball really well."

Keuchel was not the only Braves in-season pitching acquisition to contribute to Wednesday night's win over the Phillies. After Keuchel left, the Braves got three scoreless innings from the bullpen trio of Chris Martin, Shane Greene and Mark Melancon. All three joined the Braves in trades at the July deadline.

One night after bashing five homers in a 6-5 win over the Braves, the Phils had just five singles for the game. Two of them were infield hits in the ninth.

"It's frustrating," Kapler said of the offensive inconsistency. "But you're not going to get too high or too low. You're not going to act like you won the World Series after you win a game and we're not going get too distraught after we lose a game. We come back tomorrow to compete."

Phillies starter Zach Eflin ran a high pitch count and did not get out of the fourth inning. He allowed a three-run homer to Tyler Flowers with two outs in that inning. All the runs were unearned after an error by shortstop Jean Segura.

It was a difficult loss and not just because Keuchel, whose 3.35 ERA would lead the Phillies staff, was there for the taking just a few months ago. Another day slipped away on the schedule and the Phils did not pick up ground in the wild-card chase. They remain two games behind the Cubs and Brewers for the second wild-card spot.

Seventeen games remain on the Phillies' schedule, including three against the Braves in Atlanta next week.

If the Braves stay on turn, guess who will pitch Tuesday night's series opener.

Yep. Keuchel again.

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Joe Maddon hired by Angels, officially off the board for Phillies manager opening

Joe Maddon hired by Angels, officially off the board for Phillies manager opening

The first of the eight manager jobs open across Major League Baseball to begin this offseason has been filled.

The Los Angeles Angles on Wednesday announced the hiring of Joe Maddon. Maddon's contract is reportedly for three years. A native of West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Maddon has a long history in the Angels organization. Between 1975 and 2006, Maddon played and managed in the team's minor-league system, served as a coach with the Major League club and assumed the role of interim manager.

Maddon has a 1,251-1,068 record as a manager in the major leagues. He led the Tampa Bay Rays to an American League pennant in 2008 and skippered the Chicago Cubs to a World Series in 2016, their first championship since 1908. Maddon will take over an Angels team that finished 72-90 in 2019, led by two-time MVP Mike Trout.

Though Maddon might have appeared to be an attractive name for the Phillies job, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker are the only candidates known for the position at the moment, according to Jim Salisbury. Baker is meeting with Phillies officials Wednesday, and a hire could come quickly, per Salisbury (see story).

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports Showalter was the runner-up for the Angles job.

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It's clear Phillies want an experienced manager — could a hire come quickly?

It's clear Phillies want an experienced manager — could a hire come quickly?

Phillies officials are busy again Wednesday as they look to fill the team’s open manager’s position.

According to sources, club officials are meeting Wednesday with veteran skipper Dusty Baker.

The meeting comes after team officials interviewed Buck Showalter on Monday. It is believed that club officials also met with Joe Girardi on Monday.

At the moment, these are the only known candidates for the Phillies’ job, though more could emerge. 

Between them, Baker, Showalter and Girardi have 53 years of big-league managing experience and they have won a combined seven manager of the year awards and 13 division titles. Girardi led the New York Yankees to the World Series title in 2009. His club beat the Phillies in six games.

At a news conference Friday, the day after the Phillies announced Gabe Kapler’s firing, team officials were not specific when asked what qualities they were looking for in a new manager. But by focusing on Girardi, Showalter and Baker, the Phillies are clearly looking for big-league experience in their next skipper, and a person with knowledge of the Phillies’ thinking confirmed this.

“They want major-league experience,” the person said. 

If the Phillies’ search is limited to just Girardi, Showalter and Baker, the club could conceivably make a quick hire — maybe as soon as next week. Monday is a scheduled off day between the League Championship Series and World Series. Thursday is a scheduled off day between Games 2 and 3 of the World Series. Major League Baseball frowns on significant announcements during the postseason but it could OK a managerial announcement on an off day.

If the World Series goes seven games, it would end on October 30.

It is not clear who the Phillies’ top candidate is. It very well could be Girardi because of his experience working with a front office that values the use of analytics in building a roster and running a game. The Yankees are one of baseball’s analytic powerhouses. Girardi, however, is a former catcher who also relies on feel in running a game. That balance could be attractive to the Phillies.

Girardi has also interviewed for the Chicago Cubs’ manager’s job and is said to be on the list of candidates for the New York Mets’ opening. Showalter and Baker have not been mentioned, at least publicly, for other openings. Showalter has extensive connections to the Phillies’ front office. He worked closely with several high-ranking Phillies officials during their time in Baltimore. Showalter skippered the Orioles from 2010 through 2018. He is very interested in the Phillies' job and, according to sources, has done homework on the team's roster.

Baker has 22 years of big-league managerial experience and is a three-time NL manager of the year. He last managed the Washington Nationals in 2017 and led that club to 97 wins and the NL East title.

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