Phillies

David Robertson's weapons, Matt Klentak's sneaky move and 10 other notes on Phillies pitchers

David Robertson's weapons, Matt Klentak's sneaky move and 10 other notes on Phillies pitchers

The Phillies' pitching staff to start the season didn't see as much turnover as the position players. The Phils return all five of their starting pitchers from 2018, and five of the eight relievers were with them last season.

Yesterday, we went over some of the most interesting notes and facts about the Phillies' position players. Today, pitchers.

Aaron Nola
Nola last season was one of only 10 pitchers in the last 34 years with an ERA (2.37) and opponents' batting average (.197) so low in at least 210 innings. The only two to accomplish it last season were Nola and Jacob deGrom.

Nola threw more first-pitch strikes last season than anyone in baseball.

Nick Pivetta
Pivetta's 4.77 ERA was a full run higher than any starting pitcher in baseball who had a strikeout rate and walk rate as good or better. His K and BB rates were among the best in the league.

Jake Arrieta
Arrieta led the National League with a groundball rate of 51.6 percent. Nola was second at 50.6. 

Zach Eflin
Eflin nearly doubled his strikeout rate last season, from 4.9 per nine innings in 2017 to 8.6 last season. No other pitcher with a strikeout rate so low in 2017 was above 6.6 in 2018.

Vince Velasquez
Of Velasquez's 69 starts as a Phillie, 33 have lasted longer than five innings.

Seranthony Dominguez
His .157 opponents' batting average last season was third-best in the NL, behind only Josh Hader and Reyes Moronta.

David Robertson
Robertson's calling card is his cutter, but his curveball has held lefties to a .103 batting average since his debut in 2008.

Pat Neshek
Neshek has not allowed a run in 66 of his 73 appearances as a Phillie — that's 90 percent.

Hector Neris
From Aug. 1 on, Neris struck out 51 percent of the batters he faced, best in the majors.

Adam Morgan
Morgan pitched the exact same number of innings before and after the All-Star break last season (24⅔). In the second half, he had a 2.55 ERA and allowed one home run in 28 appearances.

Juan Nicasio
What a strange season Nicasio is coming off of. He had a 6.00 ERA despite 53 strikeouts and just five walks. It was an example of when pounding the strike zone goes wrong. His opponents hit .308 with a .500 slugging percentage.

Jose Alvarez
Moving reliever Luis Garcia for a legit lefty specialist was a sneaky-good move by Phillies GM Matt Klentak. Alvarez last season held lefties to a .206 batting average and .265 OBP. 

Over the last two seasons, Alvarez has 60 strikeouts and 10 walks against lefties.

Edubray Ramos
Ramos' slider can be quite a weapon. He threw that pitch 57 percent of the time last season and it held his opponents to a .167 opponents' batting average. That pitch ended 102 at-bats and only three of those sliders ended up as extra-base hits.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

Larry Bowa recalls two special seasons with (almost unanimous) Hall of Famer Derek Jeter

Larry Bowa recalls two special seasons with (almost unanimous) Hall of Famer Derek Jeter

Larry Bowa asked a question Tuesday afternoon.

“You think he’ll be unanimous?”

Derek Jeter was a 14-time All-Star and a five-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees. He won a Rookie of the Year award, was a World Series MVP and finished in the top 10 in American League MVP voting eight times. He won five Gold Gloves at shortstop and finished his career with 3,465 hits. Only Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker had more.

We’re talking rare air here, folks.

We’re talking icon.

So, six hours before the official Hall of Fame announcement was to come down early Tuesday night, the question that Bowa posed wasn’t whether Jeter would make it through the doors of Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility – that was a slam-dunk, take-it-to-the-bank, lead-pipe cinch – it was would he be just the second player ever to be elected unanimously.

“He should be,” Bowa said.

The answer to Bowa’s question came soon enough.

No, Jeter did not make it into the Hall unanimously, as his great Yankee teammate Mariano Rivera did the year before. But he still received historic support as he sailed into Hardball Heaven on his first try.

Jeter appeared on 396 of the 397 ballots cast by voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Voters are encouraged but not required to make their ballots public. The identity of the one writer who did not vote for Jeter was not immediately known. That person will likely come forward at some point, not that it will matter a whole lot in the final analysis. The 99.7 percent of the vote that Jeter did receive is the highest ever for a position player.

Hard-hitting outfielder Larry Walker, an MVP and three-time National League batting champ, was also elected. He made it by six votes in his 10th and final year on the writers’ ballot.

Former Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling missed by 20 votes, but his 70 percent bodes well for future election. He needs to get to 75 percent of the vote in his final two years on the ballot.

Another former Phillie, third baseman Scott Rolen, received 35.3 percent of the vote in his third year on the ballot.

Bowa, the great former Phillies shortstop and manager, played 2,222 games at shortstop, seventh-most all time. Jimmy Rollins played 2,227 games at short, sixth-most all-time. Omar Vizquel ranks first on the list at 2,709 and Jeter is second at 2,674.

Bowa enjoyed an up-close look at Jeter’s greatness during the 2006 and 2007 seasons when he was third-base coach for the Yankees. Jeter still had another seven seasons to go in his career, but even at that point, Bowa knew he was looking at a Hall of Famer.

“He just had an aura about him that said, ‘If you want to be a big-leaguer, watch me,’ “ Bowa recalled. “It was that way in everything he did. He never sulked if he didn’t get any hits.

“In my two years there, I don’t think I ever saw him make a mental mistake. He was always well prepared. He was very coachable and open to advice. He never jogged. He always played the right way. In big situations with the game on the line, he wanted to be at the plate. And he produced.”

Bowa compared Jeter to a couple of players he managed with the Phillies, one a Hall of Famer, one a potential Hall of Famer.

“He reminded me of Jim Thome, the way he handled himself,” Bowa said. “Very humble guys. Both team-first. If it was the eighth inning and a guy led off with a double, you didn’t have to tell Jeter to get the ball to the right side and get him over to third.

“He was a little bit like Chase Utley. You wind him up in April, say good luck and have a good year, and at the end of year he’d have a great season. He could have played without any leader or manager. Incredible work ethic.”

Like any other player, Jeter could have an off day, though not often. Bowa recalled a time in 2007 when the Yankees played an awful game. 

“I think it was a Sunday game,” Bowa said. “It might have been the worst game I’d ever seen the Yankees play.”

The performance left manager Joe Torre quietly seething. He called the team together after the game.

“I’d never seen Joe angry before,” Bowa said. “He usually got with guys one-on-one in his office if he wasn’t happy and no one knew about it. But this time, we played so bad that he felt like he had to get everyone together.”

Torre didn’t go after the 25th man.

He went right for the heart – Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

“He was all over them,” Bowa said. “It was the only time I ever saw Joe get on a guy like that. There was no swearing or anything like that, but he literally pointed them out and told them they were better than that and he expected more.”

The next day, Jeter was getting ready to do some early work with Bowa in the infield. Bowa asked him about what had gone down the day before.

“Jeter was completely accountable,” Bowa said. “He said he deserved it. That really showed me something. Here was a guy putting together a Hall of Fame career and he just got it. He didn’t take it personally.”

And he won’t take not being a unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame personally, either.

Ninety-nine-point-seven percent.

We’re still talking rare air here, folks.

“The guy was just solid, man,” Larry Bowa said. “So professional. Just a pleasure to watch. I’m really happy for him.” 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

Make that 2 buy-low bullpen moves for the Phillies

Make that 2 buy-low bullpen moves for the Phillies


Drew Storen wasn't the only reliever the Phillies added early this week.

The Phils also agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran right-hander Bud Norris, according to Robert Murray.

The Phillies worked out Norris late last season but did not sign him.

Norris last pitched in 2018 with the Cardinals. He was pretty effective, posting a 3.59 ERA in 57⅔ innings with 67 strikeouts. He saved 28 games.

Relievers are so volatile from year to year that it stands to reason one of Storen or Norris will recapture some success in 2020. The Phillies have seen quite clearly over the last two seasons that big relief contracts are a gamble. They paid David Robertson, Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek a combined $57 million and all three dealt with long-term injuries.

The big wild-card in the Phils' bullpen is Seranthony Dominguez, who missed most of last season with arm injuries but could be a much-needed and useful weapon if he can revert to his 2018 form.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies