Phillies

Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 0: Phillies waste impressive performance by Zach Eflin

Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 0: Phillies waste impressive performance by Zach Eflin

BOX SCORE

Zach Eflin pitched one of the best games all season from a Phillies starter but received no run support in a 2-0 loss to the Diamondbacks.

The D-backs' only runs came across in the fifth inning on three straight softly hit bloop singles and a sacrifice fly. Eflin was in complete control the entire night, inducing two inning-ending double plays and a ton of soft contact. He retired the first nine batters of the game and worked efficiently all night, throwing just 82 pitches over eight innings.

Unfortunately for him, Merrill Kelly was even better. The Arizona right-hander pitched 7⅔ scoreless innings, put only three men on base and struck out five. It was his third consecutive start of at least seven innings and no more than one run allowed.

The Phillies had just three hits, two from Nick Williams, who doubled and singled. The other was an infield single by J.T. Realmuto.

Williams started in right field for Bryce Harper, who was out of the Phillies' lineup for the first time all season (see story). Harper pinch-hit with two outs and the bases empty in the eighth inning and lined out to center off D-backs lefty reliever Andrew Chafin.

Thursday is the Phils' only off day until July 1, and then they're in Atlanta for three big games against the Braves.

This series loss to the Diamondbacks was the Phillies' first at home since May 13-16 against the Brewers.

At 2 hours, 16 minutes, it was the fastest Phillies game of the season.

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Eflin took advantage of the D-backs' free-swinging ways to strike out eight and get six more outs on the ground. Even the balls to the outfield were cans of corn.

The outing lowered his ERA to 2.81. The only thing that kept him from going complete was the Phillies' need for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth.

Eflin had that surprisingly poor outing on April 13 in Miami. In his other 12 starts, he has a 2.25 ERA. He's been the Phillies' best starting pitcher this season by far.

Slumping Cesar

Cesar Hernandez is 5 for 50 over his last 13 games and has a .222 on-base percentage since replacing Andrew McCutchen in the leadoff spot. Hernandez is every bit as cold in June as he was hot in May.

The Phillies don't have many great options out of the leadoff spot. Scott Kingery has been hitting of late but moving him to the leadoff spot could cause him to alter his approach, which is the last thing you'd want right now. It's not the same as moving up from seventh to sixth or sixth to fifth. Out of the leadoff spot, a hitter's approach can change even subconsciously as he tries to do the things he thinks a leadoff man should, like take pitches. That is not Kingery's game.

Roman Quinn could be an option in the leadoff spot when he's ready to return, which will likely be this weekend in Atlanta. Quinn wasn't hitting at the time of his groin injury, but he has since given up switch-hitting and is just in a different frame of mind. Don't be surprised if he's much more productive upon his return.

Injury updates

Quinn (groin) and Pat Neshek (shoulder) could return in the Braves series.

Adam Morgan (flexor strain) could be back late next week as long as the two bullpen sessions he's scheduled for these next four days go well.

Tommy Hunter (flexor strain) shouldn't be too far behind, and David Robertson (elbow) played catch Tuesday for the first time since going on the IL two months ago.

Up next

After Thursday's off day, the Phillies open an important three-game series in Atlanta against a Braves team that has won 20 of 29.

Friday night at 7:20 — Nick Pivetta (4-1, 4.93) vs. LHP Max Fried (7-3, 3.75)

Saturday night at 7:20 — Aaron Nola (6-1, 4.58) vs. TBA

Sunday afternoon at 1:20 — TBA vs. Mike Foltynewicz (1-5, 6.02)

The Phillies have not decided yet whether Sunday's start will go to Cole Irvin, Enyel De Los Santos or an opener.

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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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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