Four of Braves' in-season pickups stop maddeningly inconsistent Phillies

Four of Braves' in-season pickups stop maddeningly inconsistent Phillies


One night after blasting five home runs in a winning effort, the maddeningly inconsistent Phillies were held to just five singles in a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

The Braves have won two of three in the four-game series that ends Thursday night.

The loss meant the Phillies could potentially lose ground in the NL wild-card race. They entered the day two games back but could slip to three games back depending on the outcome of the Cubs-Padres game in San Diego. Milwaukee, which entered Wednesday a game back in the race, won its game at Miami. The Mets also won their game to pull even with the Phillies in the crowded wild-card race.

The Phillies have 17 games left.

The Phillies got excellent work from their bullpen after starter Zach Eflin did not make it through the fourth inning. Eflin gave up all three of the Braves’ runs and they were all unearned.

No pop

The Phillies had just three singles through the first eight innings. They had a pair of infield hits in the ninth, but could not push any runs across.

Sparse crowd

It appears as if much of sporting Philadelphia has inoculated itself against wild-card fever. The announced attendance was just 23,243, smallest of the season at Citizens Bank Park. Capacity is 42,792.

Attendance was 25,071 and 24,220 in the first two games of the series.

Eflin’s night

The right-hander entered the game riding a streak of three strong starts in which he had success featuring his two-seam fastball. Eflin continued to use the pitch, though he leaned on his slider and four-seam fastball significantly, as well. Command was a problem for Eflin. He ran a high pitch count and lasted just 3 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs, all on a three-run homer by Tyler Flowers with two outs in the top of the fourth inning. Flowers hit a 2-2 four-seam fastball. All of the runs were unearned after an error by shortstop Jean Segura.

Keuchel’s night

Veteran left-hander Dallas Keuchel pitched very well for the second time in two starts this season against the Phillies. He allowed just three hits and a run over six innings.

Keuchel remained a free agent until June. The Phillies considered the idea of signing him, but in the end weren’t all that interested. He signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Braves and is now 8-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts for them. In other words, he’s been a very nice pickup.

One of the knocks against Keuchel as he lingered on the free-agent market last winter was that his strikeout totals had come down while his hits per nine innings had swelled. Keuchel’s stuff played well in this one. He got 10 swings and misses, mostly on his slider and changeup, and struck out eight.

After Keuchel left, the Braves got three scoreless innings from the trio of Chris Martin, Shane Greene and Mark Melancon. All three joined the Braves in trades at the July deadline.

Big missed chance

Down by two runs, the Phillies had Keuchel on the ropes in the fifth inning. He allowed a one-out single to pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin then walked Jean Segura and hit J.T. Realmuto with a pitch to load the bases for Bryce Harper. The Phils had the man they wanted at the plate, but Keuchel was up to the challenge. He got Harper to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play for the game’s biggest out.

The Phils had another threat with two outs in the bottom of the eighth but it ended when Rhys Hoskins stroked a soft liner to shortstop.

Hot bat down

Corey Dickerson, who came into the game with 34 RBIs in his first 33 games with the Phillies, left the game in the sixth inning with left foot soreness. Losing him for any amount of time would hurt.

Up next

The series concludes on Thursday night with Drew Smyly (3-6, 6.65) taking on Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran (10-8, 3.31).

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Phillies make a minor trade, sign a familiar utility man on final day of winter meetings

Phillies make a minor trade, sign a familiar utility man on final day of winter meetings

SAN DIEGO — The Phillies wrapped up the winter meetings with a blip of activity in the Rule 5 draft Thursday. The club selected Vimael Machin, a shortstop from the Chicago Cubs organization, with the 15th pick in the draft and quickly traded him to the Oakland A’s in a cash deal.
The Phillies lost no players in draft.
The Phillies did make an addition before leaving the meetings. According to sources, the club re-signed utility man Phil Gosselin to a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league spring training camp.
Gosselin, 31, played in 44 games for the Phillies last season and hit .262. He was 10 for 32 with three RBIs as a pinch-hitter. He played left field, shortstop and third base. Gosselin spent the bulk of the season at Triple A Lehigh Valley, where he hit .314 with 8 homers, 47 RBIs and a .901 OPS in 296 at-bats.
Active rosters will expand from 25 to 26 players next season so Gosselin will be in play for a spot on the lengthened bench along with veteran infielder Josh Harrison and others. Harrison recently signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies.
Gosselin, a West Chester native, played at Malvern Prep and the University of Virginia. He has played in the majors with the Braves, Pirates, Reds, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Phillies.

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Sounds like Odubel Herrera is a goner as Phillies’ GM backs Adam Haseley for starting CF job

Sounds like Odubel Herrera is a goner as Phillies’ GM backs Adam Haseley for starting CF job

SAN DIEGO  — Phillies general manager Matt Klentak all but anointed Adam Haseley as the team’s starting centerfielder for the 2020 season on Wednesday and in doing so offered his strongest indication yet that Odubel Herrera will not be part of the club.

“I expect that Adam Haseley's going to be our regular centerfielder,” Klentak said on Day 3 of baseball’s winter meetings. “But having said that, I recognize that when Roman Quinn is healthy and playing to his potential, it's hard to take him out of the lineup. I think that combination of players likely takes down the majority of our center field reps this year.”

Klentak went on to say he expected Jay Bruce to be part of the club and “cover us on the corners,” as a backup to Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper as well as a bat off the bench.

That’s five outfielders and no Herrera.

By now you know the story. Herrera was suspended for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic violence last May. As a matter of procedure, he has been reinstated to the 40-man roster, but there is no guarantee he will part of the team in 2020. In fact, it seems quite doubtful based on how team officials have glossed over him  — he’s basically a forgotten man  — whenever talking about plans for the coming season. Klentak’s strong backing of a Haseley-Quinn tandem in center field next season was the latest example.

Herrera, who turns 28 this month, was the Phillies’ starting centerfielder for four-plus seasons before his suspension, and he has two years and more than $20 million remaining on his contract. When Major League Baseball and the Players Association forged its joint policy on domestic violence, both sides agreed that a player violating the policy could not have his contract voided. To move on from Herrera, the Phillies would have to eat the remainder of his salary and prove that they were releasing him for purely baseball reasons. The emergence of Haseley, who came up in June last season, and the desire to see more of him in 2020 sure sounds like a baseball reason.

“He has a guaranteed contract for this year and next,” Klentak said of Herrera. “He's getting paid. When he left the team in the spring, he was the everyday center fielder and what he's coming back to now is a much different situation. 

“It’s just a different landscape than before Odubel was suspended. That’s the crux of the issue here.”

The Phillies probably won’t feel any pressure to make a call on Herrera’s future until spring training draws near. If he comes to camp, he will have to earn his way onto the active roster. 

“Anything that happens from here on out is going to be performance driven and he has to earn whatever he’s going to get. His standing on our club is impacted by both how he performs, but also what happens around him. Some of this is within his control and some it is not. He’s in Miami, he’s working out and he’s getting himself in good shape. He understands that he’s going to have to earn whatever he gets in his career and he’s taking that seriously.”

Haseley, who will play at age 24 next season, was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2017. He was a big favorite of Klentak for his ability to control the strike zone (i.e., work counts, limit strike outs, get on base) at the University of Virginia. He was called up from the minors when McCutchen blew out his ACL in June and hit .266 with 14 doubles, five homers, 26 RBIs and a .720 OPS in 222 at-bats. He walked just 14 times and struck out 60.

“In a perfect world, he would have spent more time in the minor leagues,” Klentak said. “But with McCutchen getting hurt, we felt it was the right time to be a little more aggressive. He had some ups and downs. It wasn’t a perfect rookie season. But I think he gives a real good at-bat. He’s got a very good idea of the strike zone — he had that as an amateur and he started to show it at the big-league level. I know his walk-to-strikeout totals weren’t great but I think if you watch his at-bats, I think you can see he has that skill and as he starts to become more comfortable at this level we’ll start to see that more and more.

“I was also impressed with his defense so I think when you look at the body of work over three months that he was in the big leagues that’s a pretty impressive rookie season and I think there’s reason for optimism that he’ll be better than that (in 2020).”

From Jake Arrieta to Zack Wheeler to McCutchen and Harper, the Phillies have spent big on free agents over the last couple of years, and they still want to extend J.T. Realmuto’s contract later this winter. Most teams cannot survive by signing high-priced talents all over the diamond. For sustainability reasons, some of that talent has to be young, homegrown, and by extension, inexpensive.

So say hello to Adam Haseley in 2020. 

“I think he’s going to be a really good player,” Klentak said. “And as important as anything, our team needs to make sure that we are giving opportunities to young players when the time is right and when those players deserve it. With the way that our roster is unfolding - we have the center field spot (open) and a good young player who we really like who showed well for himself in his rookie year  — it makes sense for us to let him get the reps out there.”

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