Phillies

Jake Arrieta bemoans removal from game, Rhys Hoskins is angry with himself

Jake Arrieta bemoans removal from game, Rhys Hoskins is angry with himself

PHOENIX — The dejection was palpable in the Phillies clubhouse after Tuesday night’s 8-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In one corner, starting pitcher Jake Arrieta seemed a little miffed that he was not afforded the opportunity to pitch the bottom of the sixth inning, which turned out to be the turning point in the game after rookie Ranger Suarez had trouble throwing strikes on his way to giving up two runs and the lead.

Across the room, Rhys Hoskins was ticked off at himself for striking out with the bases loaded for the second out in the top of the sixth inning. Bryce Harper followed with a strikeout and the Phillies were on their way to a 2-for-17 performance with runners in scoring position and 12 men left on base (see observations).

“I need to be better,” said Hoskins, who batted second in manager Gabe Kapler’s lineup for the second straight game.

But what about the team’s overall performance with runners in scoring position?

“I’m telling you, I need to be better,” Hoskins said. “We’ve got some pretty good hitters in our lineup. I don’t know if pitchers bear down more because of the hitters that we have. I don’t know. But I think it starts with me, especially if I’m going to hit toward the top of the lineup.

“Plain and simple, I need to be better. I think if I’m better, we win that game. I’m missing pitches that I should be putting in play in those situations. It’s frustrating.”

The loss was the Phils’ third in the last five games and it left them at 59-54. They hold a half-game lead over St. Louis for the second wild-card spot in the NL.

Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a huge issue for the Phils lately. They were just 5 for 26 with runners in scoring position while losing two of three to the lowly Chicago White Sox over the weekend.

“I think guys are putting a little extra pressure on themselves, trying to get the big hit,” Kapler said. “Sometimes when you’re not able to break the game open a couple times in a row, several games in a row at times, you start to add a little extra pressure to your shoulders and this is a game where it’s important to really not try harder in those situations. It’s important to breath, relax and just take your A swing.

“We can do a better job than we’ve been doing with runners in scoring position. One of the ways we can do that is to kind of cut down on our hacks and utilize a B swing to put the ball in play, have barrel accuracy over trying to drive the ball. I’m not saying that anyone is not taking the right approach, but what I am saying is there’s always ability to cut down a little bit and look to drive the ball into the outfield.”

Kapler praised Arrieta for a “gritty performance” and said, “He gave us a good chance to win that game.” Arrieta is pitching with a bone spur in his elbow and experiences a drop in effectiveness around the fifth inning. He was able to pitch out of trouble in the fifth and get out of that inning with a one-run lead. The Diamondbacks then blew the game open with six runs against the Phillies' bullpen the next three innings. Three of the runs came on homers. Blake Parker, signed last week after being let go by Minnesota, was tagged for three runs in the seventh. The Phillies' front office might eventually regret not being more aggressive in improving the bullpen at the trade deadline.

Given his health condition, the fact that he’s averaged just 4 2/3 innings over his last six starts and the score of the game, it was completely understandable that Kapler pinch-hit for Arrieta (Roman Quinn singled) at 80 pitches with the Phils up a run in the top of the sixth.

Arrieta would have preferred to stay in the game and pitch the bottom of the sixth. In fact, he said the outcome might have been different if he did.

“I still feel like I would like to have gone one more,” he said. “I told them I’d like to stay in and they decided to pinch-hit for me. Q had a hit. He did his job. After that point, it got away from us the sixth through the eighth.

“There’s going to be times when it’s smart to take me out and times when it’s smart to let me go even though it's not comfortable. I would have liked one more.

"But it’s all right. They earned the win tonight. They just beat us. Just one of those nights when they grinded it out a little better than we did.”

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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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