Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

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Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Spectrum Field was sold out, filled with fans clad in green and smeared with sunblock for a game against the Atlanta Braves on a festive St. Paddy’s Day.
But the main event Saturday took place several hundred yards away at the minor-league complex, two hours before the big-league game even began.
Five days after signing a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies, Jake Arrieta climbed atop a mound and threw a 31-pitch (two-inning) simulated game. Scott Kingery, Jorge Alfaro, Logan Moore and Andrew Pullin were the hitters. Andrew Knapp was the catcher. Players, coaches, minor-league instructors and manager Gabe Kapler all peeked in. Dozens of fans hugged the chain-link fence to get a look at the newest Phillie. They applauded when Arrieta took the mound and again when he finished.
“It was great,” the 32-year-old pitcher said moments after the workout ended. “There’s a lot of people out here. A lot of people are excited for the Phillies in 2018. We’ve got a lot of good things going on here. A lot of guys are healthy and competing, there’s a lot of youth. It’s a really fun time to be in this organization.”
Arrieta said he felt “really good physically,” not a surprise because he came into camp in terrific shape and had gotten to over 60 pitches in bullpen sessions back home in Austin, Texas. He threw all his pitches, including a couple of knee-buckling curveballs. He broke two of Alfaro’s bats, one with a sinker, one with a cutter.
“My goal was to throw everything in the arsenal for strikes and throw my off-speed pitches in and out of the zone where I could get some chases,” Arrieta said.
Arrieta did allow some contact, mostly ground balls.
Arrieta won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Cubs. He won 22 games and had a 1.77 ERA that season.
A deceptive delivery is one of Arrieta’s strengths. He throws across his body and that crossfire action makes it difficult for a hitter to pick up the ball.
“It’s extremely deceptive,” Kingery said. “Every pitch is extremely deceptive. That’s what hit me. His curveball looks like it’s coming at your head then it drops.”
Arrieta is still hoping to be ready for the first week of the regular season, but the Phillies have not formulated a firm game plan. One thing is certain: They won’t rush him. They want him for the long haul. They could hold him back 10 days or so, allowing him to build more arm strength, and he’d still make 30 starts.
Arrieta expects to throw a bullpen session in the next day or two and try to get up around 60 pitches in his next outing. That could be in a minor-league game or in another simulated game.
“As long as we continue to get my pitch count up, I think I’ll be fine going into the season,” he said.

Phillies trade left-handed pitcher Hoby Milner to Tampa Bay Rays

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Phillies trade left-handed pitcher Hoby Milner to Tampa Bay Rays

While all eyes are on Manny Machado, the Phillies on Saturday night made a minor move.

The Phillies traded left-handed pitcher Hoby Milner to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. Milner was designated for assignment on Tuesday.

Milner, 27, began the season with the Phillies but was sent to Triple A Lehigh Valley on April 21 after allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings over 10 appearances.

In 25 appearances with the IronPigs, Milner allowed seven runs over 26 1/3 innings. He struck out 28 batters and walked 14.

A 2012 seventh-round pick, Milner came north with the Phillies out of spring training as the team's lefty specialist but couldn't replicate the success he had in 2017.

Last season, the lefty posted a 2.01 ERA in 37 games (31 1/3 innings). That was a far cry from the pitcher the Phillies saw in 2018.

In Game 1 of the Gabe Kapler era, the first-year manager opted to replace Aaron Nola with one out in the sixth inning and the Phillies up 5-0 in Atlanta to face Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. Milner served up a two-run homer to Freeman. The Phillies ended up losing, 8-5, on a walk-off homer from Markakis (see story).

Milner was also the pitcher Kapler called into action on April 1, Game 3 of the Kapler era, without ever throwing any legitimate warm-up pitches (see story).

Since then, however, Kapler has proven to be a capable major-league manager. The Phillies are in first place of the NL East with one game left before the All-Star break.

And now, Milner finds himself a new opportunity to prove himself again.

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Phillies' shutout loss to Marlins magnifies need for Manny Machado trade

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Phillies' shutout loss to Marlins magnifies need for Manny Machado trade


MIAMI — This was a game that magnified a Phillies’ weakness, a game that begged for some offensive pop, a game that cried out for …

Manny Machado.

As trade speculation surrounding the Baltimore slugger continued to simmer, the Phillies wasted a strong pitching performance by Aaron Nola and the bullpen in a 2-0 loss to the lowly Miami Marlins on Saturday afternoon (see First Take).

The Phillies out-hit the Marlins, 8-4, but had just one extra-base hit. They had 10 base runners on the day. A big hit here or there and it might have been a different outcome.

Despite winning six of the first 10 games on this 11-game roadtrip, the Phillies have been shut out twice in the last four games and held to just 24 runs in the last nine. For the season, they have a .391 slugging percentage, which ranks 23rd in the majors. They rank 17th in homers with 104.

The Phils need more pop.

They know that.

That’s why they are one of the most aggressive participants in the Machado sweepstakes. Machado entered Saturday night with 23 homers and 64 RBIs and a .951 OPS.

Manager Gabe Kapler is not worried about the power.

He says more is coming.

Does he know something we don't?

“I can say that I have a lot of confidence going forward that we'll produce power,” he said. “We have pop. We have strength. Our guys have hit for power in the past. Rhys (Hoskins) definitely has another stretch of power coming. Odubel (Herrera) has another stretch of power coming. Carlos (Santana) has another stretch of power coming. Sometimes, these things ebb and flow. But these guys have produced power in the past. So we expect that there's going to be more power coming.”

Maybe more of that power will come from Machado.

Despite the loss, the Phillies remained in first place in the NL East, 1 ½ games ahead of Atlanta, which has lost eight of its last 10 games, and 6 ½ games ahead of Washington. Before Saturday’s game, Phillies club president Andy MacPhail indicated that the division was winnable and said the club was looking to augment its roster (see story). He did not mention Machado by name — there are rules against that — but it’s clear that the Phillies want him.

Stay tuned on that one.

The Phillies will finish up their road trip and head into the All-Star break after Sunday’s game against the Marlins. The Phils still have a chance to win the series, but they will have to do it with rookie Enyel De Los Santos on the mound and not Zach Eflin. Eflin has battled a stubborn blister on his right middle finger. The Phils want to give it a chance to heal so he was scratched as Sunday’s scheduled starter and placed on the disabled list. The problem should be gone by the time he makes his first start after the All-Star break. In the meantime, the Phillies — and everyone else — get another look at De Los Santos, who won his big-league debut against the Mets with 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball Tuesday. It would not be out of the question for the Phillies to use De Los Santos in a trade.

The Phillies will need to give De Los Santos more offensive help than they gave Nola on Saturday. The Phillies had not lost a game started by Nola since June 6 and the right-hander had not personally lost since May 20.

Nola had an interesting start. He labored through the first inning and gave up two runs while throwing 31 pitches. Over the next five innings, however, he did not allow a run while giving up just one hit and throwing an economical 62 pitches. In other words, he was Nola.

“I just put my head down and kept pitching,” he said.

Nola kept his team in the game, but the offense never arrived to bail him out. Miami right-hander Trevor Richards, who entered with an ERA over 5.00, held the Phils to four hits over six shutout innings.

“I thought Noles was excellent again today,” Kapler said. “Obviously, the first inning, there was a lot of work. Some balls found some holes. That turned out to be enough to beat us. But I still thought he had a tremendous first half. Man, was he dependable from the very beginning of the season all the way till today.”

Nola heads to the All-Star Game at 12-3 with a 2.30 ERA in 20 starts. He had an excellent first half and so has the team. Even with a loss Sunday, the Phils will go into the break in first place.

“This team’s been playing pretty well,” Nola said. “Unfortunately, we took the loss today but we’re going for a series win tomorrow. I think to get that before the break is pretty important.”

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