Phillies

Mets regretting Marcus Stroman trade? Drew Smyly easily outduels struggling Stroman in Phillies win

Mets regretting Marcus Stroman trade? Drew Smyly easily outduels struggling Stroman in Phillies win

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NEW YORK — Without Bryce Harper, the Phillies had no trouble hitting around Marcus Stroman in Saturday night's 5-0 win.

The Phillies pounded Stroman for five runs on 10 hits in the first four innings. Cesar Hernandez and J.T. Realmuto, batting 1 and 2, went 6 for 6 the first three times through the order against the Mets' big trade deadline acquisition.

The fading Phils needed a night like this because they were missing their most important player, had Drew Smyly on the mound and much of the bullpen was unavailable.

Smyly met the task with seven scoreless innings.

The win makes the Phillies 73-68. They are three games behind the Cubs for the second wild-card spot. They are 1½ games behind the Diamondbacks, tied with the Brewers and a game ahead of the Mets.

1. Mets questioning their trade?

Stroman has been disappointing in seven starts with the Mets, pitching well only once, last Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies were on him all night this time.

In 35⅔ innings with the Mets, Stroman has allowed 20 earned runs, 48 hits and 62 baserunners. Jason Vargas has out-pitched him since the trade deadline, which means nothing moving forward but is yet another example that acquiring a big name at the trade deadline does not always mean you're getting the best of that player over two months.

The Phillies, too, were in on Stroman. Just imagine what the reaction would be had the Phillies traded two of their top pitching prospects for him like the Mets did and he pitched this way.

2. Big night for the boys up top

Hernandez, Realmuto and Corey Dickerson went a combined 8 for 15 with five RBI and three runs scored. 

Hernandez began the game with a home run and singled in the Phillies' second run. 

Realmuto collected three more singles and is hitting 324/.374/.676 with 14 doubles, two triples, 11 homers and 33 RBI over his last 37 games.

Dickerson had a big hit to break the game open in the fourth, a two-run double down the right-field line. He has been a machine with runners in scoring position for the Phillies, going 15 for 41 (.366) with five doubles, two triples and 21 RBI. 

3. Sterling outfield defense

Adam Haseley made another tremendous catch, this time in right field. He did not rob a home run as he did in Cincinnati, but Haseley did save three runs and, in a way, the game for the Phillies. 

With the bases full of Mets in the bottom of the first, Todd Frazier drilled a ball to the gap in right-center. Haseley leaped after a full-out sprint to snag the ball, which had an expected batting average of .360, per Statcast.

If that ball drops, the Mets take an early 3-1 lead with the potential to do more. 

To begin the fifth, Pete Alonso crushed a sinking liner to left field and Dickerson made a catch going to his knees.

Smyly did successfully pitch around back-to-back no-out errors at third base by Brad Miller in the fourth, but he also had his outfielders to thank for the solid outing.

4. Smyly minimizes damage

Out of necessity, the Phillies have overworked and overexposed pitchers like Mike Morin, Blake Parker, Jared Hughes and Nick Vincent in recent days. Because of this, the Phillies wanted to stay away from most of their relievers Saturday. Nick Pivetta, Austin Davis, Edgar Garcia and Cole Irvin were available.

Thus, a lengthier outing from Smyly was critical. He delivered, pitching seven scoreless innings. 

Over the Phillies' last 55 games, Smyly has two starts of seven scoreless innings and the rest of the rotation has zero. (Yes, that includes Aaron Nola.)

It's been an interesting ride so far for Smyly as a Phillie. He's made nine starts. Four were excellent, four were bad and one was OK. It's hard to know which Smyly you're getting on a given night, but that kind of volatility is acceptable from a No. 5 starter. The issue is that right now, the Phillies have three No. 5 starters.

Vince Velasquez (6-7, 4.80) opposes Noah Syndergaard (10-7, 3.97) in Sunday's series finale.

Syndergaard has a 2.80 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 10 starts since the All-Star break.

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At the Yard podcast: Predicting where Top 12 MLB free agents will sign

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At the Yard podcast: Predicting where Top 12 MLB free agents will sign

Ricky Bottalico and Corey Seidman predict where the top 12 MLB free agents will land in Monday's At the Yard podcast.

• Anthony Rendon

• Gerrit Cole

• Stephen Strasburg

• Zack Wheeler

• Madison Bumgarner

• Josh Donaldson

• Mike Moustakas

• Rick Porcello

• Cole Hamels

• Hyun-Jin Ryu

• Nick Castellanos

• Didi Gregorius

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Matt Klentak's 'Time to win' comment makes this a crucial offseason for Phillies and it begins this week

Matt Klentak's 'Time to win' comment makes this a crucial offseason for Phillies and it begins this week

Throw a log on the hot stove.

Major League Baseball general managers will assemble in Phoenix for their annual meetings on Monday. The event, which ends Thursday, serves as the de facto starting point of the offseason and this will be a busy one, locally and industry wide.

The free-agent market is led by three stars of the recently completed World Series — starting pitching studs Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg and hard-hitting third baseman Anthony Rendon. Strasburg and Rendon were part of the World Series champion Washington Nationals club and Cole starred for the American League champion Houston Astros. All three players are represented by super-agent Scott Boras, who a year ago used the general managers meetings as a pulpit to announce that “Harper’s Bazaar” had opened for business. Three and a half months later, Bryce Harper signed a mammoth, 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies.

Harper led the Phillies in OPS (.882), homers (35) and RBIs (114) in his first season with the club, but the Phils, who led the NL East at the end of May, faded in June and again in September to finish in fourth place in the National League East, 12 games behind the second-place (and wild card) Nationals and 16 behind the division-winning Atlanta Braves.

The Phillies have not had a winning season (they finished .500 in 2019) or made the playoffs since 2011 and impatience is raw from the fan base to the ownership level. Managing partner John Middleton ordered the ouster of manager Gabe Kapler, proven winner Joe Girardi is now at the helm and normally guarded general manager Matt Klentak is on record as saying, “No questions asked, it is time to win right now.” That statement makes this a crucial offseason for Klentak and the Phillies because this team must fill some serious holes if it is going to win right now.

The most glaring hole — or holes — reside in the starting rotation where the Phillies currently have just one dependable starting pitcher on their roster. After Aaron Nola, the Phils have reason to believe that a healthy Jake Arrieta (he had elbow surgery in September) and an inconsistent but promising Zach Eflin can contribute in 2020, but neither are a sure-thing and even if they make an impact, the Phils will need a lot more starting pitching than that, from the top of the rotation to the back end.

You can bet the Phils will be in on all the top arms on the free-agent market. Boras, who during Harper’s Bazaar built a chemistry with Middleton, will make sure of that. 

The Phillies will at least start the offseason in the sweepstakes for Cole and Strasburg and see where it takes them. Cole seems to have his eye on the West Coast and Strasburg could end up back in Washington, but the deep-pocketed Phils cannot be ruled out, especially this early in the offseason. The Phils will be in on other top starters such as Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler. Signing any one of these four would require the Phillies to forfeit their second pick in the 2020 draft. The Phils, with a new scouting director (Brian Barber) and a need to add talent to their prospect pipeline, are not keen on losing high-round selections, but their need for starting pitching is so acute and their thirst to win so desperate that it would not be surprising to see them sacrifice a pick for an impact arm.

Given the lack of depth in the rotation, the Phillies will cast their net in the lower end of the free-agent pool, as well. Cole Hamels has long spoken of a desire to finish his career in Philadelphia. Rick Porcello and others could also boost the back end of the rotation.

As nice as Rendon’s bat would look at third base — where there is a need — the Phils probably have to allot the bulk of their financial resources on starting pitching, not to mention locking up catcher J.T. Realmuto to a contract extension. The Phils have been linked to third baseman Mike Moustakas, yet another Boras guy, the last two winters and this might be the time to try to grab him on a one- or two-year deal. He won’t cost nearly as much as Rendon and shouldn’t cost as much as free-agent Josh Donaldson, who is also expected to cost a draft pick after being extended a qualifying offer.

With Andrew McCutchen set in left field and Harper in right field, the Phils could pursue a short-term fit like Brett Gardner in center field, but they also could look to re-sign corner man Corey Dickerson, a good lefty stick, and try to get enough out of a McCutchen-Adam Haseley combination in center field. 

As for Odubel Herrera, it’s too early to tell if he will ever suit up for the Phillies again. The guess here is that he will not, but the Phillies still have several months to make that call. Only the need for a roster spot (the team currently has five openings) or the arrival of spring training will create urgency to make a decision on Herrera, if it already has not privately been made.

It’s kind of fitting that the GM meetings are being held in the Phoenix area. That is Scott Kingery’s hometown and he sits in the middle of this Phillies offseason. Depending on how the team maneuvers its way through the winter, Kingery could open the 2020 season at third base, shortstop, second base or center field. He could play third if the team does not bring in someone from the outside, shortstop if Cesar Hernandez moves on and Jean Segura moves to second base, as has been discussed internally, or second base if the team wants to play him at his best position. He also improved greatly in center field last season and could fill that spot, depending how this offseason shakes out.

There are many possibilities for this team that says it's time to win now.

Throw a log on the fire. The hot stove is warming. Baseball’s offseason gets chugging this week.

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