MLB trade deadline: Two of Phillies' biggest rivals beef up in bullpen

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MLB trade deadline: Two of Phillies' biggest rivals beef up in bullpen

The Nationals, one of the Phillies' biggest rivals, made two moves on trade deadline day to beef up their bullpen.

Washington reportedly acquired right-handed reliever Daniel Hudson from the Blue Jays and left-handed reliever Roenis Elias from the Mariners. Neither player cost the Nats a top prospect.

Elias had been closing lately for the Mariners, saving 14 games and posting a 4.40 ERA in 44 appearances. He's been a swingman throughout his career, starting games and also appearing at the back-end of the bullpen.

Hudson, too, was converted from starter to reliever midway through his 10-year career and this season he's experienced his most success in that role. Hudson has an even 3.00 ERA in 48 innings with 48 strikeouts and just five home runs allowed.

The Nats also acquired right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland from Seattle.

The Nationals' bullpen was a total disaster the first two months of the season and still has the worst ERA in the majors. The two setup men they signed to be the bridge between their elite rotation and elite closer Sean Doolittle were hard-throwing righties Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough. 

Rosenthal, who cost the Nationals $7 million, allowed 16 runs and 15 walks in 6⅓ innings before being let go and latching on with the Tigers. 

Barraclough has a 6.66 ERA and was sent to the minors.

Every move the Nationals make is relevant to the Phillies because Washington (57-50) is just a half-game better than the Phillies (56-50). Based on their recent, prolonged surge and the talent level of their roster 1 through 25, the Nationals figure to be one of the two NL wild-card teams. If the Phillies play well enough to claim the other spot, they would likely be facing one of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg or Patrick Corbin in the one-game playoff. Won't be easy.

Braves get better

The Braves reportedly added one of the top available relievers, Tigers closer Shane Greene, along with Mark Melancon from the Giants.

Greene has been excellent this season with a 1.18 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 22 saves in 25 chances.

The Braves have lacked a true lockdown ninth-inning option and Greene is much closer to that than Luke Jackson.

Melancon has a 3.50 ERA this season and 183 career saves.

Roark to the A's

In a separate move, the Athletics reportedly acquired veteran rental starting pitcher Tanner Roark from the Reds. A Roark trade was always seen as likely and became imminent once Cincinnati acquired Trevor Bauer from the Indians late Tuesday night. The Phillies also had some interest in Roark but chose instead to acquire lefty Jason Vargas from the Mets. 

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Phillies notes on Scott Kingery, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, Jake Arrieta and catching prospect Rafael Marchan

Phillies notes on Scott Kingery, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, Jake Arrieta and catching prospect Rafael Marchan

A few notes after the Phillies' workout Wednesday night …

Scott Kingery was the designated hitter for the second night in a row in an intrasquad game. He produced a couple of hard-hit line drives. On Tuesday night, he swatted an opposite-field homer. In other words, he's swinging it pretty well.

Kingery is penciled in to get his first work at second base in Thursday night's intrasquad game. The final call will be made when he shows up to the ballpark and manager Joe Girardi and the athletic training staff gauge how he feels.

Kingery battled coronavirus in June and reported to camp late so team officials want to be sure he's ready for the season opener a week from Friday. So far, he's looked pretty good.

A better read on Kingery's readiness should come by Tuesday. The Phils play exhibition games at Washington, at home against Baltimore and at the Yankees on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, respectively. Kingery should get work in a couple of those games.

• Girardi said Aaron Nola would start at Washington on Saturday night.

Zach Eflin, who had been bothered by back spasms, threw a bullpen on Wednesday and felt good. He will pitch a simulated game on Saturday. If healthy, Eflin is expected to open the season in the rotation.  

• Minor league catching prospect Rafael Marchan and lefty reliever Austin Davis will join the club on Thursday, Girardi said. Both were out with a "medical illness," Girardi said.

Marchan caught Girardi's eye with his defensive soundness in Clearwater in February and March.

• Here are the pitchers for Thursday night's intrasquad game:

Team 1

Jake Arrieta (4 innings)
Enyel De Los Santos (3)
Victor Arano (1)
Reggie McClain (1)

Team 2

Nick Pivetta (4)
Spencer Howard (3)
Damon Jones (2)

Pivetta is battling Vince Velasquez for the fifth starter's job. Velasquez has looked good in two outings.

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No questions masked, high-risk Didi Gregorius will wear one

No questions masked, high-risk Didi Gregorius will wear one

Major League Baseball is not requiring players to wear masks on the field. In the clubhouse, in the weight room, on the team bus, on airplanes … yes, players are being asked to mask up in those places.

But wearing one on the field is up to each individual player. Some have tried them and said it's difficult to breathe through the mouth-and-nose covering. Others have simply said they don't intend to wear one while playing.

Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius is different. He does not intend to play without one.

No ifs, ands or buts.

He's wearing one.

And he has been since the Phillies resumed workouts at Citizens Bank Park earlier this month.

"I am definitely wearing it in games because I think it adds safety for everybody, for me and people around me," Gregorius said before an intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday. "So I think wearing it will be normal for me. I'm playing in it right now so I can get accustomed to it."

With the help of Phillies athletic trainers, Gregorius found a mask that he really likes. It's comfortable and it filters air.

Gregorius, 30, must take precautions to protect his health. In 2011, as a minor-leaguer in the Cincinnati organization, he was diagnosed with a kidney disorder. The issue is treatable but Gregorius takes no chances.

"I still have it and it will be there for life," Gregorius said. "I had a really good conversation with the doctors here and they said I was one of the high-risk players and everything. They ask me every day what they can do to make it better for me, so there has been really good communication. We are trying to go through the guidelines and trying to do everything we can do to stay safe. So that's why people see me walking around with a mask on and stuff. I am keeping myself safe, wearing a mask everywhere I go. So I've got to keep it on me all the time."

The majority of Phillies players are not wearing masks during on-field workouts. Coaches and staff are wearing them on the field.

Gregorius was asked if he'd feel more comfortable if more players wore a mask like him.

"I mean, I can't force a person to wear their mask," he said. "But it's for everybody's safety. I'd prefer for everybody to wear it. You've got to get the right one, too, while you're playing so you can breathe normal, because if you are wearing a mask and you can't breathe it's going to be hard."

Gregorius signed a one-year, $14 million contract with the Phillies in December. The shutdown gave him unexpected time to recover from the elbow surgery he had after the 2018 season. He spent his time during the shutdown training for baseball and learning more about a new hobby: tattooing.

"I've started tattooing other people, family and friends," said the artistic shortstop, who is already known for his drawing talent.

Gregorius will go back on the free-agent market this winter. He would help himself (and the Phillies) by tattooing baseballs in the 60-game season that begins next week.

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