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Nick Pivetta, bullpen weapon? The Phillies have discussed it

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Nick Pivetta, bullpen weapon? The Phillies have discussed it

Nick Pivetta struck out 14 batters in six innings at Triple A Lehigh Valley on Sunday.

The next day, Phillies officials kicked around the idea of using him in the big-league bullpen.

“We talked a lot about that yesterday,” manager Gabe Kapler said before the Phillies got back to work against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

Kapler stressed that nothing was imminent, that these types of discussions about personnel and roles happen all the time. 

But if the circumstances were ever right ...

“It’s something we’ll consider,” he said.

Pivetta, 26, opened the season in the big-league rotation as the No. 2 starter. He was sent to the minors after giving up 31 hits and 17 earned runs in 18⅓ innings over his first four starts.

Pivetta’s demotion has coincided with the Phillies sending a couple of key relievers, David Robertson and Victor Arano, to the injured list. Another key reliever, Tommy Hunter, has been on the injured list all season.

The organizational preference is to still see Pivetta develop into a consistent big-league starter. He’s got the weapons to do that. But he might also be a pretty good bullpen weapon, especially if the Phils' current rotation of Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez and Jerad Eickhoff holds up.

“I think a good one,” Kapler said when asked what kind of bullpen weapon Pivetta could be.

Kapler described any discussions about possibly using Pivetta out of the ‘pen somewhere down the road as a balancing act.

“We have to balance it with knowing that at any time he might be one of our five best starters,” Kapler said. “And we can envision him in a situation late in the season where he’s really important in our rotation, or sooner rather than later. So, I think there’s a balance.

“I guess my personal take on it, just being open with you, is I don’t think there’s a whole lot of risk to seeing him out of the bullpen. I don’t think it stunts his development as a starting pitcher to see him out of the bullpen. But I think there are a lot of stakeholders who need to be involved in this discussion.

Just one of Pivetta’s 63 games in the majors has come out of the bullpen.

It was impressive.

In July of last season, he got the win when he pitched the top of the 13th inning in a walk-off victory over Washington. Pivetta threw 19 pitches in the top of 13th and 11 of them registered at 97 mph or more on the radar gun. The right-hander held nothing back. He let it all go. Months later, that performance still resonates positively and tantalizingly in the minds of some Phillies higher-ups.

So could the Phillies use Nick Pivetta as a bullpen weapon sometime this season?

Maybe.

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Phillies fans who angered Aaron Boone clown Yankees manager for complaining to umps

Phillies fans who angered Aaron Boone clown Yankees manager for complaining to umps

Pandemic, shmandemic: Philadelphia sports fans are a different breed.

After the Phillies topped the red-hot Yankees on Thursday night, the prevailing storyline wasn't J.T. Realmuto's continued production, or Zach Eflin's strong outing. 

Everyone was talking about Yankees manager Aaron Boone whining about some Phillies fans making a little noise at the ballpark.

Boone stopped play on Thursday to complain about a group of Phillies fans, who call themselves 'The Phandemic Krew', for blowing airhorns when Yankees players were at the plate.

Yes, seriously:

Hmm. Not exactly that tough New York mindset, eh?

Boone complained after the game about the "timing element" of the fans' distractions, because apparently his highly-trained athletes aren't locked in enough to batter the Phillies' bullpen if a few guys from South Jersey make a little noise. 

Unsurprisingly, Phillies fans weren't going to let Boone's antics go unnoticed.

On Friday morning, two members of The Phandemic Krew jumped on 97.5 The Fanatic to talk with Marc Farzetta about getting under Boone's skin, and they went absolutely in on the Yanks' manager.

Here's Oscar, who hails from Camden County, putting it perfectly:

OSCAR: When I was doing it, we were kinda laughing about it, like we did it when Stanton was batting. And they had the TVs out there for us, they put the TVs out there for us, and I was like, 'Yo, I think Boone's complaining about us.' And someone was like, 'They just tweeted about us, complaining about us.' So right away we were like, 'Yo, Boone!' 

FARZETTA: Was it a point of pride when you realized you're a Philadelpha fan, who's not allowed to be in the stadium, and you were still having an impact and getting in the manager's head?

OSCAR: That's definitely a point of pride. I mean, you're talking about Boone, last year they were 'savages', and now they're crying about airhorns. It's definitely some pride, and listen, there's no stopping us. We're still going to be out here for the rest of the season.

That's perfect. Just perfect.

If you missed the reference: a viral hot-mic clip of Boone arguing with umps heard him using some very interesting language to describe his players last season.

Now he's mad about a few horns? You've gotta keep that same energy, Boone!

To top it all off, Phillies fan Taylor Valdez lobbed this idea to the Phandemic Krew, just a little icing on the cake:

Don't be surprised if those shirts start popping up in the Philadelphia area.

As the fans noted, members of the Phandemic Krew were socially distant, they wore masks, and they had hand sanitizer aplenty. They even put a mask on the Phillie Phanatic in their gigantic Phandemic Krew sign. They were taking the COVID-19 pandemic just as seriously as they take Phillies baseball.

The message is clear: don't mess with Philly fans.

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Hector Neris picks up biggest outs of young season in confidence-builder for Phillies bullpen

Hector Neris picks up biggest outs of young season in confidence-builder for Phillies bullpen

As Phillies manager Joe Girardi maneuvered his way through the middle and late innings with a beleaguered bullpen in a close game Thursday night, one thought weighed uncomfortably on his mind.

Girardi's counterpart, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, had decided this was the night to rest one of the most dangerous hitters on the planet. But just because Aaron Judge was out of the starting lineup didn't mean he and his lethal power bat wouldn't be a factor in the game.

Sure enough, with the Phillies desperately clinging to a one-run lead with two outs in the eighth inning and a man on third base, the hulking Judge grabbed his bat and strode toward the plate.

Girardi responded by replacing lefty reliever Jose Alvarez with right-handed closer Hector Neris.

Phillies fans beyond the centerfield gate and those watching on television held their breath.

Five pitches later, they could exhale as Neris got Judge to swing over a splitter for strike three. It was the biggest out of the young season — at least for an inning. Neris allowed a pair of two-out hits in the ninth before retiring Luke Voit on a ball to the warning track to complete a 5-4 victory over the Yankees.

The win gave the Phils a split of the four-game series with one of baseball's most powerful teams.

J.T. Realmuto and Phil Gosselin stood out with the bats and Zach Eflin pitched well in his season debut as the Phillies improved their record to 3-4. 

But the star of the game was an unlikely unit, a bullpen that had been scorched for 17 earned runs in 16⅔ innings in the early part of the season.

The 'pen was handed a 5-2 lead in the fifth inning and got 15 outs to preserve a one-run victory. Nick Pivetta allowed a two-run homer in the seventh for the bullpen's only blemish. But Pivetta did get six of the 15 outs.

Neris got four huge outs, including the strikeout of Judge, who leads the majors with seven homers and 17 RBIs in his first 12 games.

Yes, Girardi thought about having Neris walk Judge and go after Gio Urshela. But he didn't think about it for too long.

"You know, Aaron Judge, as great a hitter as he is, if you make your pitches you have a chance," Girardi said. "I thought Hector and J.T. had a great plan and they executed it."

Realmuto, the Phillies catcher, sensed that Judge would be looking for a first-pitch splitter because Neris is known for that pitch and threw it 66 percent of the time to lead off an at-bat last season. So Realmuto called for two straight fastballs then three straight splitters and it got the job done.

"That's a dangerous at-bat for any pitcher because if you make a mistake he can hit it out of the ballpark anywhere," Girardi said. "Hector was fantastic. 

"When you look at what our bullpen did tonight, they gave us five strong innings against arguably the best lineup in baseball. Just an outstanding job."

Girardi admitted that his heart may have skipped a beat when Voit launched his ball to center in the last at-bat of the game. Off the bat, it looked like it had a chance to be a three-run homer and more misery for the bullpen.

"You worry because you know how strong these guys are and how far they hit the ball," Girardi said. "But you feel a little bit better when you see your centerfielder nestle under it."

The bullpen needed a little confidence-builder after a rough start to the season. But there's not much time to savor the performance. The Braves arrive Friday night for a four-game series.

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