Phillies

Phillies 2, Cubs 1 (10 innings): Win over NL's best thanks to Asdrubal Cabrera's walk-off HR

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Phillies 2, Cubs 1 (10 innings): Win over NL's best thanks to Asdrubal Cabrera's walk-off HR

BOX SCORE

The Phillies pulled off an important win Friday night, beating the Chicago Cubs, 2-1, on the strength of Asdrubal Cabrera’s walk-off homer with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Pat Neshek inherited a runner in the top of the 10th and, with some defensive help from first baseman Carlos Santana, pitched out of trouble. He got the win.

The Phillies have won two games in a row for just the second time since Aug. 4-5.

Atlanta lost to the Pirates so the Phillies are two games back in the NL East.

The start
Phillies starter Nick Pivetta needed 105 pitches to navigate five innings. Despite the high pitch count and early exit, he got good results. He allowed just one run. It came in the fifth inning when Javier Baez clubbed a solo homer to left-center. Baez hit a first-pitch, hanging slider. Mistakes over the plate have hurt Pivetta in recent starts. He has allowed three home runs in his last two starts. Baez has 29 homers on the season.

The record
The Phillies finished August with a 13-14 record.

The Cubs finished August at 18-10. They have the best record in the NL at 79-55.

Hit king
Jose Quintana, the Cubs’ starting pitcher, entered the game with just two hits and 20 strikeouts in 42 at-bats this season. Of course, he singled against Pivetta in his first two at-bats. Quintana allowed just a run over six innings.

Quinn sparks again
Roman Quinn batted leadoff and helped tie the game at 1-1 in the sixth. He led off with a double and scored on a hit by Cesar Hernandez. Since Aug. 16, Quinn has played in 13 games and is 18 for 40 with six extra-base hits and 10 runs scored.

Relief work
Good job by lefty reliever Adam Morgan to keep the game tied at 1-1 in the seventh. He used his fastball-changeup combo very effectively to get the dangerous Baez to line into a 9-6 double play to end the inning. Morgan lured Baez into an off-balance swing on the changeup.

More good relief work
Seranthony Dominguez pitched over an error by third baseman Maikel Franco and got a strikeout with the bases loaded to end the top of the eighth and keep the game tied at 1-1.

And more
Hector Neris continued his resurgence with two strikeouts in a scoreless top of the ninth. Since returning from Triple A on Aug. 14, Neris has racked up 10 scoreless appearances and struck out 20 of 31 batters.

The lineup
Manager Gabe Kapler’s starting lineup included Quinn in the leadoff spot, Hernandez in the No. 3 hole and a left-side infield of Scott Kingery at shortstop and Cabrera at third base. Kapler likes the energy and productivity that Quinn had brought to the leadoff spot in recent games. He likes Hernandez’s on-base percentage in front of cleanup man Wilson Ramos.

As for the decision to play Cabrera over Franco …

“Franco is going to be playing a ton,” Kapler said. “Cabrera felt like the right matchup for Quintana, a good opportunity to get Kingery in there playing good defense, also against Quintana. It's everything in combination. It wasn't strictly defense.”

The schedule
The Cubs have the best record in the National League. If the Phils can survive this series, they will play 12 of their next 15 against the Marlins and Mets. The Phils are 8-5 against the Marlins, but just 5-8 against the Mets.

Up next
Zach Eflin (9-5, 3.99) and Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 3.86) are the pitchers on Saturday night.

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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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