Phillies 6, Royals 1: Cole Irvin impresses in MLB debut

Phillies 6, Royals 1: Cole Irvin impresses in MLB debut


KANSAS CITY — Thirteen years to the day after another lefty with the same first name made his successful major-league debut for the Phillies, Cole Irvin did the same on Sunday afternoon.

Irvin pitched seven innings and gave up just one run to backbone a 6-1 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Cole Hamels made his big-league debut on May 12, 2006. He pitched five shutout innings in a victory at Cincinnati that day.

The Phillies ended a six-game road trip to St. Louis and Kansas City with four wins and two losses. They lost the first game in both cities then won the next two by combined scores of 16-1 and 13-1. That’s pretty good resilience.

The Phillies lead the NL East at 23-16.

The keys

• Irvin’s poise was noticeable and impressive for a guy making his big-league debut. Like Zach Eflin the night before (he threw 110 pitches in a 7-0 shutout), Irvin showed a tremendous economy of pitches. He threw just 76 through the six innings and 93 through seven.

• For the second game in a row, the Phillies did a good job turning walks into runs. They did it three times in a six-run fifth inning. (The Phils turned three walks into runs the night before.) J.T. Realmuto and Odubel Herrera both drove in a pair of runs in that inning and Jean Segura started it off with an RBI single.

Irvin's day

The 25-year-old lefty got the word he was coming to the majors late Friday night after it was learned that Vince Velasquez couldn’t answer the bell because of a sore right elbow. Irvin was 16-4 with a 2.50 ERA at Lehigh Valley over the last two seasons so he clearly earned his way to the opportunity.

Irvin is all pitcher. He’s not a thrower who looks to blow away guys. His fastball topped out at 91 mph. He mixed that with a slider and changeup over his seven innings of work. He scattered five hits, walked one and struck out five.

Where's the pop?

Despite having an extra bat in the lineup with the designated hitter, the Phillies did not hit a home run in the three-game series and have just three in the last eight games.

Ready for rehab 

Scott Kingery is fully recovered from a hamstring injury. He will begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Single A Lakewood on Monday night. The plan is for Kingery to play seven innings at shortstop. Kingery is also expected to get time at second base, third base and possibly in center field during the rehab stint.

Up next

The Phillies return home Monday night to open a four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers. Aaron Nola (3-0, 4.57) gets the ball in the opener. The Brewers had not yet announced a starter.

After Milwaukee, the Phils host Colorado for three.

The Phils are 14-7 at home.

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Phillies and Nationals postponed for second straight night

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Phillies and Nationals postponed for second straight night

Here we go again.

After a rain delay of about two hours, the Phillies and Nationals have been rained out for a second straight night. Tonight’s game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Sept. 24.

After nearly three hours of waiting on Monday, the series opener was postponed and scheduled to be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Wednesday (1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.), but Tuesday’s postponement will cause even more issues for both teams.

Different from Monday, there was steady rain falling throughout the night and, perhaps, with a day game on Wednesday, it got too late to give this one a go. The Phillies have announced that Zach Eflin will start game one and Jake Arrieta will start game two. It appears Patrick Corbin will try again for Washington, however the Nationals may be searching for a second starter after a freak accident during batting practice resulted in a broken nose for their ace, Max Scherzer, whose status is TBD. (see video)

While a doubleheader is difficult from a pitching standpoint, the Phillies will welcome two extra days for J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce to mend. Not in the posted lineup for either of the games that were postponed due to rain, Gabe Kapler did indicate that Realmuto would start one game on Wednesday and Bruce was available to pinch hit on Tuesday if needed.

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Phillies need a 5th and 6th starter this weekend; who could it be?

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Phillies need a 5th and 6th starter this weekend; who could it be?

Updated: 9:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consecutive rainouts Monday and Tuesday benefited the Phillies by giving J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce two additional days to recover from their injuries. Had the Phils played Tuesday night, both players would have been available to pinch-hit but would have likely needed pinch-runners. Realmuto will start one game of the Phillies’ day-night doubleheader Wednesday. 

Where it negatively affected the Phillies is in the starting rotation. The Phils don’t have a true No. 5 starter right now. Gabe Kapler said Monday that there is a belief within the organization that Vince Velasquez can fill that role, but it’s not a certainty that he’s returned to the rotation. If Velasquez is needed out of the bullpen Thursday or Friday, for example, he may not get the start Saturday. It’s TBD. 

And now, because the Phillies play twice on Wednesday, they’ll also need a starter for Sunday’s game. In effect, a team with no fifth starter needs a fifth and sixth starter this weekend. 

On Wednesday, it will be Zach Eflin in Game 1 and Jake Arrieta in Game 2. 

Nick Pivetta pitches Thursday. 

Aaron Nola pitches Friday. 

Then possibly Velasquez Saturday. 

On Sunday, the Phils will have to figure out something else because it would be short rest for both Arrieta and Eflin. 

Who are the options? Kapler said Tuesday that hot pitching prospect Adonis Medina, despite being on the 40-man roster, is not under consideration for a start this weekend. 

The organization likely does not feel he’s ready yet and doesn’t want to rush a young pitcher with promise just because it needs a spot starter this weekend. Plus, Medina is a trade chip, and you don’t want to do anything to ding his value by bringing him up before the time feels right. 

So there’s Velasquez, there’s Cole Irvin, there’s Enyel De Los Santos. Those are the three most realistic options. Irvin is still on the active roster and was ticketed for the ‘pen before Mother Nature intervened. 

De Los Santos made a six-inning start for Triple A Lehigh Valley on Sunday, so he’d be on turn this weekend. The Phillies don’t seem to love him as a starting pitcher, though. They haven’t turned to him when the need has arisen this season and when he has been promoted it has been as a reliever. More of a two-pitch pitcher, De Los Santos could ultimately find more success as a reliever. 

Drew Anderson, who started Tuesday for the IronPigs, is another swingman on the 40. There’s also Ranger Suarez. 

If the Phillies want to promote someone who’s not on the 40-man roster, 23-year-old Dominican right-hander Ramon Rosso is another option. He has pitched well in 11 starts this season, including a Triple A debut June 13 in which he struck out nine and did not allow an earned run over six innings.

The other options are using an opener or making a trade. It seems unlikely the Phillies will be able to complete a deal for an attractive starting pitcher by the weekend, but one name to keep in the back of your mind is Mike Leake. He’s a No. 4 starter who has alternated quick and efficient quality starts and clunkers throughout his career. He’s on a Mariners team committed to tearing things down and eager to trade high-priced veterans for seemingly whatever they can get, whether it’s salary relief or an interesting young player. Leake is owed $15 million next season and has a $5 million buyout in 2021, way too much for a pitcher his caliber. The Phillies are not going to want to commit $20 million to him just because he’s the most obtainable starting pitcher on the market this minute. But if the Mariners pick up a bulk of his remaining money a la Bruce, he could and should be considered as a rotation stabilizer, not as the missing piece. 

Fortunately for the Phillies, they face the lowly Marlins this weekend. If there is a team to lack starting pitching against, it is them. 

But again, it highlights the lack of quality options the Phillies have after their first four starting pitchers, who collectively have been just OK. The choice to not sign a veteran starter this offseason has predictably backfired. The team enters Wednesday 39-32, which is still an 89-win pace, but the more important point is that the Braves are surging and the Nationals have won 14 of 21 with a roster every bit as talented as the Phils’. 

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