Phillies

Phillies brush off terrible loss, hold big lead this time against Marlins

Phillies brush off terrible loss, hold big lead this time against Marlins

BOX SCORE 

MIAMI — The Phillies rebounded from a horrendous loss the night before and beat the troublesome Miami Marlins, 9-3, on Saturday night.

Zach Eflin delivered a strong start and Scott Kingery and Corey Dickerson keyed the offense.

The Phillies blew a 7-0 lead in losing the series opener by a score of 19-11 on Friday night.

The Phillies entered Saturday 2 ½ games back in the NL wild-card chase. The win left the Phillies at 67-61. They are 7-8 against the Marlins this season.

The change in approach

Eflin had a terrible month of July and ended up being demoted to the bullpen. He returned to the rotation last week with a renewed commitment to throwing his sinker, or two-seam fastball, the pitch that got him to the majors. His use of the pitch had dropped because team officials had urged him to throw his four-seam fastball up in the zone to counteract hitters looking to launch.

Eflin threw 37 percent sinkers in his last start. That percentage jumped to 47 percent (37 of 79 pitches) in this outing. Eflin got 10 outs on the ground on his way to six innings of two-run ball.

The right-hander struck out just two, but he made it clear after his last start that he would prioritize outs over strikeouts and early contact over swings and misses. He did not walk a batter in his six innings of work.

Big hits

Dickerson had a pair of doubles and five RBIs. In four games on the trip, he has five hits, including four for extra bases, and nine RBIs.

Kingery keyed the Phillies’ six-run fourth inning with a three-run homer.

Miami’s ugly inning

The Phillies had an ugly inning Friday night.

The Marlins had one in this game.

Starter Jordan Yamamoto and reliever Tyler Kinley combined to allow five hits, four walks and six runs in the top of the fourth inning.

The ineffective duo combined to throw an absurd 62 pitches in the frame, the most in any half-inning in the majors this season.

The Marlins walked 10 batters in the game. On Friday night, they walked 10 batters and gave up 11 hits. That was another reason the Phillies’ 19-11 loss was so galling on Friday night. The Marlins tried to give the Phillies the game and the Phils could not take it.

A problem

With Bryce Harper out on paternity leave, the Phillies have had to move Adam Haseley from center field to right field and Kingery from third base to center field. That has compromised the defense at third base in this series. Between them, Brad Miller and Maikel Franco accounted for four misplays at third base in Friday night’s game. Miller failed to make a play on one and Franco had a tough time on three balls, including one that was ruled an error and ultimately led to four unearned runs in the fifth inning.

In the bottom of the first inning Saturday night, Miller failed to make a play on a ball that was ruled an infield hit but could easily have been scored an error. That eventually became a run charged to Eflin.

Harper is expected to return to action Monday night at home.

Look in the mirror

The Phillies sent pitcher Nick Pivetta to the minors. Manager Gabe Kapler said the right-hander needed to be more accountable (see story).

Up next

The Phillies will look to win the series behind ace Aaron Nola (12-3, 3.51) on Sunday afternoon. Nola has faced the Marlins twice this season and given up just two earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. He has a 3.23 ERA in 12 career starts against the Marlins.

Four games into this five-game trip, the Phillies are 3-1. As bad as Friday night’s loss was, this still could end up being a good trip if the Phils take care of business Sunday.

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Winter meetings complete, what’s next for Phillies?

Winter meetings complete, what’s next for Phillies?

SAN DIEGO — A year ago, Phillies officials left the winter meetings with much of their offseason work still in front of them.
 
Manny Machado was still a front-burner free-agent item. Bryce Harper was still in the background and J.T. Realmuto was headed to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York … anywhere but Philadelphia.
 
You know the rest of the story.
 
Spring training had already begun by the time the Phillies settled their offseason last year. A year later, Phillies officials departed the winter meetings on Thursday with their heavy offseason lifting complete.

The Phils signed free-agent pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract last week and free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius to a one-year, $14 million deal at the meetings this week. The signings left the Phils about $5 million under the $208 million luxury-tax threshold for the coming season and the club will be mindful of that. It’s likely — though not certain — that any further moves the Phillies make will qualify as tweaks.
 
Here are a few things to keep an eye on over the remainder of the offseason.

The starting rotation

Aaron Nola and Wheeler give the Phillies a “1 and a 1-A,” as manager Joe Girardi said.

Jake Arrieta is healthy and will be ready to go Day 1 of camp and Zach Eflin will hold down a job. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez are slated to battle for the fifth job, though it would not be surprising to see the Phils bring back Drew Smyly on a minor-league deal to join the fight. The Phils were keeping an eye on Rick Porcello to see where his market was headed, but he signed for one year and $10 million with the Mets. Lefty Wade Miley could be someone to keep an eye on, depending where his market goes. The Phils are committed to having top prospect Spencer Howard start the season in Triple A, but he could have a major impact as the season goes on. The Phils will watch Howard’s workload — because of injury, he pitched under 100 innings last year — so adding bargain depth is a must.

The bullpen

At the moment, it looks like a fairly unchanged unit. The Phils are banking on Adam Morgan and Seranthony Dominguez being healthy again and Hector Neris, Jose Alvarez and Ranger Suarez carrying a heavy load again. Pivetta, Velasquez or both could be used in the ‘pen, depending on the depth that is added in the rotation. If the Phils want to push the tax, they could make a play for former Yankee Dellin Betances. Someone from the system like Garrett Cleavinger or Connor Brogdon could surprise in spring training. How about Tommy Hunter? The Phils put a lot of time into his rehab after elbow surgery last year. Could he be a fit on a bargain deal? Ditto for Jared Hughes and Mike Morin.

The bench

Former All-Star and .300 hitter Josh Harrison has been signed on a minor-league deal. He can play anywhere and figures to have a good chance to make the club. Phil Gosselin, another jack of all trades, is coming back on a minor-league deal and the team has shown some interest in free agent Matt Szczur. Brad Miller remains a free agent and a potentially good fit. Jay Bruce will add power off the bench. Andrew Knapp returns as backup catcher but it would not be surprising to see the Phils sign one or two more veteran catchers to push for work and add depth. Remember, Girardi has said he’d like to keep Realmuto to between 120 and 130 games so he is fresh in October. “That’s where the prize is,” Girardi said. Austin Romine would have been a nice fit, but he signed with Detroit. 

Trades

While it appears as if most of the team’s major moves are done, general manager Matt Klentak and his group will continue to stay engaged on the trade front and you never know if one could materialize. Nick Williams could be dealt. Miami has long liked him. Velasquez could be dealt for some salary relief, particularly if the Phils are able to add starting pitching depth. The Phils would surely listen on Jean Segura, but he has three years and $45 million left on his deal so that would not be easy.
 
Could the Phils make a major trade?
 
After seeing the Realmuto deal come together so quickly last February, it can’t be ruled out. Even something crazy is possible. By crazy we mean Kris Bryant. Yes, he’d be a nice fit as the Phils make a quick push at a title before he becomes a free agent. But it’s a real long shot and it would probably cost top prospect Alec Bohm, and it would definitely push the Phillies over the luxury tax threshold, though managing partner John Middleton has said he would go over it for the right championship-caliber opportunity. Maybe that’s Bryant. There will continue to be buzz about him and the Phillies will continue to be connected to him as long as there is.
 
J.A. Happ could be another guy to watch on the trade front. The Phils made him an offer last winter and he signed with the Yankees. The Yanks are now eager to move his $17 million salary and might attach a good prospect to the package to help make the deal. Happ would put the Phillies over the tax, but, given the Phils’ need for more pitching, it might it be worth rolling the dice on the left-hander having a bounce-back year if and only if the Yanks attach a good prospect or two to the deal. 

What about Herrera?

The end of the winter meetings begins to put spring training in focus and the Phillies have a big decision to make before then: Do they bring Odubel Herrera to camp? Do they release him? The Phils would eat most of his salary to trade him, but there has been no interest.
 
We dealt with the Herrera situation more deeply in this story.

Realmuto's extension

Sometime before spring training, the Phils are expected to pursue a contract extension with Realmuto.

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At the Yard podcast: Ken Rosenthal joins to talk Phillies, Kris Bryant, Anthoy Rendon

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At the Yard podcast: Ken Rosenthal joins to talk Phillies, Kris Bryant, Anthoy Rendon

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman are joined by special guest Ken Rosenthal to talk Phillies and wrap up the Winter Meetings on the At the Yard podcast.

• Ken and Jim on the crazy week it was in San Diego

• Could we soon see a $500 million contract?

• Fallout of Rendon choosing the Angels

• Ken Rosenthal's thoughts on Phillies' offseason so far

• Phils have added more than Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius

• What's next for Phils with Winter Meetings in the rearview?

Subscribe and rate At The Yard:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19