Phillies

Phillies call up hard-throwing reliever J.D. Hammer, place Pat Neshek on injured list

Phillies call up hard-throwing reliever J.D. Hammer, place Pat Neshek on injured list

MILWAUKEE — For the second time in two days, the Phillies have added a right-handed power arm to their bullpen.

After a sleepless night, a drive from Allentown to Philadelphia, a flight from Philadelphia to Chicago and another car ride from Chicago to Milwaukee, J.D. Hammer arrived in the clubhouse at Miller Field in time for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Brewers.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” the elated 24-year-old pitcher said. “I haven’t been able to sleep for the last 24 hours. It’s just a dream come true. It’s hard to put into words how I feel right now.”

Hammer was called up when the Phillies placed Pat Neshek on the injured list. The veteran right-hander felt pain in his right shoulder while playing catch on Friday and is back in Philadelphia for an exam. Hammer joins a bullpen that got a shot in the arm Friday night with the addition of Vince Velasquez to the group. Velasquez pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts and hit 97 mph on the gun in Friday night’s 6-4 win (see story).

Interestingly, the Phillies acquired Hammer in the trade that sent Neshek to the Colorado Rockies in July 2017. Neshek re-signed with the Phillies the following winter.

Hammer arrived in the Phillies organization with the reputation of throwing a big fastball. The Phils brought him to big-league camp for a look in the spring of 2018, but he never pitched because of an elbow strain. He ended up pitching in just 12 games last season, all in the low minors.

Over time, Hammer got healthy and he worked himself into better shape over the winter. He was not invited to big-league camp this spring but worked his way through minor-league camp and an assignment at Double A Reading to a promotion to Triple A just this week. Now, he's in the big leagues after just one appearance in Triple A.

“I think the injury last year was a blessing in disguise,” he said. “It taught me that I needed to take better care of my body and how to prepare and not just go out there and throw.”

Hammer pitched 20 1/3 innings at Double A and gave up 17 hits and four earned runs. He struck out 26 and walked four. In one game at Triple A, he pitched two perfect innings and struck out three.

The Phillies saw enough to give him a look. To make room for Hammer on the 40-man roster, the club transferred reliever David Robertson to the 60-day IL. That transaction is back-dated so Robertson can come off the IL on June 14. He is still down with an elbow strain.

Hammer’s best pitch is a fastball that tops at 96 mph. He throws an improved slider and changeup.

“I’ve been really honing my slider this year,” he said. “The pitching coaches did a really good job of working with me on that and getting it to where I need to be. I feel like it’s an effective pitch for me and I have that changeup in my back pocket.

“I think that a lot of the analytics and stuff that we went over this year helped a lot. I feel like we really dug deep into information on hitters, how to attack guys, and what their weaknesses are. I feel like we’ve gotten a lot of information from the coaching staff and the analytics people to give us an advantage.”

John Dale Hammer is a colorful lad with long locks of hair and big, black-framed eyeglasses much like Rick (Wild Thing) Vaughn of the movie Major League. His journey to the majors did not include any time in the California Penal League, but he did face the uphill climb that goes with being a senior sign out of Marshall University and a 24th-round draft pick in 2016. Hammer’s signing bonus was just $1,000.

No problem, he’s happy to be here. And no matter how tired he was from a long day of travel, he looked like a big leaguer when he walked through the clubhouse door in a nice blue suit. His wife and dad made the trip in from Colorado for Saturday’s game. His mom couldn’t make the trip because she was attending his sister’s college graduation.

“It’s been a ride,” Hammer said of the journey that he hopes is just beginning. “I’ve worked hard and I’ve had a lot of people support me along the way. Coaches, trainers, everyone — I’ve had a lot of support. I couldn’t do it without them.”

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Phillies Talk podcast: Massive early-season Phillies-Braves series on tap

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Phillies Talk podcast: Massive early-season Phillies-Braves series on tap

The Phillies will play 40% of their games against the Braves over the next four days, making this a massive early-season NL East series.

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss that and more on the latest Phillies Talk podcast.

• How do Phils and Braves match up in 2020?

• How often can the Phillies' bullpen do what it did in series finale vs. Yankees?

• They're lucky to have Hector Neris.

• Starting pitching has been good so far — particularly Zack Wheeler.

• Phillies quietly Top 6 in on-base percentage and slugging.

• Phillies bound for regression one way or the other.

• Yankees complaints.

• J.T. owes the fans a pizza.

• Will we hear the air horn every game now?

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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.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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