Phillies

Jake Arrieta not sharp and failed again by Phillies' defense

Jake Arrieta not sharp and failed again by Phillies' defense

Make it three rough starts in a row for Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta lacked his best stuff and was tuned up by the Brewers Friday night in Milwaukee. It would be an understatement to say the Phillies' defense didn't help.

Arrieta allowed eight runs in 3⅓ innings, but only four were earned. The Phillies committed three errors behind him (and another later) but it was even worse than that.

Two of the errors were charged to Scott Kingery at shortstop. The first was on a throw that could have completed a double play. It didn't impact the score.

Kingery's second error was costly. 

With the bases loaded and nobody out in the second inning and the Brewers up 1-0, Lorenzo Cain struck a ball on one hop to Kingery at short. In his haste to begin a double play, Kingery failed to glove the ball and it skipped into center field, plating two runs.

It was a play a starting shortstop has to make, and it affected the rest of the inning. Instead of a man on third, two outs and Milwaukee up 2-0, it escalated into a five-run inning.

Arrieta took the full brunt of the blame, refusing to criticize his defense after this one.

"It was sh---y all the way around," Arrieta told reporters. "And that's a good example of why the starting pitcher is charged with the win or the loss. In a situation like that, I singlehandedly lost us the game. Not the way I drew it up. Any time you start a game where a position player has to pitch, it's frustrating.

"I put up a five-spot in the second inning and it wasn't because of the defense really. And if there's a defensive play that's not made, it's our job to get the next guy out and pick him up."

The Phillies are giving Kingery this everyday opportunity to seize the job at shortstop, moving J.P. Crawford over to third base since his return from the DL. Kingery barely played shortstop in the minors. 

Rhys Hoskins also failed to glove a ball on the run in left field to begin the fourth, resulting in the pitcher reaching second base and scoring a batter later.

Mixed in was a wild pitch from Arrieta, a liner Cesar Hernandez didn't catch, and a sacrifice fly that Nick Williams dropped on the exchange.

Arrieta was not sharp tonight but this just continues the theme of him being negatively affected by the Phillies' defense. With the second-highest groundball rate in MLB, Arrieta needs his defense to be sound.

The four unearned runs tonight make it 11 on the season for Arrieta, which is tied with Garrett Richards for the most in the majors. No other pitcher has allowed more than eight unearned runs.

It was two weeks ago in San Francisco when Arrieta criticized the Phillies' defensive shifts and called Kingery out by name when explaining a play that needed to be made.

Those harsh comments led to several conversations between Arrieta, manager Gabe Kapler, Kingery and other teammates, and Kapler was glad it happened. The hope from all parties was that it would lead to Arrieta having more say in the defensive strategy behind him.

But, in short, the Phillies' defense this season has cost them. They've committed 54 errors, the most in the National League. You go position by position and on most nights, the only two above-average defensive players (in relation to their major-league peers) are the centerfielder and rightfielder.

Arrieta left with the Phillies trailing 8-0 and well on their way to another blowout loss to the Brewers. 

Jesmuel Valentin ended up pitching the ninth — the third time already Kapler has had to use a position player to pitch in mop-up duty — and the Phillies lost 13-2. Cesar Hernandez was 3 for 3 with an RBI double, and Odubel Herrera homered in the ninth down a dozen runs.

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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?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Monday night’s rainout benefited the Phillies in that it gave J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce one additional day to recover from their injuries. If the Phils do indeed play Tuesday night (the game began in a delay with more rain in the forecast), both players would be available to pinch-hit but would likely need pinch-runners. 

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. If Velasquez is needed out of the bullpen Wednesday or Thursday, for example, he may not get the start Friday. 

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

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 Friday. 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. 

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 entered Tuesday 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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Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer injured during pregame batting practice

Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer injured during pregame batting practice

Ouch.

Before today’s game, Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer sustained an injury while taking part in the team’s bunting drills, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas.

As you can see in the video above, Scherzer attempts to bunt the ball and the ball deflects off his bat and hits him right in the face.

No update has been made on his condition or his status as a starting pitcher in one of tomorrow’s games, Scherzer was seen wearing a splint.

You never like to see something like this, we’ll keep an eye out for more information pertaining to Scherzer’s status to face the Phillies tomorrow.

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