Phillies give up 8 home runs as need to add pitching becomes magnified

Phillies give up 8 home runs as need to add pitching becomes magnified


If the Phillies are going to survive the long, hot summer in the National League East, they’re going to need more consistent starting pitching.

Sure, it was nice to see Nick Pivetta toss that complete game on Saturday and Aaron Nola bounce back from a poor start last week in San Diego with a strong outing on Sunday.

But Jerad Eickhoff got rocked in a 13-8 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night and Jake Arrieta gets the ball on Tuesday night.

Over his last two starts, Arrieta has been tagged for 17 hits and 10 runs in just 9⅔ innings. He has walked six and given up five homers. These are not exactly comforting numbers when you consider that Arrieta must go up against the same lineup that pounded eight home runs against the Phillies on Monday night.

“We have to pitch a better baseball game than we did today,” manager Gabe Kapler said after his team’s seventh loss in the last 11 games, a defeat that dropped the Phils into a first-place tie with Atlanta after leading the division by themselves since April 26.

The Diamondbacks opened the game with three straight homers against Eickhoff. Boom. Boom. Boom.

“Obviously not the way you want to start the game,” Kapler said. “We were able to kind of storm back and even the score, but you'd certainly like to start the game on a better note than that."

The Phils did tie the game at 3-3, but Eickhoff gave up a pair of home runs in the fourth (both were preceded by walks) and Arizona never looked back. The Diamondbacks’ eight homers, along with five hit by the Phillies, made for a major-league record 13 home runs in a single game. The previous record was 12. That was set by the White Sox and Tigers in games in 1995 and 2002.

Now, the air was a toasty 76 degrees at first pitch and the ball generally carries better in warm weather at Citizens Bank Park. Baseballs these days are rock hard and travel like Titleists. Home runs are up throughout the game. But long balls are also fueled by mistakes over the plate and Eickhoff made some. He pitched into the fourth and gave up just five hits. All were homers.

Eickhoff has given up 16 home runs and 27 runs over his last six starts and his ERA has swelled over 5.00.

Is his place in the rotation in jeopardy?

Kapler was noncommittal when asked if Eickhoff would make his next start.

"I think these are things we need to talk about after the game and we’re probably not there yet,” Kapler said.

Eickhoff was confident he’d get another shot.

“Yeah, I expect to make the next start and I’m going to show up tomorrow and work,” he said. “That’s what I’ve always done and nothing really changes. I’ve just got to execute a little better and move on.

“This was just kind of one of those nights where every mistake I made, they were able to put a pretty good swing on it. The most frustrating thing is just not keeping us in the game. Letting every single one of these guys in the clubhouse down. That’s what’s the most frustrating.”

Even if the Phillies felt they needed to make a change in the rotation, they don’t have much in the pipeline. Cole Irvin is in Triple A. So is Enyel De Los Santos. How much of an upgrade would they provide? It has long been clear that the Phillies would need to improve their starting pitching for a second-half run by making a significant trade. Games like Monday night’s only magnify the need. The Phils just hope Arrieta’s start Tuesday night doesn’t further magnify it.

The eight homers given up by the Phils on Monday night increased their season total to 108, most in the NL. They are on pace to allow 265 homers, which would crush the team record of 221 set in 2017.

"It's definitely a problem,” Kapler said of the long balls. “It's definitely something we have to get out in front of and figure out how to solve. That's a lot of work on the part of the staff. That's our responsibility to get out in front of that."

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Gabe Kapler and Giants make historic coaching hire with Alyssa Nakken

Gabe Kapler and Giants make historic coaching hire with Alyssa Nakken

With all of the chaos currently consuming the league, it may have been overlooked that the Giants and Gabe Kapler have made a historic coaching hire.

Alyssa Nakken has been named one of Kapler's assistant coaches. She will be the first woman on a major-league coaching staff.

Can anyone say girl power?

Nakken is also a chairperson for the Giants' Employee Resource Group. This group promotes diversity and equality within the organization.

And as a female, with her intelligence and determination and hunger and drive to excel — I understand some of her responsibility is keeping her fingers on the pulse of the culture — it’s invaluable. She’ll broaden the scope and perspective, and I applaud Gabe for doing this.

-Kathy Strahan, Nakken's former coach in an interview for the San Francisco Chronicle

This is a moment that could change the mold of the league in the new decade.

Women belong in sports and are here to stay. And this single hire has the potential to open numerous doors in the future for both the league and anyone who wants to be a part of it.

You can read more about the hire and get to know Nakken at the San Francisco Chronicle.

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After 29 other teams pass, Phillies send Odubel Herrera to minor leagues

After 29 other teams pass, Phillies send Odubel Herrera to minor leagues

As expected, Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera quickly cleared waivers on Thursday. He has been assigned outright to Triple A.

Herrera was designated for assignment on Tuesday. The move immediately removed him from the Phillies’ 40-man roster and cleared a spot for outfielder Nick Martini, who was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati.

Herrera, 28, was involved in a domestic abuse incident in New Jersey in May. Though legal charges were eventually dropped, he served an 85-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic violence. As a matter of procedure, he was reinstated to the 40-man roster in November, but that hardly assured his future with the club, even though he is signed through 2021 and owed $20 million.

When Major League Baseball and the Players Association forged its joint policy on domestic violence, both sides agreed that a player violating the policy could not be punished by being released or having his contract voided.

On Tuesday, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said there were “sound baseball reasons,” for removing Herrera from the roster. He pointed to Herrera’s inconsistency and struggles last season and the fact that the Phillies had added outfielders Jay Bruce and Adam Haseley to the roster after Herrera’s suspension.

“The construction of our outfield now is very different than it was last spring when Odubel was first suspended,” Klentak said.

The Phillies plan to give Haseley a shot to win the starting centerfield job in spring training. He will be pushed by Roman Quinn.

Herrera could very well be on his way out of the organization, but he’s not there yet. He is expected to report to minor-league spring training camp, where he will continue to collect his full salary while working toward regaining a role with the big-league team or trying to catch the eye of a team that might be interested in trading for him. So far, there has been no trade interest. 

Participating in minor-league camp does not ensure that Herrera will be with a Phillies’ minor-league club during the regular season. He can still be released at any time, as long as the Phillies establish that the move is for baseball reasons, as they did earlier this week when they designated him for assignment.

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