Phillies

Phillies have been beating good teams despite a couple concerning signs

Phillies have been beating good teams despite a couple concerning signs

The Phillies are back home for three games against the Cardinals following a 4-3 road trip and their first off day since May 9. 

The forecast for today/tonight isn’t great — rain from 2 p.m. until around midnight — but with this being St. Louis’ only trip to Philadelphia, all efforts will be made for the game to be played.

When: 7:05 p.m. 

Where: NBC Sports Philadelphia; streaming live on NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app

Productive month

The Phillies are 15–9 in May and have gone 5-1-1 in their seven series. On May 13, they began a string of 20 straight games against National League contenders and they’ve gone 8-6 during it. 

The interesting thing about their play this month is that the Phillies really have not done a ton of hitting, situational or otherwise, yet continue to beat good teams. Over their last 20 games, the Phillies have the third-worst batting average with runners in scoring position in the majors at .220. 

They haven’t exactly made up for it with huge power either, hitting 20 home runs, sixth-fewest in MLB. 

And yet they’ve gone 12-8. 

Pivetta’s return

After posting a 3.41 ERA in six Triple A starts with 50 strikeouts in 37 innings, Nick Pivetta is back in the Phillies’ rotation. As long as he keeps them in games, he will stick there. 

One of the goals the Phillies sent Pivetta to the minors with was developing a better and more focused plan of attack early in games. Less nibbling and fewer hangers over the heart of the plate. He did pitch well for the most part at Triple A but those are adjustments you can only buy in to once they occur at the major-league level. Jamming Paul Goldschmidt is different than jamming Tim Tebow. 

This game will not make or break Pivetta, but a strong five or six innings against an experienced Cardinals lineup would be big for his confidence and the team’s confidence in him. 

Need more from Harper

One of the byproducts of Bryce Harper’s career-worst swinging strike rate and league-high number of punchouts on fastballs is that he just isn’t hitting many singles. There haven’t been many RBI knocks from him with a man on second, or first-to-thirds created when someone reaches ahead of him. 

Harper enters the Cards series hitting .227, and of his 44 hits, 21 have been singles. He has nine home runs and 14 doubles. 

Would you rather a player collect more extra-base hits than singles? Sure. But what about when the power isn’t there? In many ways, Harper so far has resembled Ryan Howard — power, low batting average, strikeouts, groundouts to the right side. The only difference has been the higher walk rate. 

It is true that Harper also started slowly last season, entering the All-Star break with a .214 batting average. But even then, his OBP was 10 points higher than it is now. And through this many games last year, Harper had 17 home runs, nearly twice as many as he has now. 

The Phillies’ winning has done a decent job of masking the concerning signs from their most expensive player. Over his last 180 plate appearances, Harper has hit .201 with five home runs, 24 walks and 58 strikeouts. 

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.

More on the Phillies

Former Phillie Ben Lively shares his quarantine experience in South Korea

Former Phillie Ben Lively shares his quarantine experience in South Korea

This wasn't how Ben Lively envisioned his first full year in South Korea.

The former Phillie is now living in Daegu, where the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea began and quickly spread. After 14 days by himself looking at the same four walls, Lively is finally able to practice again today. 

"I'm just ready to get out of my apartment. It's been 14 days straight," Lively told NBC10's John Clark. "So far it's been ... now I know what to do when I'm bored by myself in an apartment for two weeks.

"We had spring training in Okinawa, Japan, then we actually got sent back to America for like a week and a half. We came back and the next day they followed the Korean law saying that all foreign travelers have to be quarantined 14 days just to go outside. 

"If you got caught outside, there was a chance you could be deported. Wouldn't be good."

Tuesday was Lively's last day under quarantine. He was given a COVID-19 test the second day he was back in South Korea (March 26) and was re-tested this week. He says all of his teammates foreign to Korea tested negative.

Lively's Korean teammates have not been tested, per his knowledge. "I think the only time they test a person that has been here is when they have symptoms," he said.

South Korea has seemingly done a better job of containing coronavirus than any country in the world. As of April 8, the country has seen 10,384 reported cases and 200 total deaths. The number of new cases per day has ranged between 47 and 152 since March 12, according to Worldometer.

Opening day for the Korea Baseball Organization was supposed to be March 28, two days after MLB's opening day. Instead, the KBO is just opening practices back up to its foreign players and hopes to open its season by early May.

"The facilities we have at our field, there's going to be no pedestrians or fans, and they clean it every day," Lively said. "You don't necessarily have to wear a mask there, it's just going to be our team, small group of people. When you're going around though you've definitely got to wear a mask."

On Tuesday, an ESPN report outlined an ambitious potential plan by MLB to play regular-season games in empty stadiums in Arizona by late-May or early-June. The commissioner's office released a statement later in the day saying that numerous options are under consideration.

In South Korea, teams still plan to travel as of now.

"We don't have anything like that here. We're gonna travel, go city to city," Lively said. "It's definitely slowing down here, there's barely any new cases here now. They have it on pretty good lockdown over here. We still have no idea what the plan is after the games, whether we go back to the hotel or keep traveling back and forth."

Lively is eager to compete and carve out his role. He spent three seasons in the majors, pitching 112⅓ of his 120 innings with the Phillies. He made 15 starts for the 2017 Phils and went 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA.

The Phillies acquired him on New Year's Eve 2015 from the Reds for Marlon Byrd. In Lively's first year in the Phillies' system, he went 18-5 with a 2.69 ERA, splitting time between Double A and Triple A. He was let go by the Phillies late in the 2018 season and went to the Royals and Diamondbacks before his release in Arizona last August.

In Korea, Lively is teammates with former Phillie David Buchanan, who pitched here in 2014 and 2015. Buchanan lives a building over from Lively.

"Buchanan had a plan for his wife and kid to come over here the first week we started," Lively said. "I can see how tough it is on him. ... I tell everyone it still feels like a movie, can't really grasp what's going on still."

The rest of the baseball world is watching Korea to see how the KBO fares in its attempt to bring baseball back by May.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

aaa

More on the Phillies

Phillies' Andrew McCutchen's relatable facemask story is amazing, and helpful

Phillies' Andrew McCutchen's relatable facemask story is amazing, and helpful

We say it often, but right now pro athletes really are just like us: learning how to deal with social distancing strategies and facemask recommendations.

Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen is working on getting healthy in case the Major League Baseball season begins this spring, but he also needs to hit the store now and then for everyday supplies. 

After Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf advised all Pennsylvania residents to wear facemasks in public to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, McCutchen threw together a "bootleg" facemask to protect himself and those around him, but he was feeling a little... embarrassed by how DIY the mask was.

That is, until he saw what everyone else was wearing:

Between the acting, the wardrobe changes, and the sound effects, that's some Oscar-worthy work from McCutchen. 

(Will he start challenging Matisse Thybulle for the title of Content King?)

Outside of giving us a laugh, McCutchen also makes a good point and sends an important message: We're all dealing with this different world as one team.

While you might think putting on a facemask looks funny, or is a little uncomfortable, you're certainly not alone - even baseball stars are dealing with it - so let's tackle this, together.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

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.

More on the Phillies