Phillies

Phillies' 40-year drought of homegrown pitchers is appalling

Phillies' 40-year drought of homegrown pitchers is appalling

Andy MacPhail’s mantra during his four seasons as Phillies president has been “grow the arms, buy the bats.” You can’t argue the team has made the effort to purchase and trade for position players, to varying degrees of success. General manager Matt Klentak added big names at four starting spots over the winter, spending big money (and prospects) in the process.

The “growing the arms” part of MacPhail’s statement has proven problematic. The farm system doesn’t exactly have a plethora of major league-ready pitchers waiting in the wings. Surely, if they had, with the season the big-league club has had on the mound, we would have seen them by now.

Upon further review, this is an organizational problem that goes back, seemingly from the franchise’s inception 136 years ago. Looking at the 2008 World Series-winning roster, the team had four homegrown pitchers on the staff: starters Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Kyle Kendrick, and Ryan Madson out of the bullpen.

The 1993 pennant-winning Phillies had exactly zero homegrown pitchers that made significant contributions. None.

With the help of Baseball-Reference.com, we examined the last 40 years of Phillies baseball — which featured two World Series wins, five pennants and nine playoff appearances. The results are staggering.

Top 10 Phillies homegrown pitchers over the past 40 seasons by career WAR:

1. Cole Hamels - 42.4
2. Aaron Nola - 19.2
3. Kevin Gross - 13.5 
4. Randy Wolf - 11.9
5. Brett Myers - 9.8
6. Ryan Madson - 8.9
7. Don Carman - 8.0
8. Kyle Kendrick - 5.9
9. Hector Neris - 5.5
10. Ricky Bottalico - 5.2

When you consider that this factors in 40 years of drafts, 40 years of scouting, both stateside and internationally, it’s even more appalling. In the MLB amateur draft alone, I estimate the franchise has drafted more than 1,000 pitchers over that span. Think about that. Even by blind luck, a team should be able to do better than the Phillies have. 

Looking at this list, from 40 years of scouting, it’s a wonder the franchise has had the success it experienced during that time.

This is an indictment of the entire organization, its talent evaluation process and its developmental programs. This talent drought has gone on too long. It’s long past time for the Phillies to evaluate the way they evaluate.

Start growing some doggone arms.

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Braves second baseman attempts hilarious illegal play on Jean Segura

Braves second baseman attempts hilarious illegal play on Jean Segura

The Phillies got a badly needed win on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Braves to keep the tiny thread holding their playoff hopes alive together.

Zach Eflin was great and a couple of long balls were just enough to keep Phillies fans happy for at least another day.

But perhaps the funniest moment of the game came when Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies tried something unique to get Jean Segura out at second base: he removed his hand from the bag.

You can't do that!

His effort was for naught anyway because the ump had already called time. I appreciate the effort though.

Segura took it in stride and had some fun right back.

via [Cut4]

Phillies still need a miracle, but 2 wins over Braves, with Aaron Nola up next, is a good place to start

Phillies still need a miracle, but 2 wins over Braves, with Aaron Nola up next, is a good place to start

ATLANTA — The Phillies departed on this 11-game road trip needing to win just about all of them to have a shot at making the postseason. There are still two more cities to visit and miles upon miles to go on this trip, but …

Do you believe in miracles?

“I don’t think there’s anything we can’t do in this clubhouse,” Zach Eflin said after backboning a 4-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

The Phils have opened the road trip with two straight wins against the soon-to-be NL East champs and they will look for a sweep behind Aaron Nola on Thursday. A sweep is almost a must if the Phillies want to stay in the NL wild-card chase. There are 12 games remaining and they are three back.

The Phillies have used the long ball in beating the Braves on back-to-back nights. They have hit four homers in the two games and three of them have been two-run shots. Bryce Harper keyed the offense Wednesday night with a two-run bomb in the fourth inning. Cesar Hernandez also homered and the Phils scored their third run on a bases-loaded walk.

The Phils had just four hits in the game and they struck out 12 times. They also committed three errors in the field. All of this made it imperative that they get a good performance from their pitchers and they did.

Eflin was brilliant for seven innings and the bullpen tandem of Jose Alvarez and Hector Neris got the final six outs in speedy fashion.

After the game, manager Gabe Kapler gushed about Eflin.

“That was the toughest, from a mental standpoint, start from a pitcher that we've gotten all season long,” he said. “Quite simply, we didn't make plays behind him early on. He continued to get ground ball after ground ball. Calls were not going his way. And that was true when he was at that plate, as well. He just kind of had a resiliency about him throughout this game. He wasn't going to get beat mentally. He just continued to induce ground balls and got weak contact throughout the game. That was why we won that game.

“I think that there were a lot of people who were inspired — myself and the coaching staff and many of the players in the dugout — by the start that Zach just made. “

Eflin had struggled mightily in three previous starts against the Braves this season, including one last week. In just 9 1/3 innings, he was tagged for 17 hits and 20 runs (eight were unearned). He walked nine and struck out nine.

The 25-year-old righty rebounded impressively in this one. Relying heavily on his favorite pitch, a sinking, two-seam fastball, he held the Braves to five hits and one unearned run. He walked two and struck out four. He threw 99 pitches and 57 were sinkers. He got 12 outs on the ground, including a big double play against Brian McCann to end the sixth inning.

“The part that makes it especially mentally tough is the fact that he just faced the Braves,” Kapler said. “It's an incredibly tough lineup to go through several times, but even more so that he's coming off a start against them. 

“We've talked about this time of year being when we're going to fight and scratch and claw. That was fight. That was tough from Zach Eflin.”

Over his last five starts, Eflin has allowed just five earned runs in 28 2/3 innings for a 1.57 ERA.  

After some mid-season struggles, he has found himself again. It has all coincided with his re-dedication to throwing his favorite pitch, the sinker.

“At the end of the day, I’m going out and attacking guys and if it’s my sinker that day that’s working I’m going to use my sinker, if it’s my change-up I’m going to use my change-up,” he said. “We figure out what we have going early in the bullpen before the game. Today was the sinker. It’s been working these last couple outings so if it’s there next outing you’ll probably see it again.”

The Phillies still have stops in Cleveland (three games) and Washington (five) on this trip.

They face the longest of odds in making the postseason, but they’re not dead.

“We come in every single day mentally and physically ready to play and win,” Eflin said. “We have the guys in the clubhouse to do it and get there and make a postseason run, so to be able to do that and play good baseball at the same time is really good for us. We’re looking forward to riding this momentum the next couple of days and into the next series that we have coming and really doing everything we can to make it.”

On paper, you have to like the Phillies' chances with their ace, Nola, on the mound in Thursday’s series finale. However, the Phils are 0-5 in his last five starts.

Can he turn things around and keep the Phillies’ momentum going?

“I think it's really important that we focus on just one game,” Kapler said. “More specifically, just one pitch. The first pitch of the game for Aaron Nola, the first pitch of the game for our leadoff batter tomorrow is what we're focused on.”



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