Phillies

Phillies prepared to ride Aaron Nola like a horse down the stretch

Phillies prepared to ride Aaron Nola like a horse down the stretch

BOSTON – The Phillies are considering a plan to max-out Aaron Nola the rest of the way. Under the plan, Nola would pitch every fifth day the remainder of the season, regardless of whether the Phils have an off day between one of his starts.

“It’s something we've discussed over the course of the last 10 days,” manager Gabe Kapler said before Nola took the mound against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. “It's something that we're considering. I don't want to make any announcements. But, starting Aaron every fifth day would also put him in line to start the last game of the season -- or give us a chance to have us start him the last game of the season. It's a major consideration and one we'll talk about after we get through today's start.”

The plan can be adjusted along the way if need be. For now, Nola’s fifth day would be Sunday in Miami.

“I'm comfortable going as far to say that that's a likelihood,” Kapler said.

If Nola pitches every fifth day the rest of the way, he would make eight more starts. He would line up to pitch the season finale at home against the Marlins on Sept. 29. If the Phillies are in or out of the playoffs by then, they could adjust.

The Phillies have often chosen to give Nola an extra day between starts when the schedule allows. In his career, he is 27-8 with a 2.60 ERA when pitching on five days’ rest instead of the customary four. Entering Tuesday night, he was 23-20 with a 4.49 ERA in his career on four days’ rest.

Keeping Nola on his fifth day the remainder of the season is an acknowledgement that Nola is very good. It’s also an admission that there’s a huge drop-off in the rotation after him. That drop-off could ultimately be the Phillies’ undoing in the wild-card race. 

If the Phillies follow through and use Nola every fifth day, his remaining starts would be:

Sunday at Miami

August 30 vs. Mets

Sept. 4 at Cincinnati

Sept. 9 vs. Atlanta

Sept. 14 vs. Boston

Sept. 19 at Atlanta

Sept. 24 at Washington

Sept. 29 vs. Miami

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Bryce Harper's headband collection continues to grow with latest design for his son

Bryce Harper's headband collection continues to grow with latest design for his son

Since his time in Philadelphia began just shy of one year ago, Bryce Harper has embraced the city with open arms from the moment he arrived.

One thing that Harper is known for, outside of crushing dingers and having a monster arm in right field, is his vast headband collection that was seen throughout the season.

It’s something that he carried over from his time in Washington, but let’s be honest — the ones that he has worn here have been way cooler.

Who can forget the iconic Phanatic one, that had just about every fan running to the closest team store or taking to their phones to place an order for their own.


(Image credit: USA Today Images)

Harper truly took a liking to the Phanatic (who wouldn’t?) and even embraced the mascot via socks and cleats. Notice the details in the laces? They’re fuzzy. Seriously, who designed those? Give that person a raise.



(Credit for Images: USA Today Images)

And let’s just hope the whole Phanatic ordeal gets settled before the start of the season, so Harper can continue repping his biggest supporter.

Let’s get back to the main reason for this post — headbands.

There were many other ways he sported his new team last season, including a headband in army green, one to match the Phillies’ home uniforms and even one with stars.



(Credit for images: USA Today Images)

His latest one though, looks to be a custom design from JunkBrands.com. It’s personalized with Harper’s number but more importantly, his son’s name, Krew.


(Image credit: John Clark/Twitter)

We’re not sure how Harper is going to top last year’s lineup … but he’s off to a pretty great start.

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Realmuto feeling ‘blessed’ as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

2020 Phillies spring training pitching probables: Battle for 5th starter begins this weekend

2020 Phillies spring training pitching probables: Battle for 5th starter begins this weekend

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The battle for the Phillies' fifth starter's job will get off to a quick start.

Manager Joe Girardi on Tuesday announced his starting pitchers for the first three Grapefruit League games.

Nick Pivetta will start the exhibition opener against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday in Lakeland.

Presumed opening day starter Aaron Nola will get the ball Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Clearwater.

Vince Velasquez will get the nod Monday against the Baltimore Orioles in Clearwater.

Girardi was not ready to announce any other pitching plans.

On paper, the top four spots in the Phillies' rotation appear set with Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin. Pivetta and Velasquez will vie for the fifth spot with pitchers like Ranger Suarez, Cole Irvin and prospect Damon Jones also getting a look.

"I think it's important that all these guys that are competing for the last spots get a ton of looks and we can afford to do that," Girardi said. "We have a number of games, we have split-squad games. We'll look at people. I think it's important that we do that, that we're fair to everyone because it's fair to the team that way.

"As we go forward, each start gets a little bit more important, but I think it's not fair to evaluate start 1 and start 2. That's the buildup stage."

Girardi, his staff and the front office will use a couple of factors in picking a fifth starter. Obviously, there is performance in spring training. In addition, Girardi said, the team will consider who might profile best in the bullpen. Suarez opened eyes in the bullpen last year. Velasquez and Pivetta both spent time in the rotation and the bullpen last year. One of them appears to be ticketed for the rotation and the other for the bullpen.

"The bottom line is we're going to want our 13 best pitchers to go with us and we have to kind of put that puzzle together," Girardi said.

New pitching coach Bryan Price has mentioned that a starter transitioning to the bullpen can benefit from some adjustment time because relieving is "a learned craft." In a perfect world, the Phils will identify who starts and who goes to the bullpen before the Grapefruit League schedule ends so the adjustment period can commence.

"We would like to do that," Girardi said. "That doesn't mean it will happen. If they make our job really difficult, it might get drawn out longer. And you can make it difficult two different ways — they're all pitching good or they're all scuffling."

Girardi hopes they're all pitching good.

In Price's view, a starter transitioning to the bullpen should not view the move as a slight.

"There's an emotional hurdle of not starting that has to be cleared," he said. "Some guys look at it as a demotion when it can really be something that stimulates a career and greatly impact the ballclub."

No team gets through a season with five starters. So today's reliever might be tomorrow's starter. 

"Just because we pick a fifth starter at the end of March doesn't mean things couldn't change," Girardi said.

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