The latest Phillies Talk podcast has landed, just in time for the Phillies’ trip back to Pinellas County, Florida, where they will play the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game series beginning Friday night.
Vince Velasquez will start the series opener against a pitcher the Phillies know well, former New York Mets lefty Steven Matz.
Velasquez has made four starts since taking over Matt Moore’s spot in the rotation. The last two have been solid as he’s allowed just two runs over 11 1/3 innings.
Nonetheless, it seems like Velasquez is being evaluated on a start-to-start basis, that his place in the rotation, even in the short-term, is far from solid. We discuss.
It also seems like Hector Neris is on a short leash as closer, though manager Joe Girardi, known for being tight-lipped and supportive, would never admit that. We discuss.
Odubel Herrera has picked it up after a slow start. He’s hitting .357 with a 1.080 OPS in his last eight games. He’s talked about using his legs more in his swing, but mostly it looks to us like he’s stopped pressing at the plate. He looks confident and Bryce Harper’s recent words of acceptance — “He’s one of us, he’s a Phillie” — can’t hurt.
If Herrera can continue to hang on to the centerfield position, the Phillies can use whatever trade chips they might have in other areas, like the back end of the rotation or bullpen. We discuss.
We also chat about Scott Kingery, and how he needs some meaningful at-bats — in Triple A — if he’s going to make the mechanical swing adjustments he needs to succeed. Sitting is doing him no good.
And it wouldn’t be a Phillies Talk podcast without going off on a tangent or two. We use the occasion of the Phillies playing in Dunedin, which is just a few miles away from their spring training home in Clearwater, to talk about a great, long-distance hoagie experience. There’s also some memories of Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels pitching in Dunedin.
Give it a listen. It’ll be the best thing you do all day.