Phillies

Rhys Hoskins' untimely error costs Phillies vs. Pirates

Rhys Hoskins' untimely error costs Phillies vs. Pirates

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Rhys Hoskins’ struggles spilled over onto the field Tuesday night. The Phillies’ first baseman dropped a throw that would have completed a double play and ended the top of the ninth inning. The error allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to score the go-ahead run and claim a 5-4 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Hoskins entered the game hitting .164 since the All-Star break.

The Phillies entered the game just a game back in the NL wild-card race. They are 68-63 with 31 games to play.

While Hoskins’ error was costly, it was not the Phillies’ only self-inflicted wound in the late innings.

Hector Neris walked two batters with one out in the top of the ninth to put the eventual go-ahead run on base.

And the Phillies’ offense could not capitalize on leadoff doubles in the seventh and eighth innings. J.T. Realmuto died on third in the seventh and Cesar Hernandez never advanced from second in the eighth. Those were two big wasted chances in a tie game.

The amazing Realmuto

The Phillies catcher threw out another would-be base-stealer. That’s four in two games and 34 this season, by far the most in the majors.

Stay hot

Corey Dickerson, who had just nine hits in 42 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season, had a double and a single in his first two at-bats, both against lefty Steven Brault. Dickerson’s single in the third drove in his 12th run in the last six games.

Smyly’s night

For the second straight start, lefty Drew Smyly did a pretty good job limiting damage and keeping his club in the game. Yeah, he gave up a triple, a homer and a single to open the game, but he kept the damage to two runs and picked up some easy innings after that before giving up a two-run homer in the sixth. Smyly left trailing, 4-3. The Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on a pinch-hit homer by Logan Morrison.

Coming around at the plate?

Hoskins may have made some progress with his swing. He has appeared pull-happy lately. But after striking out in the first inning (he took three fastballs and struck out on five pitches), he scorched a single up the middle. Later, he flied out to right field twice. Hoskins is at his best when he’s waiting on pitches and using the whole field, so his at-bats were promising.

Fan favorite

A day after winning the game with a home run in the bottom of the 11th then taking a few verbal jabs at Phillies fans, Sean Rodriguez got the start at third base. He had a nice game, reaching base twice on a hit by pitch and a double. He also scored a run and made a nice play in the field.

Rodriguez was booed in pre-game introductions and before both at-bats (see story). A mixture of boos and cheers rained down on Rodriguez as he stood on second base after his double in the fourth inning. Rodriguez took it all in, shook his head and muttered something to himself.

Health check

Scott Kingery had some pre-game tests on his aching abdomen and did not start the game, but he was cleared to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out to strand a runner at second base.

Up next

The series concludes on Wednesday night. Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.93) pitches for the Phillies against Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (1-2, 7.24).

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Baseball America’s always interesting Top 100 Prospects list landed this week and the Phillies are represented with two players in the top half.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard ranks 27th on the list and third baseman Alec Bohm 28th. Both players are projected to open the coming season at Triple A and get to the majors at some point in 2020. Both have been invited to major-league spring training camp, which begins in less than three weeks in Clearwater. See the complete list of Phillies’ in-house non-roster invites here.

Howard, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2017. We profiled him here.

In its story on the Top 100 prospects, Baseball America offered this take on Howard: Triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and the ability to work the edges of the strike zone, Howard flashes front-end potential.

Bohm, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS at three levels, including Double A in 2019. We profiled him here.

Baseball America offered this take on Bohm: Even with questions about whether he’ll have to move to first base, Bohm has the feel to hit and plus power to hit in the middle of the Phillies’ order, and soon.

Shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list for the second year in a row. The Rays placed eight players on the list. Because of a loaded farm system, the Rays were unable to protect left-hander Cristopher Sanchez on their 40-man roster and the Phillies traded for him in November. Read about Sanchez here.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed seven players on the list and the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres had six each.

The Miami Marlins led National League East teams with five players in the Top 100, including former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who was traded for J.T. Realmuto a year ago. Sanchez ranks 16th on the list and is projected to arrive in the majors sometime in 2020.

The Atlanta Braves placed four players on the list and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets joined the Phillies with two players.

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