Phillies

Roman Quinn could be playing his way into bigger role with Phillies

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Roman Quinn could be playing his way into bigger role with Phillies

The ever-exciting Roman Quinn was in the Phillies' lineup Saturday, a night after delivering two huge ninth-inning insurance runs and leaving his feet to make an impressive catch on the warning track in left-center field.

Quinn batted ninth against the Marlins and got the nod in center field with Odubel Herrera given a night off.

You've probably never read anything about Quinn that didn't include the words, "if he stays healthy." So let's get that out of the way up front.

When healthy, Quinn is a dynamic player who can help any team and could start for many. The Phillies have a crowded outfield picture, so Gabe Kapler has to pick his spots with the speedy switch-hitter. 

This weekend, Quinn could get back-to-back starts. With the Phillies facing lefty Wei-Yin Chen on Sunday, Kapler said he could start Quinn Sunday and sit Nick Williams.

This last week has provided a glimpse into Quinn's all-around ability. There's so much to like about this 25-year-old. 

"He is an elite, elite athlete," Kapler said, adding that he never played with anyone with as much athleticism.

"I don't think there's a situation that feels too big to him. There's no doubt in any of our minds that he can play on a regular basis, but also in the role he's going to be in for us which is pinch-hit, pinch-run, play defense. Having all of our outfielders understand that and then have Quinn spot-start when it's appropriate. It's just the right role for him right now."

Honestly, the Phillies could use Quinn's energy atop the lineup right now. Though Cesar Hernandez still has a .368 OBP, it feels as though he hasn't done anything in two months. 

Hernandez has hit .154 over his last dozen games and .227/.336/.268 since July 1. He hasn't looked the same since taking a painful foul ball off the foot in Pittsburgh on July 6. He, too, could be a candidate to sit Sunday.

When you add in the up-and-down nature of Odubel Herrera's game — offensively and defensively — there are legitimate ways Quinn could help this club with regular playing time.

"Quinny deserves an opportunity to play. We're going to be leaning on Odubel heavily down the stretch and need him fresh and healthy. Also, we need Quinn to get a look," Kapler said.

"You just kind of naturally feel [his energy] when he goes on the field. It's kind of fun to watch, you're excited about what's going to happen next. I guess what we all root for most is that he puts the ball in play so we can see him run. 

"Billy Hamilton's probably the closest but I'm not sure there's anybody that's faster than Roman. I'm not sure Billy's even faster."

Quinn was caught stealing twice at Fenway Park earlier this week in his only two attempts. He got good jumps both times but was simply a victim of perfect pop times and perfect throws from Red Sox catchers Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart.

But you can be sure the Phillies will place no limitations on Quinn when he reaches first base. Kapler wants him to run and to run early in counts.

"He understands how fast he is and how gifted he is athletically," the manager said. "Every facet of his game, from what he does at the plate to what he does on defense, what he does on the bases, we all see that athleticism pop out at us.

"He knows that his body staying healthy is the key to him being a star player in the major leagues. ... He's so fast-twitched, he slides so hard, he runs so hard. He's kind of wound tight."

Quinn picked up his first stolen base of the season Saturday night against the Marlins and it was key. Not only did he swipe the bag easily, but his speed distracted Marlins reliever Jarlin Garcia and paved the way to a mistake pitch that Hernandez took deep.

"He steals second base in the sixth inning of a game. Garcia's on the mound and Garcia's paying very close attention to him and delivers a pitch he probably didn't want to deliver," Kapler said after the Phils' 8-3 win. "It was at least in part because he was so concerned with Quinny on the bases."

Speed kills.

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Eight years later, the one that got away comes back to haunt the Phillies

Eight years later, the one that got away comes back to haunt the Phillies

DENVER – If things had worked out differently eight years ago, lefty Kyle Freeland might have pitched six shutout innings for the Phillies instead of against them on Thursday night.

Freeland’s work on the mound and Ryan McMahon’s work at the plate (five RBIs on a pair of homers) backboned the Colorado Rockies’ 6-2 win over the Phillies at Coors Field (see observations).

Zach Eflin pitched well before an error by shortstop Scott Kingery, a base hit and a three-run homer turned the game in the Rockies’ favor in the sixth inning.

Save for a two-run homer by J.T. Realmuto in the seventh, the Phillies’ bats did little in one of the best places to hit in baseball. Four of the Phils’ five hits were singles and one of those was an infield hit.

The top four hitters in the Phillies’ lineup were 0 for 14.

After the game, manager Gabe Kapler tipped his cap to the Rockies’ starting pitcher.

“I think the story was Freeland,” Kapler said. “He was really good. He really commanded the inside part of the plate. He made it very difficult for us to get anything going. We weren’t able to score any runs. It’s tough to score two runs and win in this ballpark.”

Freeland was one of the game’s breakout pitchers last season. He went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA in 33 starts and finished fourth in National League Cy Young voting. He’d started against the Phillies once in 2017, but had to come out in the first inning with a groin injury. He entered this start 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA on the new season, but clearly did his homework on the Phillies. He gave up just two hits, walked none and struck out seven.

“I noticed when I started watching video two days ago that they have guys with big leg kicks and they’re trying to get the perfect timing with the pitcher,” he said. “It’s kind of easy to start messing with their timing.”

Freeland did that by varying the interval of the hesitation in his delivery.

“I can hold that for a whole inning,” he said of the pause on his leg kick.

Freeland, who turns 26 in May, actually has a significant connection to the Phillies. He was selected by the Phils in the 35th round of the 2011 draft as a high school senior out of the Denver area. Freeland opted not to sign. He attended the University of Evansville and in 2014 was drafted in the first round by the Rockies. He was picked eighth overall, one slot behind Aaron Nola, and received a $2.3 million signing bonus from the Rockies.

Had Freeland signed with the Phillies out of high school, he and Nola might now be teammates.

And the Phillies would have a lefty in their rotation.

“The Phillies picked me as a draft-and-follow so I continued to play summer ball that year then they offered at the end of the summer,” Freeland said. “We couldn’t get to the price point that I wanted. It was a tough decision for me. I wanted to go play pro ball. I also had a great offer on the table to go play for Evansville and I think it’s safe to say I made the right choice.”

Freeland would not say how far apart he and the Phillies were back in 2011. But he did mention how much the Phils had on the table.

“You’re 18 years old and you have someone throwing a quarter of a million dollars at you,” he said. “I really didn’t know anyone who had been through the process so it was hard for me to lean on anybody. So it was a decision I had to make on my own and I’ve never had any regrets.

“But at the time it was tough. One thing that was nice is going to college I had three years where I knew I was going to play where as going into pro ball as a 35th rounder, if you don’t pan out in the first season and a half you might get canned.

“I made the right decision.”

It's difficult to argue with that.

Nonetheless, the Phillies sure would like to have had Kyle Freeland on their side Thursday night. What might have been.

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Rockies 6, Phillies 2: Pair of homers doom Phillies in unfriendly Coors Field

Rockies 6, Phillies 2: Pair of homers doom Phillies in unfriendly Coors Field

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Coors Field continues to be an unfriendly place for the Phillies. They were thumped, 6-2, by the Colorado Rockies in the first game of a four-game series Thursday night.

Zach Eflin and Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland hooked up in a nice pitchers' duel through five innings. The Rockies then pull ahead on a pair of homers by Ryan McMahon in the sixth and seventh innings.

Colorado, which started the season slow, has won four in a row to go to 7-12.

The Phils saw their two-game winning streak come to an end. They are 11-7.

The Phils are 4-11 against the Rockies since the start of 2017. They have lost five in a row in Coors Field, dating to last September, and been outscored 45-9 in those games. 

The keys

• It was a scoreless pitchers' duel heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. The Rockies got the lead runner on base when shortstop Scott Kingery made a throwing error. Trevor Story then stroked a base hit up the middle. Eflin then gave up a three-run homer to McMahon on a 1-1 changeup as the Rockies broke the deadlock and took a 3-0 lead.

• Freeland was selected by the Phillies in the 35th round of the 2011 draft but chose to attend the University of Evansville. Three years later, he was a first-round pick of the Rockies, going eighth overall, one slot after of Aaron Nola. Freeland was brilliant in this one. He held the Phils to two hits – a single by Eflin and an infield hit by Cesar Hernandez — over six shutout innings. He walked none and struck out seven. He left the game because of a blister problem.

• Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto gunned down two runners trying to steal second. He also clubbed a two-run homer in the seventh to briefly make it a 3-2 game. The Phils left a runner in scoring position in that inning and McMahon clubbed a two-run homer, this one against Victor Arano, in the bottom of the inning to put the game out of reach.

Eflin’s night

It was good until the sixth inning when he elevated a changeup with two men on base. Eflin allowed just four hits over the first five innings. He walked three and struck out just two.

Eflin is 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA in four starts.

Out-hit

Coors Field is a hitter’s haven, but the Phils were out-hit, 11-5, in this one. Four of the hits were singles and one of those was an infield hit.

Bryce Harper went hitless with a walk in four trips to the plate. He has just two hits in his last 14 at-bats. He has, however, reached base in all 18 games.

Rhys Hoskins went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch. He was up 3-0 in the count then struck out against Scott Oberg with two men on base to end the top of the eighth inning. Hoskins is hitless in his last 12 at-bats.

Transaction

Odubel Herrera went on the injured list and Roman Quinn was activated. All the details and what it means here.

Quinn had a tough night with four strikeouts.

Up next 

Vince Velasquez looks to build on Sunday’s strong outing in Miami when he pitches against righty German Marquez on Friday night.

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