Phillies

Source: Phillies will pursue Japanese free-agent pitcher Yusei Kikuchi

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USA Today Images

Source: Phillies will pursue Japanese free-agent pitcher Yusei Kikuchi

CARLSBAD, Calif. — The Phillies would like to improve their starting pitching this winter. And if they can do that by adding a left-hander, all the better. The Phils have used a lefty starter just three times in the last two seasons and that’s not ideal when you face Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves 19 times in the NL East.

Arizona’s Robbie Ray and Seattle’s James Paxton are two lefties that the Phillies have interest in trading for (see story). The Phils also have interest in free agents J.A. Happ, Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin, all lefties.

Another lefty is expected to hit the free-agent market very soon. His name is Yusei Kikuchi. He is 27 years old. He pitches for the Seibu Lions of the Japanese League and that club is expected to go through the posting process and make him available to major-league clubs this month.

The Phillies have seen Kikuchi and will pursue him once he becomes available, according to a baseball source. Kikuchi is represented by Scott Boras and the Phillies will be spending plenty of time communicating with him this offseason as they pursue his star client, free agent Bryce Harper. Boras also represents Phillies players Nick Williams, Jake Arrieta, Vince Velasquez and Rhys Hoskins.

General manager Matt Klentak would not speak about specific offseason targets at the GM meetings on Tuesday. But he did confirm that he’d like to add a lefty starter this offseason.

“In a perfect world, we would like to have a more balanced rotation,” Klentak said.  “We’re not going to swap out a good righty for a less-good lefty. We’re not going to do that to have a lefty. But if we can make the rotation better and also add balance to our pitching staff, I think that’s something worth exploring.”

Scouts who have seen Kikuchi rate him as a No. 3 or 4 starter on a major league staff.

Kikuchi went 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 23 starts for Seibu in 2018. He struck out 153 batters in 163 2/3 inings. He went 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA in 26 starts in 2017.

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Rockies 4, Phillies 3: Stunning loss on 2-out, 2-strike walk-off homer in 12th inning

Rockies 4, Phillies 3: Stunning loss on 2-out, 2-strike walk-off homer in 12th inning

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Charlie Blackmon's two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th against Juan Nicasio gave the Colorado Rockies a 4-3 win over the Phillies on Friday night.

The home run came with two outs on a 1-2 count.

Bryce Harper’s fifth hit of the game, a double to the gap in left-center with two outs in the top of the 12th inning, scored Phil Gosselin from first base and gave the Phils the lead.

The Phils had 17 hits, but only three for extra bases. The Phils were 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position and left 19 men on on base.

Those missed chances killed the Phillies.

Colorado has won two in a row against the Phils. The Phillies are 4-12 against the Rockies since the start of 2017.

The Phillies are 11-8.

The Rockies are 8-12.

In a troubling subplot, the Phillies lost two more players to injury. Andrew McCutchen exited with left knee inflammation in the sixth inning. Earlier Scott Kingery exited with a hamstring injury suffered while legging out a ground ball in the fourth inning. The team called it a “strain,” which would seem to signal a trip to the injured list for Kingery.

The keys

• Colorado right-hander German Marquez pitched a one-hit shutout with no walks and nine strikeouts against the Giants in his previous outing. The Phillies tripled that hits total in the first inning as they broke out to a 1-0 lead. They worked Marquez for 26 pitches in the inning and were into the Rockies’ bullpen in the sixth inning.

• Vince Velasquez pitched well for the Phillies. He carried a shutout and a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. But Velasquez had trouble putting away hitters in that frame. Trevor Story hit a 459-foot homer to left on an 0-2 fastball (96 mph) to make it a one-run game. Ian Desmond doubled on a 2-2 pitch with two outs and Garrett Hampson followed with a broken-bat double to left on a full-count fastball (97 mph) to tie the game.

• Catcher J.T. Realmuto cut down Blackmon trying to steal second with one out in the seventh. It was a big play in a tight game. Realmuto has caught three would-be base stealers in two nights.

Velasquez's night

The enigmatic right-hander continued to make strides with his third straight solid start. He gave up just the two runs in 5 2/3 innings and struck out eight. The only walk he surrendered was intentional. Over three starts, Velasquez has pitched 16 2/3 innings and given up just five runs. He seems to be pitching with more poise than in the past.

Velasquez had a big fastball and he used it often. Sixty-four of his 97 pitches were fastballs and he got 15 swinging strikes on the pitch, which topped out at 98 mph.

Health check

The Phillies have been beset by a series of injuries in recent days. Reliever David Robertson was placed on the injured list with an elbow strain. Odubel Herrera went on the IL with a hamstring strain. Jean Segura is not on the IL, but he has missed three straight games with a sore hamstring.

Injuries continued to mount as Kingery left this game in the fourth inning and McCutchen in the sixth.

Kingery started at shortstop. He was replaced by Gosselin.

Up next

Aaron Nola looks to break an early season slump when he faces the Rockies and right-hander Antonio Senzatela on Saturday night.

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Phillies' Scott Kingery exits game with hamstring injury

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Phillies' Scott Kingery exits game with hamstring injury

DENVER — Scott Kingery left Friday night’s game against Colorado with a right hamstring injury.

Kingery grabbed his hamstring while running out a ground ball in the fourth inning.

He was in the midst of his third straight start at shortstop, filling in for Jean Segura who, coincidentally, was out of the lineup with a hamstring injury.

Odubel Herrera is also out with a hamstring injury.

Phil Gosselin, the former Malvern Prep and University of Virginia star, made his Phillies’ debut and took over at shortstop for the Phillies after Kingery exited. Gosselin is a West Chester native.

Segura is not on the injured list. He was tentatively scheduled to return on Sunday. He could be pressed into duty on Saturday night.

Kingery left the field with athletic trainer Scott Sheridan by his side.

Kingery had been swinging a hot bat and was looking at getting more playing time (see story).

More later.

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