The super-sub portion of Scott Kingery's career is coming into focus

The super-sub portion of Scott Kingery's career is coming into focus

DENVER — Scott Kingery made his third straight start at shortstop for the Phillies on Friday night. He has been filling in for Jean Segura, who has been nursing a minor hamstring injury.

“My inclination, though I’m not swearing by it, is to start Scott again [Saturday night] at shortstop,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’re potentially targeting Sunday as a day to get Jean back in the lineup.”

Once Segura is ready, he will get most of the reps at shortstop. The Phillies didn’t trade for him so he could split time.

So what happens with Kingery, who has swung the bat very well in limited time this season?

Kapler indicated that Kingery would fill the super-utility role that the organization envisioned when it signed him to a six-year, $24 million contract in the spring of 2018.

“I think there’s more of a need to get him in the lineup because of how well he’s performing,” Kapler said. “It’s less of a ‘let’s get him reps to keep him fresh thing,’ and more of a, ‘this helps us win thing.’

“His reps could come at shortstop here and there. They could come in the outfield here and there. He certainly has emerged as an option at second and third base.”

Kingery played some outfield at the University of Arizona and he’s played some in spring training. He played briefly in all three outfield spots for the Phils last season and picked up a few innings in left field earlier this season.

Kapler has talked a lot in recent days about using Kingery in center field at times. With Odubel Herrera on the disabled list with a sore hamstring for at least another nine days, it would not be surprising to see Kingery get a start at the position sometime next week. Roman Quinn seemingly will get most of the playing time in center while Herrera is out, but Kapler has indicated that Quinn will not get all the time there.

During batting practice on Thursday, Kapler reminded Kingery to keep up on his pre-game work in center field. That would seem to support the idea that Kingery will get a look there soon.

Clearly the Phillies want to see Kingery play center field because they believe his versatility is valuable and it presents a way to get his bat in the lineup while giving other players rest. (It also doesn’t hurt to have both him and Quinn putting some heat on Herrera.) But it’s also possible that the Phils want to gauge Kingery’s ability to play center field because they will have to make a roster move when Herrera is ready to return. One possibility is trading Aaron Altherr. If he goes, the Phillies would lose some center field depth.

Kingery made significant strides defensively at shortstop last season. Kapler believes he has the same potential for growth in center field.

“I think I can comfortably say that he will go out in center field and immediately play average to above average center field simply because of his athleticism and speed,” Kapler said.

Kingery entered Friday night hitting .414 (12 for 29) with four doubles, two homers and a 1.227 OPS. As a rookie last year, Kingery hit just .226 with a .605 OPS. He has credited his improvement to gaining experience, taking some of the lift out of his swing — in his words, “flattening” it — and being more aggressive early in the count.

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Phillies and Nationals postponed for second straight night

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Phillies and Nationals postponed for second straight night

Here we go again.

After a rain delay of about two hours, the Phillies and Nationals have been rained out for a second straight night. Tonight’s game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Sept. 24.

After nearly three hours of waiting on Monday, the series opener was postponed and scheduled to be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Wednesday (1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.), but Tuesday’s postponement will cause even more issues for both teams.

Different from Monday, there was steady rain falling throughout the night and, perhaps, with a day game on Wednesday, it got too late to give this one a go. The Phillies have announced that Zach Eflin will start game one and Jake Arrieta will start game two. It appears Patrick Corbin will try again for Washington, however the Nationals may be searching for a second starter after a freak accident during batting practice resulted in a broken nose for their ace, Max Scherzer, whose status is TBD. (see video)

While a doubleheader is difficult from a pitching standpoint, the Phillies will welcome two extra days for J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce to mend. Not in the posted lineup for either of the games that were postponed due to rain, Gabe Kapler did indicate that Realmuto would start one game on Wednesday and Bruce was available to pinch hit on Tuesday if needed.

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Phillies need a 5th and 6th starter this weekend; who could it be?

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Phillies need a 5th and 6th starter this weekend; who could it be?

Updated: 9:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consecutive rainouts Monday and Tuesday benefited the Phillies by giving J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce two additional days to recover from their injuries. Had the Phils played Tuesday night, both players would have been available to pinch-hit but would have likely needed pinch-runners. Realmuto will start one game of the Phillies’ day-night doubleheader Wednesday. 

Where it negatively affected the Phillies is in the starting rotation. The Phils don’t have a true No. 5 starter right now. Gabe Kapler said Monday that there is a belief within the organization that Vince Velasquez can fill that role, but it’s not a certainty that he’s returned to the rotation. If Velasquez is needed out of the bullpen Thursday or Friday, for example, he may not get the start Saturday. It’s TBD. 

And now, because the Phillies play twice on Wednesday, they’ll also need a starter for Sunday’s game. In effect, a team with no fifth starter needs a fifth and sixth starter this weekend. 

On Wednesday, it will be Zach Eflin in Game 1 and Jake Arrieta in Game 2. 

Nick Pivetta pitches Thursday. 

Aaron Nola pitches Friday. 

Then possibly Velasquez Saturday. 

On Sunday, the Phils will have to figure out something else because it would be short rest for both Arrieta and Eflin. 

Who are the options? Kapler said Tuesday that hot pitching prospect Adonis Medina, despite being on the 40-man roster, is not under consideration for a start this weekend. 

The organization likely does not feel he’s ready yet and doesn’t want to rush a young pitcher with promise just because it needs a spot starter this weekend. Plus, Medina is a trade chip, and you don’t want to do anything to ding his value by bringing him up before the time feels right. 

So there’s Velasquez, there’s Cole Irvin, there’s Enyel De Los Santos. Those are the three most realistic options. Irvin is still on the active roster and was ticketed for the ‘pen before Mother Nature intervened. 

De Los Santos made a six-inning start for Triple A Lehigh Valley on Sunday, so he’d be on turn this weekend. The Phillies don’t seem to love him as a starting pitcher, though. They haven’t turned to him when the need has arisen this season and when he has been promoted it has been as a reliever. More of a two-pitch pitcher, De Los Santos could ultimately find more success as a reliever. 

Drew Anderson, who started Tuesday for the IronPigs, is another swingman on the 40. There’s also Ranger Suarez. 

If the Phillies want to promote someone who’s not on the 40-man roster, 23-year-old Dominican right-hander Ramon Rosso is another option. He has pitched well in 11 starts this season, including a Triple A debut June 13 in which he struck out nine and did not allow an earned run over six innings.

The other options are using an opener or making a trade. It seems unlikely the Phillies will be able to complete a deal for an attractive starting pitcher by the weekend, but one name to keep in the back of your mind is Mike Leake. He’s a No. 4 starter who has alternated quick and efficient quality starts and clunkers throughout his career. He’s on a Mariners team committed to tearing things down and eager to trade high-priced veterans for seemingly whatever they can get, whether it’s salary relief or an interesting young player. Leake is owed $15 million next season and has a $5 million buyout in 2021, way too much for a pitcher his caliber. The Phillies are not going to want to commit $20 million to him just because he’s the most obtainable starting pitcher on the market this minute. But if the Mariners pick up a bulk of his remaining money a la Bruce, he could and should be considered as a rotation stabilizer, not as the missing piece. 

Fortunately for the Phillies, they face the lowly Marlins this weekend. If there is a team to lack starting pitching against, it is them. 

But again, it highlights the lack of quality options the Phillies have after their first four starting pitchers, who collectively have been just OK. The choice to not sign a veteran starter this offseason has predictably backfired. The team enters Wednesday 39-32, which is still an 89-win pace, but the more important point is that the Braves are surging and the Nationals have won 14 of 21 with a roster every bit as talented as the Phils’. 

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