Phillies

Takeaways after Rhys Hoskins' ejection, Jason Vargas' struggles and another loss by Phillies to Mets

Takeaways after Rhys Hoskins' ejection, Jason Vargas' struggles and another loss by Phillies to Mets

BOX SCORE 

The Phillies continue to play wasteful baseball. They wasted a strong start from Aaron Nola in losing to the New York Mets on Friday night. On Saturday, they came back and squandered several good scoring chances in suffering a 6-3 loss to the Mets.

The Phils (69-64) wasted one more thing Saturday: A chance to pick up a game on the Chicago Cubs for the last spot in the NL wild card race. The Cubs lost to Milwaukee but still lead the Phillies by 3 ½ games. The Phils have 28 games left.

Phillies hitters went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. Phillies hitters struck out 12 times, including three times with a runner in scoring position.

The Mets were backed by a large and vocal contingent of their fans in the crowd of 40,690. They stood and cheered loudly as Seth Lugo got J.T. Realmuto to ground out to end the game.

Too many base runners

Phillies starter Jason Vargas stranded four base runners in the first two innings as he did a good job limiting early damage. But Vargas allowed 13 base runners in four-plus innings of work and that was not going to work very long. He faced four batters in the fifth inning and all reached base on a single, a walk and back-to-back doubles. Vargas left trailing, 5-1. He gave up nine hits, including three doubles, three walks and hit a batter. Vargas, acquired from the Mets in July, has allowed 19 earned runs in 33 innings pitched (5.18 ERA) with the Phillies.

Not enough

The Phillies did not take advantage of a big chance to take control of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bryce Harper led off the frame with a solo homer, his 29th, to cut the Mets’ lead to 5-2. The Phils then proceeded to load the bases on an error and two singles against Steven Matz.

Bases loaded. No outs. One run in.

The Mets brought in lefty Luis Avilan to turn Cesar Hernandez around to the right side. Hernandez lined out to third base with Todd Frazier making a leaping grab on a ball that came off the bat at 89 mph. Pinch-hitter Andrew Knapp then worked a walk to bring home a run and make it a two-run game for Adam Haseley. The thing the Phillies could not afford most was a double play and that’s just what Haseley bounced into to end the inning.

Missed chance

Down two runs in the bottom of the seventh, the Phils got a leadoff double from Jean Segura. He did not move off of second as relievers Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson carved through Realmuto, Harper and Logan Morrison.

Good work

The Phillies’ bullpen, hammered for 10 runs the night before, did a good job keeping the game close, Blake Parker, Ranger Suarez and Jared Hughes, in particular.

Something to keep an eye on

Corey Dickerson, who had 24 RBIs in the month of August, appeared to injury his right hand or wrist on a check swing in the eighth inning. He was checked by athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and stayed in the game. He struck out and was seen flexing his hand as if in discomfort as he walked back to the dugout. The Phils have little margin for error in the final month of the season. Losing Dickerson for any period of time would hurt badly.

Ejected!

Usually mild-mannered Rhys Hoskins was ejected for the first time in his career for arguing a called third strike with home plate umpire Will Little in the third inning. Hoskins spiked his helmet at home plate and said a few choice words to Little.

Hoskins had a point. The call stunk. The pitch was up and out of the strike zone and Harper died at second base in what was still a one-run game.

Reinforcements coming

Rosters expand on Sunday. The Phillies are expected to bring up several players from the minors this week, starting with Jay Bruce. He is expected to come off the injured list and be available as a bat off the bench Sunday night.

Up next

The series concludes Sunday night with a nationally televised game. Zach Eflin (8-11, 4.50) pitches against Marcus Stroman, who is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in five starts with the Mets.

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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 add veteran depth in bullpen, infield with a flurry of signings

Phillies add veteran depth in bullpen, infield with a flurry of signings

Three weeks before the start of spring training, the Phillies were busy Wednesday finalizing minor-league contracts with three pitchers and a utility infielder.

The team announced the signings of veteran relievers Drew Storen, Bud Norris and Francisco Liriano, as well as veteran infielder Neil Walker.

Of the group, Liriano, 36, might have the best chance to impact the 2020 Phillies. The left-hander, a starter for the bulk of his major-league career, was used exclusively as a reliever with Pittsburgh last season. He pitched in 69 games and recorded an ERA of 3.47 over 70 innings. Liriano was particularly effective against lefty hitters, holding them to a .194 batting average (14 for 72.)

Storen, 32, and Norris, 34, are both right-handers with significant big-league time. Neither pitched in the majors last season because of health reasons. Storen was recovering from Tommy John surgery and Norris had a forearm injury. There are opportunities in the Phillies’ bullpen and both will be given a look in spring training.

Walker, 34, is an 11-year veteran who has spent much of his career as a regular second baseman, mostly with Pittsburgh. He has bounced around the diamond in recent seasons, particularly with the New York Yankees in 2018, where he played first base, second base, third base and both corner outfield spots. He played first, second and third with the Miami Marlins last season and hit .261 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 337 at-bats.

Walker, a switch-hitter, will vie for a spot as a reserve with the Phillies. Rosters expand from 25 to 26 men this season and that will allow the Phillies to carry an extra player on their bench. There are plenty of candidates for that job. Earlier this winter, the Phillies signed veteran infielders Josh Harrison, Phil Gosselin and Ronald Torreyes to minor-league deals. The team is also bringing veteran outfielders Matt Szczur and Mikie Mahtook to big-league camp on minor-league deals. The competition for a spot as a reserve outfielder will also include Nick Williams and Nick Martini, both of whom are on the 40-man roster.

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