Takeaways after things get ugly late for Phillies in important opener vs. Mets

Takeaways after things get ugly late for Phillies in important opener vs. Mets


The Phillies are losing ground in the National League wild-card race.

They suffered a brutal 11-5 loss to the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. The defeat dropped the Phillies to 3 ½ games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild-card spot with 29 games to play.

The Phils entered play Tuesday night just a game back in the wild-card chase.

Friday night’s loss was troubling on a couple of counts: The Mets had lost six in a row coming in. Also, the Phillies wasted a second straight solid start from Aaron Nola because they couldn’t generate enough offense. Mets starter Zack Wheeler held the Phils to one run over six innings. The Phils scored four garbage-time runs in the ninth.

The Phillies’ bullpen, with the exception of Jose Alvarez, did not do the job.

Mike Morin and Jared Hughes, both picked up in recent weeks after being cut loose by Minnesota and Cincinnati, respectively, combined to give up five runs in the top of eighth inning as the Mets broke a 1-1 tie. The Mets scored five more in the ninth to salt it away.

Nola’s night

The Phillies ace turned in another strong outing — 6 1/3 innings, four hits, one run, two walks, seven strikeouts.

Nola rattled off six shutout innings and gave up just two hits before tiring in the seventh and allowing three of the first four batters in that inning to reach base. The fifth batter, pinch-hitter Wilson Ramos, drove a pinch-hit single up the middle to tie the game.

Nola then got a huge assist from lefty reliever Alvarez, who came on and got two outs with the bases loaded to keep the game tied at 1-1.

The awful eighth

Morin entered a tie game in the eighth and allowed three singles, a walk and two run as the Mets broke a 1-1 tie. Manager Gabe Kapler then went to Hughes as Todd Frazier came to the plate with two men on base. Frazier, 30 for 162 (.185) since the All-Star break, hit Hughes’ second pitch into the left field seats for a three-run homer.

Frazier hit another three-run homer (against Edgar Garcia) in the ninth.

What about that sinker?

Hughes has not been good since joining the Phillies after being waived by the Reds. He has faced 27 batters and given up four homers, not a good ratio for any pitcher, but especially for a sinkerballer.

How ‘bout some runs?

It would be nice if the Phillies could get Nola some run support. He had one bad inning Sunday in Miami and lost, 3-2. He went seven innings in that game. The Phils scored just one run with Nola in the game in this one. They nearly had two runs behind Nola, but Mets left fielder J.D. Davis threw out Corey Dickerson at the plate to end the fifth inning as he tried to score from second.

Nola vs. the Mets

In his last 11 starts against the Mets, Nola has allowed just 17 earned runs in 68 2/3 innings for a 2.23 ERA.

Not too shabby.

Hoskins warming?

Rhys Hoskins continued to show signs of emerging from a hellacious second-half slump. He had two singles and flied out deep to right in his first three at-bats.

Hoskins entered Wednesday night’s game hitting .166 since the All-Star break. He doubled and tripled in that game.

It goes without saying that the Phils could really use a hot Hoskins over the final month.

Actually, it’s a necessity.

Reinforcements coming

Rosters expand on Sunday. The Phillies are expected to activate Jay Bruce from the injured list at that time. He will serve as a bat off the bench. The Phils are expected to call up several other players next week.

Up next

The Phillies will send Jason Vargas (6-6, 4.09) to the mound Saturday afternoon to face Mets lefty Steven Matz (8-8, 4.06). Game time is 4:05.


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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

AP Images

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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