Phillies

Tigers 3, Phillies 1: Four hits ain't doing it, lads

Tigers 3, Phillies 1: Four hits ain't doing it, lads

BOX SCORE

The Phillies generated little offense in a 3-1 interleague loss to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

The Phils had just four hits on the night and two of them came in the first inning. They got their third hit in the second inning and did not get another one until the ninth. The Phils have been held to five or fewer hits in seven of their last 13 games.

Vince Velasquez suffered his first loss of the season. He was done in by a high pitch count and a third inning where nothing went right for the Phils.

The loss left the Phillies at 16-13.

The keys

• Nothing went right for the Phillies in the top of the third inning. Nicholas Castellanos reached base on a one-out double that was actually a routine pop-up to shallow right field. However, the ball dropped in because second baseman Cesar Hernandez was playing in a pronounced shift to the left side of the diamond. Right fielder Bryce Harper was also shaded well toward center field. After the game, Harper said that the ball was difficult to find in the twilight sky.

Castellanos ended up scoring on a single by Miguel Cabrera. Left fielder Nick Williams' throw was up the first base line and catcher J.T. Realmuto threw behind Cabrera at first. First baseman Rhys Hoskins appeared to nab Cabrera with the tag — and replays proved him right. Manager Gabe Kapler tried to challenge the call but was not allowed to by the umpiring crew because the request for a challenge came after 30 seconds. That proved costly because the next hitter, Niko Goodrum, clouted a two-run homer.

The shift.

A missed chance to challenge.

It's possible the Phils could have gotten out of that inning with just one run, one maybe none, scoring.

• Detroit rookie right-hander Spencer Turnbull likes pitching against the Phillies. He allowed just three hits and struck out seven in five innings of work against the Phils in his final spring training start. He gave up just one run in six innings in this one. He walked one, struck out five and got 15 swinging strikes, most of them on his fastball.

• Though trailing, Kapler used a number of his best relievers to keep the game close, but the offense never mounted a comeback.

Velasquez' night

The right-hander ran a high pitch count — he threw a predominance of fastballs and the Tigers fouled off many of them — and lasted just 3⅔ innings. He gave up six hits and three runs, all in that pivotal third inning. He walked three and struck out seven.

Sights and sounds

Bryce Harper went hitless with two strikeouts and dropped a ball in right field. He heard some boos as he walked back to the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning. Could Harper's first day off be coming Wednesday?

Something to think about

The Phillies have discussed the idea of using Nick Pivetta in the bullpen.

Up next

The two-game series ends Wednesday night. Aaron Nola (2-0, 5.68) pitches for the Phillies against lefty Daniel Norris (1-0, 3.93).

The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The designated hitter coming to the National League is an inevitability. To some, it's a welcome inevitability. Personally, I hate it, but I acknowledge I'm probably outnumbered.

It's not about watching pitchers hit. That is the over-simplified one-line response from DH proponents. It is about many additional elements of strategy not having a DH adds. If you're a pitcher, it affects how you approach the 6-7-8-9 hitters. There is more thinking ahead. 

That goes for managers, too, who face the difficult of question of, "Do I pull Jacob deGrom with two outs and two on in the bottom of the sixth inning in a scoreless game for the extra offense?"

That doesn't happen in the AL. The Justin Verlanders of the world pitch until they're no longer effective. There is no difficult decision for the manager. 

There is also less need for a bench. AL teams sometimes run three-man benches. And plenty of AL bench players exist only as defensive replacements and/or pinch-runners.

But whatever. It's probably coming. Could be coming as early as 2021, according to Jim Bowden.

It would actually benefit the Phillies, though. The Phils face a potential logjam in the corner infield with Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, Scott Kingery and Jean Segura. Only one of them can play third base. And Hoskins or Bohm would be at first base. If the DH came to the NL in 2021, the Phils could just slot Bohm into that position.

They could also use Hoskins, who isn't exactly an above-average defensive first baseman, as the DH. And toward the end of Bryce Harper's 13-year contract, his days of effective right field defense could be over and that may be the ideal spot for him.

It will be an adjustment when the NL rules change, and there will be some hard feelings, but the baseball world will probaby get over it within a few years. MLB has already adopted the three-batter rule for relievers, altered active rosters to 26 and prevented teams from utilizing their entire 40-man roster in September. These changes, in conjunction, are pretty significant too.

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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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