Phillies

Victor Arano loses spot in Phillies' bullpen, leaving door open for a different arm

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Victor Arano loses spot in Phillies' bullpen, leaving door open for a different arm

Updated: 8:23 p.m.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Victor Arano was an important member of the Phillies’ bullpen last season. He recorded a 2.73 ERA in 60 games. He struck out 60 batters, walked 17 and gave up just six homers in 59 1/3 innings. 

The previous year, he came up from the minors for a look and gave up just two runs in 10 2/3 innings.

That's a 2.57 ERA in his first 70 big-league games.

In most cases, numbers like these would ensure Arano’s roster spot entering the new season.

But the 24-year-old right-hander struggled so badly this spring that Phillies officials decided Saturday night to option Arano to Triple A Lehigh Valley along with right-hander Yacksel Rios.

“We weigh track record heavily and lean on it pretty strongly,” manager Gabe Kapler said Saturday before the decision came down. “However, without an indication that he’s feeling confident, it’s something to examine closely. You can discount one, two, three outings. It’s hard to discount five or six outings of struggle, consecutively.”

Arano pitched two-thirds of an inning in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Pirates. He gave up a hit, a walk and a run. In four innings of work this spring, he has given up 20 runs. He has been tagged for 17 hits, including four homers.

“By every account, he was outstanding for us the last two years, one of our higher-leverage relievers, a guy we depended on in the biggest situations,” Kapler said after the game. “You still also have to pay close attention to what is happening right in front of you and we’ve seen several outings in a row that are worth really digging into to find out how we can help him.

“I think it’s cause to really dig on what’s happening for him both mentally and mechanically. I think he’s absolutely fine from a physical perspective. His legs are underneath him. He’s strong. I think his arm speed is fine.

“But you know, today the ball didn’t come out great. It’s worth having a conversation with him and really discussing what he needs to get back on track because at this point it hasn’t been very effective and I think he knows that. If he was standing next to me right now, he would tell you there’s a better performance in there.”

Through a translator, Arano indicated that his struggles are mechanical. He said he is struggling to find the release point on his slider, which was an excellent pitch for him last season.

Arano had pitched on back-to-back days — he gave up a homer to Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees on Friday night. The Phils play their final two games in Florida on Sunday and Monday. The club knew before then that Arano will have to clean up his mechanical problems and build some confidence in the minors before getting back to Philadelphia.

The Phillies open the season on Thursday.

Right now, these seven relievers look set in the bullpen:

Hector Neris (R)

David Robertson (R)

Seranthony Dominguez (R)

Pat Neshek (R)

Juan Nicasio (R)

Adam Morgan (L)

Jose Alvarez (L)

With Arano and Rios failing to make the club, a spot looks open for Edubray Ramos as the eighth reliever.

The Phils could also use Vince Velasquez out of the bullpen for the first week of the season. 

Tommy Hunter will open on the injured list.

We’ll know in a few days how the bullpen fully shakes out. Unfortunately for Arano, he had made some final decisions easy for club officials.

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Rockies 6, Phillies 2: Pair of homers doom Phillies in unfriendly Coors Field

Rockies 6, Phillies 2: Pair of homers doom Phillies in unfriendly Coors Field

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Coors Field continues to be an unfriendly place for the Phillies. They were thumped, 6-2, by the Colorado Rockies in the first game of a four-game series Thursday night.

Zach Eflin and Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland hooked up in a nice pitchers' duel through five innings. The Rockies then pull ahead on a pair of homers by Ryan McMahon in the sixth and seventh innings.

Colorado, which started the season slow, has won four in a row to go to 7-12.

The Phils saw their two-game winning streak come to an end. They are 11-7.

The Phils are 4-11 against the Rockies since the start of 2017. They have lost five in a row in Coors Field, dating to last September, and been outscored 45-9 in those games. 

The keys

• It was a scoreless pitchers' duel heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. The Rockies got the lead runner on base when shortstop Scott Kingery made a throwing error. Trevor Story then stroked a base hit up the middle. Eflin then gave up a three-run homer to McMahon on a 1-1 changeup as the Rockies broke the deadlock and took a 3-0 lead.

• Freeland was selected by the Phillies in the 35th round of the 2011 draft but chose to attend the University of Evansville. Three years later, he was a first-round pick of the Rockies, going eighth overall, one slot after of Aaron Nola. Freeland was brilliant in this one. He held the Phils to two hits – a single by Eflin and an infield hit by Cesar Hernandez — over six shutout innings. He walked none and struck out seven. He left the game because of a blister problem.

• Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto gunned down two runners trying to steal second. He also clubbed a two-run homer in the seventh to briefly make it a 3-2 game. The Phils left a runner in scoring position in that inning and McMahon clubbed a two-run homer, this one against Victor Arano, in the bottom of the inning to put the game out of reach.

Eflin’s night

It was good until the sixth inning when he elevated a changeup with two men on base. Eflin allowed just four hits over the first five innings. He walked three and struck out just two.

Eflin is 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA in four starts.

Out-hit

Coors Field is a hitter’s haven, but the Phils were out-hit, 11-5, in this one. Four of the hits were singles and one of those was an infield hit.

Bryce Harper went hitless with a walk in four trips to the plate. He has just two hits in his last 14 at-bats. He has, however, reached base in all 18 games.

Rhys Hoskins went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch. He was up 3-0 in the count then struck out against Scott Oberg with two men on base to end the top of the eighth inning. Hoskins is hitless in his last 12 at-bats.

Transaction

Odubel Herrera went on the injured list and Roman Quinn was activated. All the details and what it means here.

Quinn had a tough night with four strikeouts.

Up next 

Vince Velasquez looks to build on Sunday’s strong outing in Miami when he pitches against righty German Marquez on Friday night.

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More on the Phillies

At The Yard podcast: Mounting injuries; Phillies pursued Edwin Diaz; bat flips

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At The Yard podcast: Mounting injuries; Phillies pursued Edwin Diaz; bat flips

On this edition of At The Yard, Corey Seidman and Jim Salisbury discuss Nick Pivetta being sent down to AAA. How much concern should there be with Aaron Nola's slow start?

What impact will Roman Quinn have? How does he fit in this lineup?

Also, do the Phillies need to make a move to help their bullpen? And this week's version of the MLB bat flip controversy.

0:30 - Nick Pivetta sent down to AAA.
5:00 - How much concern do the guys have over Aaron Nola's start?
8:00 - Can Jake Arrieta sustain this level?
10:00 - How does Roman Quinn fit in the lineup?
13:00 - The importance of a healthy David Robertson.
17:00 - Do the Phillies need to make a move if Robertson isn't healthy moving forward?
19:30 - How involved were the Phillies with Edwin Diaz?
22:30 - This week in bat flip controversy.

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