Phillies

Will Phillies be in the mix for Nate Eovaldi?

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Will Phillies be in the mix for Nate Eovaldi?

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in MLB.

Monday was Bryce Harper, Tuesday was Michael Brantley and Wednesday was Manny MachadoThursday is dedicated to right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Nathan Eovaldi has been a bit of a journeyman in his career.

He won’t be for much longer.
 
Eovaldi built a strong free-agent case in helping the Boston Red Sox win the World Series last month. Over 22⅓ postseason innings as both a starter and reliever, he allowed just 15 hits and four earned runs (1.61 ERA) while striking out 16 and walking just three. His work in the World Series was epic as he answered the call out of the bullpen in an 18-inning Game 3 marathon against the Dodgers and picked up six innings. He took the loss when he allowed a solo homer in his seventh inning of work, but his performance inspired the Red Sox and they won the next two games for their fourth World Series title in 15 years.

Eovaldi, who will pitch at 29 next season, is a hard-throwing right-hander and we mean hard. His fastball regularly sits in the high-90s and it can reach triple-digits. Clearly, he is healthy after having Tommy John surgery twice on his right elbow.

The Red Sox acquired Eovaldi in a July trade from Tampa Bay. The Sox became his fifth team in seven years and he went 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 games, 11 starts, for that club.

Eovaldi appears to be on the threshold of a big breakthrough. He will have a brisk free-agent market as he seeks to put down some roots after bouncing around for a few seasons.

It is not clear whether the Phillies, who are in the market for starting pitching, will be among Eovaldi’s suitors. Oh, they like him, and certainly wouldn’t push him out of their rotation. But the Phillies are right-handed-heavy in their rotation and they would like to add a lefty either through a trade or free-agent signing. Lefties like Robbie Ray and James Paxton are trade possibilities while J.A. Happ, Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel are free-agent possibilities.

“In a perfect world, we would like to have a more balanced rotation,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said last week. “We’re not going to swap out a good righty for a less-good lefty. We’re not going to do that to have a lefty. But if we can make the rotation better and also add balance to our pitching staff, I think that’s something worth exploring.”

Eovaldi is a good one and surely the Phillies will perform their due diligence and have conversations with his representatives. But we see him landing with someone else as the Phillies focus on adding a lefty.

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Joe Girardi doesn't see penalty for Astros players as a deterrent

Joe Girardi doesn't see penalty for Astros players as a deterrent

The calls for Astros players to get suspended have gotten louder and louder as players have descended upon Florida and Arizona for spring training this past week. From Cody Bellinger to Mike Trout to Trevor Bauer to Nick Markakis and everywhere in between, players have made clear how angry they are about Houston's cheating scandal. 

It's going to take a long time for Astros players to gain back the respect of their peers.

It's not some easy fix, though. Astros players were granted immunity from discipline in order for their cooperation in MLB's investigation. MLB cannot, after the fact, revoke that immunity and decide to suspend players knowing what it now knows. That would never fly, and it shouldn't. Whether immunity should have been granted in the first place is the big question, but that point has passed.

Joe Girardi was asked on ESPN's Golic and Wingo Show Wednesday whether he thought MLB's punishment was sufficient.

The Phillies' first-year skipper doesn't think the current punishment serves as much of a deterrent.

"There are some people that lost their jobs that really were the people that had to pay for it, but there were a lot more people involved," Girardi said. "The financial gain for the players is substantial if they have big seasons because of this, so if there's no punishment for them, I'm not sure that it stops. I'm really not sure. Because the financial gain, similar to the steroid era, is very similar. If you know it's coming and you have a big year and you're a free agent, there's a lot (of money) to be made there and players want to take care of their families.

"I'm not exactly sure what the right answer is, but I don't know how much of a deterrent it is for players right now. There's not a huge deterrent for the players and I think there has to be to make sure that it stops."

People made fun of commissioner Rob Manfred for saying this but it should be acknowledged that the public ridicule the Astros are feeling right now will actually serve as some sort of deterrent. That doesn't mean MLB made the right call, that their decision-making process has been sound or that Manfred has done himself any favors publicly. But the disrespect factor around the league and around the country is real. Guys like Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, even a Justin Verlander — will they ever again command the respect they did before this? This is a permanent stain.

MLB recognized how difficult an investigation would have been without cooperation from key figures and went the route of immunity. It's a decision that will be questioned for years.

"If you're not in the clubhouse and you don't admit yourself that you did it, how do you take the word from another player that he was doing it? That's the hard part," Girardi said. "Like, if you get caught with something on your body, that to me definitely should be a suspension and a huge fine. But to say that someone was using it, it's his word against his word, that's pretty tough to penalize a player."

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A small step in Phillies camp for pitching prospect Spencer Howard

A small step in Phillies camp for pitching prospect Spencer Howard

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Spencer Howard, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, returned to a bullpen mound Wednesday and threw 27 pitches.

Ordinarily, a bullpen session in spring training is not news, but Howard had temporarily stopped his bullpen work after sustaining a minor knee injury — manager Joe Girardi called it a "tweak" — 10 days earlier.

Howard threw all of his pitches during the bullpen session as a gaggle of fans watched at Carpenter Complex.

"I only saw two pitches," said Girardi, who was busy bouncing around four fields. "But he felt great. That's the important thing."

Girardi said there was no timetable for when Howard would pitch in a Grapefruit League game. The Phillies are on record as saying they will take things slowly with Howard in the early part of the season. The 23-year-old right-hander is on an innings/workload limit this season and the Phillies would like to get a good chunk of those innings in the big leagues.

"Spencer has an innings limit so we have to think about this because we believe at some point he's going to play a role for us," Girardi said earlier in camp. "We can't go wear him out by June so we have to think about that. We're not going to waste a lot of innings in spring training."

It's possible that the Phillies could hold Howard back in extended spring training in the month of April so they can maximize his innings later in the season.

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