Pat Neshek

Phillies make roster moves, reinstate Odubel Herrera, but for how long?

Phillies make roster moves, reinstate Odubel Herrera, but for how long?

The Phillies had a busy day tidying up their roster on Monday.

Let’s get right to it:

The club declined 2020 contract options on pitchers Jared Hughes, Pat Neshek and Jason Vargas. They are all free agents, though there is nothing preventing them from re-signing with the Phillies later in the offseason.

The team outrighted the following five players from the 40-man roster and all elected free agency. They include pitchers Jerad Eickhoff, Mike Morin, Blake Parker and Edubray Ramos and infielder Phil Gosselin. These players are also eligible to re-sign with the Phillies later in the offseason.

Eickhoff is the most notable departure on the list. The 29-year-old right-hander came to the Phillies from Texas in the Cole Hamels deal in July 2015. He was the Phils’ top starter in 2016, recording a 3.65 ERA in 33 starts, but was hampered by injuries in subsequent years.

In a huge no-brainer, pitcher Jake Arrieta exercised his $20 million player option for 2020. Arrieta had long ago conceded that he would not opt-out of his deal, as was his right. His market would not have been good after going 18-19 in his first two seasons with the Phillies and having elbow surgery in September. Arrieta is expected to be fully healthy by spring training.

Arrieta was reinstated to the 40-man roster from the 60-day injured list. Pitchers Víctor Arano, Seranthony Domínguez, David Robertson, Robert Stock and Adam Morgan and outfielder Andrew McCutchen were also reinstated from the 60-day injured list. Players on the 60-day IL don't count against the 40-man roster, but they must be reinstated a week after the World Series.

In another long required procedural move, the Phillies removed outfielder Odubel Herrera from the restricted list. He now counts toward the 40-man roster.

Herrera had been suspended for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic abuse after an incident in May. Though legal charges were dropped, Herrera was still disciplined by MLB.

Herrera still has two years and more than $20 million remaining on his contract. The Phillies cannot void his contract and they can only release him for baseball reasons. He could be traded, with the Phils eating a big chunk of his salary, but his value is low and takers could be few. A decision on his future would likely come closer to spring training, after the Phillies have completed their offseason work. Herrera last played for the Phillies on May 26. There’s a chance that will be his last game with the club.

Monday’s roster moves left the Phillies with five open spots on their 40-man roster as the free-agent market gets set to open.

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Takeaways after Phillies hit 5 homers — including a wacky one — in win over Braves

Takeaways after Phillies hit 5 homers — including a wacky one — in win over Braves

BOX SCORE 

The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves at their own game Tuesday night.

The Phillies matched a season-high with five home runs and those long balls accounted for all their runs in a 6-5 win in front of just 24,220 at Citizens Bank Park.

The homers came early and often for the Phillies. J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Corey Dickerson all went deep in the first inning as the Phillies build an early 4-0 lead.

After the Braves tied the game, Scott Kingery smacked an inside-the-park homer in the third inning to give the Phillies a lead. Ultimately, the Phils needed Dickerson’s second homer of the night, a solo shot in the sixth, and lots of good relief pitching, to hold off the Braves.

The Phillies entered the game ranked 11th in the NL with 186 homers. The Braves were second with 229. The Phils ended up out-homering the Braves, 5-1.

The standings

With 18 games left, the Phillies are still alive in a crowded NL wild-card race. They entered the day three games out and could pick up a game depending on the outcome of the Chicago Cubs game in San Diego.

Two extremes of pitching

Phillies starter Jason Vargas struggled. He could not hold a 4-0 lead. He lasted just three innings and threw 77 pitches, only 39 of which were strikes.

Vargas’ mates got him the lead before he officially left the game, then the bullpen did a terrific job protecting that lead. Gabe Kapler used five relievers and they racked up six innings of one-run ball to seal the win.

Jared Hughes had one of the biggest outs when he got dangerous Josh Donaldson to ground into a double play to end the top of the seventh. He then allowed a homer to make it a one-run game in the eighth.

Hector Neris protected the lead for the save.

Blake Parker pitched two scoreless innings.

Oh, what a catch! … No wait!

With two outs in the third inning and the game tied at 4-4, Kingery drove a high fly ball to center. The ball cleared the wall, but Atlanta centerfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. was able to leap and get his glove in the ball. He had the ball in the pocket of his glove and brought it back onto the field but could not hold on to it for a catch. Robbed of a conventional homer, Kingery alertly continued to run and he made it all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

Kingery’s 19th homer gave the Phils a 5-4 lead.

Heck of a pickup

General manager Matt Klentak has taken much criticism for not doing enough to fortify the pitching staff at the trade deadline, but he picked up a difference-making bat. Dickerson has eight homers and 34 RBIs in 33 games with the Phillies.

Defense shines

Phillies starter Vargas allowed six base runners and four runs as the Braves erased a four-run deficit in the third inning. The damage could have been worse if it weren’t for Kingery and Harper. They both made defensive gems in the inning, Kingery a diving catch in the alley with the bases full and Harper a long throw from right field to third base to cut down a runner.

The strong defense continued in the top of the sixth when Realmuto gunned down Acuna Jr., trying to steal second with two outs. Realmuto has thrown out 36 runners trying to steal this season.

Health check

Reliever Seranthony Dominguez continues to test his injured elbow. He will toss out to 90 feet this week and is tentatively scheduled to throw off a bullpen mound on Sept. 20. Dominguez has been down since early June, but doctors still believe his injury can be treated non-surgically.

Pat Neshek, who was already out for the season, had surgery to repair a torn hamstring on Tuesday.

Up next

Zach Eflin (8-11, 4.31) opposes Dallas Keuchel (7-5, 3.47) in the third game of the four-game series on Wednesday night. Eflin has pitched well in his last three starts. He has allowed just five earned runs and 15 hits in 18 innings while striking out 11 and walking just one over that span. Eflin’s recent success has coincided with his increased use of his two-seam fastball.



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Gabe Kapler coy about Sunday's starter for Phillies but roster moves likely to come

usa_gabe_kapler_phillies.jpg
USA Today Images/Isaiah J. Downing

Gabe Kapler coy about Sunday's starter for Phillies but roster moves likely to come

ATLANTA — Gabe Kapler is playing things close to the vest regarding Sunday's starting pitcher. The Phillies still have not announced who will start the series finale in Atlanta.

Here's what we know:

• It will not be Jake Arrieta on regular rest. Instead, the Phils will get Arrieta an extra day because of the off-day this past Thursday. Arrieta will start Monday's series opener in D.C.

• Cole Irvin will be involved Sunday in some form. He may not start, but he's likely to pitch multiple innings in relief as he did at Dodger Stadium on June 1.

If Irvin doesn't start, the other option is using an opener. However, this isn't as clear-cut as it was against the Dodgers, an extremely left-handed team with Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo.

The Braves come at you from both sides and they are unlikely to alter their batting order because of an opener. Friday night's win was their eighth in a row and they've won all eight with this lineup. 

Atlanta is not going to move Ronald Acuña Jr. down in the order just because a right-hander like Juan Nicasio or Vince Velasquez is beginning the game. The Braves are not going to move Freddie Freeman or Nick Markakis out of their customary spots batting third and fifth.

All that to say, the mind game with the Braves Sunday is unlikely to have a big impact. 

We could wind up seeing someone like Nicasio face the first two batters of the game, Acuña Jr. and Dansby Swanson, then Kapler make the call to the 'pen for Irvin. That would seem like the right spot with Freeman batting third, Markakis fifth, Brian McCann seventh and Ozzie Albies (switch-hitter) eighth.

Roster moves coming

The Phillies could have a couple of roster moves to make Sunday to make room for Irvin and the potential return of Pat Neshek. Neshek (shoulder) responded well after a bullpen session Friday and could be activated Sunday morning. 

If those two are added to the 25-man roster Sunday, the casualties would likely be two of Ranger Suarez, Jerad Eickhoff and J.D. Hammer.

What about Quinn?

The tentative plan was to activate Roman Quinn for this Braves series but now it's more likely he's activated in D.C. rather than Atlanta.

Quinn was hit by a pitch in the shoulder Friday night during a rehab game with Double A Reading and felt discomfort on a subsequent swing. He will not play Saturday night for Reading but will go through his normal pregame routine and the Phillies will formulate a plan from there.

They do not see the shoulder issue as anything serious. Quinn is sitting Saturday as a precaution, Kapler said.

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