Vance Worley

2 former Phillies find new teams

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2 former Phillies find new teams

It's been a busy few days in the ex-Phillie roster moves department.

Cameron Rupp and Andres Blanco both signed minor-league deals, Rupp with the Rangers and Blanco with the Brewers.

Rupp was a free agent after being released by the Phils on March 26. It wasn't surprising that he found a new team just a week later because of how few quality backup catchers there are leaguewide. At the very least, a team knows Rupp can provide some power off the bench.

Rupp was the odd man out among Phillies' catchers and his poor spring did not help. He went 7 for 37 (.189) with 15 strikeouts and was designated for assignment as camp came to a close.

In just over 1,000 career at-bats in the majors, Rupp has hit .234/.298/.407. He's hit 14 and 16 home runs the last two seasons.

Blanco was released by the Giants on March 23. Last season, his fourth with the Phillies, was a struggle. Blanco hit .192 with a .549 OPS after hitting .274 with a .795 OPS the previous three years. He turns 34 on April 11.

Elsewhere, Vance Worley reportedly opted out of his minor-league contract with the Reds and is now a free agent. Late last week, the Rangers designated Tommy Joseph for assignment and he accepted it. He'll play with Double A Frisco, while his former teammate Rupp will be at Triple A Round Rock in the same system.

Offense sizzles, pitching fizzles as Phillies drop 3 of 4 to Marlins

Offense sizzles, pitching fizzles as Phillies drop 3 of 4 to Marlins

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The Phillies' offense came alive over the last three days at Citizens Bank Park, but the starting pitching ...

It made you want to chant E-A-G-L-E-S.

The Phillies scored 28 runs in four games against the Miami Marlins — their most in a series since the 102-win season of 2011 — but they came away with just one win. They lost Thursday's series finale, 9-8, after the pitching could not hold a five-run lead in the middle innings (see Instant Replay).

"It's great to see the guys swing the bats and score eight runs the way they did, but pitching is the name of the game and we didn’t see much pitching today," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Spot starter Jake Thompson was tagged for seven hits including two home runs, four walks and five runs in five innings. He was returned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after the game.

While Thompson was not sharp, he was not the only reason the Phillies lost this game. The bullpen was not good (four runs, two homers) and rookie Nick Williams did not play well in center field. The Marlins' bullpen, meanwhile, pitched five scoreless innings in the series finale.

In addition to scoring 28 runs in the series, their most since scoring 28 against Cincinnati in a four-game series in May 2011, the Phillies had 21 extra-base hits, their most in a series in two years. Eleven of those extra-base hits were home runs, the most the Phils had in a series since they had 11 against the Mets in an August 2007 series.

It's clear that newcomer Rhys Hoskins has given the offense a lift. He homered in three of the four games in the series and has gone deep in five of the last six games, giving him eight homers in the last 11 games.

Previously slumping Tommy Joseph has kicked it in with the bat, as well. He had three doubles, three homers and six RBIs in the series. He keyed a five-run third inning Thursday with a three-run homer against Vance Worley. The Phils built their lead to 8-3 when Williams stroked a two-run double in the fourth.

With Williams, Hoskins and Joseph, the Phillies have been producing some thunder in the 3-4-5 holes in recent days.

"We're getting close," Mackanin said. "It's a better feeling where I can fill in the top five spots and go from there."

If offense was all that mattered, the Phillies would have won more than one game against the Marlins. But the Phils' starting pitching and their defense (particularly Thursday) were quite suspect.

Mark Leiter Jr. backboned the Phillies' only win in the series with seven shutout innings on Wednesday night (see story). In the other three games, Phillies starting pitchers (Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta and Thompson) combined to give up 23 hits and 18 runs in 12 2/3 innings.

Not good.

Not only was the starting pitching rough on Thursday, but the defense was ragged. Williams, a rookie corner outfielder by trade who is filling in for injured Odubel Herrera in center field, got exposed in the position. He misplayed two balls in the first inning — one was lost in the sun — and that led to a run.

Later in the game, Williams was involved in two crucial plays. He jumped for a ball that appeared to be clearly off the wall and the ensuing carom bounced away from him, allowing J.T. Realmuto to circle the bases with a game-tying, two-run, inside-the-park homer. It was a tough play and a tough read, but a more experienced centerfielder might have played it differently, and it didn't help that rightfielder Hyun Soo Kim wasn't quick reacting to the carom.

Williams' inexperience at the position also showed in the eighth inning when Christian Yelich went first to third on a base hit up the middle, setting up the go-ahead run.

"Probably," Mackanin said when asked if Yelich took advantage of Williams' inexperience on the play.

Williams said the play was a learning experience.

"He's tried to run on me a couple of times," Williams said. "I just came up throwing. I want to limit those. I was thinking about that. That's another thing that can get to you, but it happened."

After his heady play on the bases, Yelich scored the tie-breaking run on a sacrifice fly to center by Realmuto. Williams made a nice, athletic, diving catch, one that looked good on the highlight reel, if nothing else.

The loss left the Phillies at 46-80 on the season. There are 36 games to go. The Phillies need to go 17-19 in those 36 games to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1961.

Phillies-Marlins 5 things: Jake Thompson aims to follow Mark Leiter Jr.'s lead

Phillies-Marlins 5 things: Jake Thompson aims to follow Mark Leiter Jr.'s lead

Phillies (46-79) vs. Marlins (62-63)
1:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies got back in the win column on Wednesday night after a pair of losses during Tuesday's doubleheader. The Phils aim for their second straight four-game split with Jake Thompson getting called up for the start. Former Phillies right-hander Vance Worley will take the hill for the Marlins.

Here are five things to know for the series finale on Thursday afternoon:

1. Calling on Thompson
Thompson returns to the rotation for the first time in three weeks after a lackluster outing in Anaheim on Aug. 2.

Thompson has made only five appearances this season, including two starts. Before allowing seven runs (two earned) on nine hits in five innings against the Angels, he threw five shutout innings in a spot start against the Braves at home. 

In 15 innings this year, he's allowed 12 runs on 20 hits (and seven walks). He's struck out 10 batters and allowed four home runs, three of which came against the Angels. 

The 23-year-old righty has made three starts in Triple A Lehigh Valley in the last few weeks. He had one quality start against Charlotte, the White Sox's Triple A team, but in 17 1/3 innings he has given up 21 hits and 10 runs. He's even walked 10 compared to just 14 strikeouts. 

He has a 4.20 ERA this season, but his peripherals suggest he's been much worse than that, particularly with his high walk and low strikeout rates. He has yet to face the Marlins in his career before Thursday.

2. Unleash the Vanimal
Worley, who spent his first few seasons in Philadelphia, returns to Citizens Bank Park for just the third time as an opposing player.

He's spent the entire season in the Marlins' system and has faced the Phillies twice in relief earlier this season, both times at Marlins Park. In four innings, he's allowed three runs, all of which came in one outing.

The "Vanimal" is back in the Marlins' rotation after spending over a month in relief. The 29-year-old righty has a 3.08 ERA in his last five starts and the team is 4-1 in his starts. His peripherals aren't ideal with just an 11-9 K-BB rate while allowing 23 hits in 26 1/3 innings. However, he's allowed only one home run, though all five starts came in pitcher's parks.

He has a 4.82 ERA in 56 innings this season and his strikeout rate is near his career low. Worley has been able to cut down on both his walks and home runs. He is not close to his 2011 rookie campaign with the Phils, but he's still been a serviceable pitcher in the Marlins' rotation.

Worley's fastball sits around 90 mph and he throws it 90 percent of the time. He throws three different fastballs — a sinker, cutter and four-seamer — while mixing in an occasional curveball.

In 13 career innings against the Phillies, he has a 4.85 ERA. Freddy Galvis is 4 for 6 with a BB against him. Tommy Joseph is 2 for 2 while Maikel Franco is 1 for 2 with a double.

3. Dog days of the rotation
While the Phillies are 33 games under .500, there is plenty to watch down the stretch, particularly in the team's rotation. 

After Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin were placed on the 60-day and 10-day disabled list, respectively, there are now a few rotation spots up for grabs surrounding Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff, now the longest-tenured members of the rotation. Even Eickhoff is getting an extra day between starts after his velocity drop last time around, so there is plenty of flux surrounding this staff.

It's hard not to be reminded of last season, when nearly every member of the rotation saw their season end early of Eickhoff and Jeremy Hellickson. That led to plenty of young starters, including Thompson, getting the chance to show off their stuff in the last month or two of the season. 

That is the benefit and curse of the Hellickson trade. The team no longer has a veteran innings eater, so the last 40 days of the season is a chance for pitchers like Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta and Thompson to sink or swim. Mark Leiter Jr. kept his hat firmly in the ring with seven shutout innings of one-hit ball on Wednesday (see story).

An interesting wild card in all of this is Henderson Alvarez, who the Phillies signed to a minor-league deal. The former All-Star underwent shoulder surgery for the second consecutive year in 2016 and couldn't find a deal in affiliated ball this season. He was solid for the Long Island Ducks in seven starts and one report had him hitting 98 mph with his fastball. 

You can laugh at independent ball like the Atlantic League all you want, but Rich Hill has made a pretty impressive comeback also starting with the Ducks and there are other success stories to point to.

While Rhys Hoskins and the other hitting prospects will likely grab the headlines for the Phils in the last month or so, how the rotation shakes out will also have a strong affect on next season and even the offseason. If pitchers like Thompson and Leiter don't impress down the stretch, the team may feel compelled to sign more veteran starters to take the innings next year.

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Hoskins drilled another homer on Wednesday, his seventh of the year, and is now batting .271/.407/.729 through 14 career games. That's Aaron Judge/Cody Bellinger-esque right now.

Marlins: Another guy hitting like Judge and Bellinger is the man to whom Judge is most often compared: Giancarlo Stanton. He went 0 for 4 on Wendesday but he's up to 46 home runs this year, including 13 in August alone.

5. This and that
• Hill threw nine no-hit innings on Wednesday for the Dodgers before allowing a walk-off home run in the 10th inning. The last pitcher to throw 10 innings in a game? Cliff Lee on April 18, 2012, with the Phillies. 

Before Lee, the last two to do it were both former Phillies, although they each did it before they came to Philadelphia. Both Roy Halladay and Aaron Harang accomplished the feat in 2007.

• The Phillies are 5-6 against the Marlins this season, but they're 3-2 against the Fish at CBP. The Phils went 10-9 last season against Miami, the only team they had a winning record against in division. 

• After facing the Cubs for three games this weekend, the Phillies play 17 straight games in the division. Believe it or not, the team is actually 25-24 against NL East opponents this year, buoyed by an 11-2 mark against the Braves.