Yacksel Rios

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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Phillies make 1st wave of September call-ups

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Gabe Kapler has an expanded roster at his disposal, and it seems he’s going to make the most of it.

With rosters expanding Saturday, the Phillies recalled Aaron Altherr, Dylan Cozens and Yacksel Rios from Triple AAA Lehigh Valley. The team also activated relievers Edubray Ramos and Austin Davis off the 10-day DL and Pedro Florimon off the 60-day DL.

Jesmuel Valentin was designated for assignment. Mark Leiter Jr., who had been designated for assignment earlier this week, was claimed on waivers by the Blue Jays and is headed to Toronto.

Kapler hasn’t been hesitant to use his full bench and bullpen, and he now has a few more resources he can use.

All the players activated have spent time with the Phillies this season. Altherr was demoted in July after a disappointing start to the season. He hit just .171 in 248 plate appearances. He should provide another good defensive replacement and pinch-running option late in games, along with another powerful bat off the bench.

Cozens is 2 for 20 with 14 strikeouts at the major-league level. Like Altherr and recent addition Jose Bautista, he's an option who Kapler can turn to for power.

Florimon, who had been sidelined since May 18 with a broken foot, is a versatile defensive player. 

Rios, Ramos and Davis should give Kapler even more flexibility out of the bullpen.

After Friday night’s 2-1 win in 10 innings over the Cubs, the Phillies trail the Braves for first place in the NL East by two games with 28 games remaining. Seven of the Phillies’ final 11 games are against Atlanta.

This is the first wave of September call-ups for the Phillies. More moves could be coming later in the month once Lehigh Valley's playoff run ends. 

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Phillies use bats to rebound from debacle for doubleheader split with Mets

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BOX SCORE

The Phillies were able to flush a horrendous performance in the opener and come back and win the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets on Thursday night.

Zach Eflin pitched 6 2/3 innings and Rhys Hoskins clubbed a three-run homer to lead a 9-6 victory.

The win came on the heels of an ugly 24-4 loss in the first game. The Phillies made four errors in the game and their pitchers were charged with 11 unearned runs. The Mets had 11 extra-base hits in the opener, including three homers, against five Phillies pitchers, two of which were position players.

Phillies pitching held the Mets to nine hits in the nightcap. They had 25 in the opener.

By coming back and earning a split in the doubleheader, the second-place Phils were able to pick up a half-game on first-place Atlanta in the NL East standings. The Braves' lead is 1½ games. 

Things did not get off to a promising start in the second game as Eflin allowed three straight doubles and two runs to open the game.

The right-hander got things in order after that. He rattled off five straight scoreless innings before the Mets scored twice in the seventh and manager Gabe Kapler went to his bullpen. Luis Garcia and Victor Arano were effective and Seranthony Dominguez cleaned up a little mess in the ninth to close it out with a strikeout of dangerous Jose Bautista with two men on base and the Mets down by three.

Hoskins homered in the first game but also made a costly error in the Mets’ 10-run fifth inning.

After the Mets scored twice in the first inning of the second game, Hoskins clubbed a three-run homer against Steven Matz in the bottom of the inning to put the Phils ahead. They never relinquished the lead.

Hoskins has three homers in the last four games and 25 on the season.

Scott Kingery, who limbered up with some time on the mound in the first game, started at shortstop and clubbed a solo homer in the second inning.

The Phillies had 14 hits. Wilson Ramos had his second three-hit night in as many games since joining the club. Hoskins, Kingery, Nick Williams and Cesar Hernandez all had two apiece.

Eflin is 9-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 17 starts.

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