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We Should Be GMs

Phillies Baseball

Updated: 2017-07-20T12:12:43.300-04:00


About to Have a Good Problem


Aaron Nola is starting to look like the Aaron Nola we all anticipated when he was drafted a few years back. Nick Pivetta is doing alright. Mark Leiter Jr. has surprised me so far. Ben Lively isn't striking anybody out, but he's still doing his job. Jerad Eickhoff is on the mend, as are Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez.

That's 7 starting pitchers. A rotation only holds 5 and the Phillies' current one still has veteran Jeremy Hellickson in it for the time being.
One easy fix - deal Hellickson for whatever. Honestly, he should have been dealt last season.

My rotation after Hellickson is traded would be - 1) Nola, 2) Eickhoff, 3) Pivetta, 4) Lively, and 5) Eflin. Move Leiter back to the bullpen and let Velasquez get some innings there as well.

Oh, the Phils have some guys in the minors seemingly ready too. Tom Eshelman, a forgotten man in the Giles trade, has bee excellent through 11 Triple-A starts (1.96 ERA/0.94 WHIP) and Brandon Leibrandt is making a good impression as well (7-2 with a 3.23 ERA/1.35 WHIP combined between Reading and Lehigh Valley). Of course, Jake Thompson is still around, but he's been terrible this year (5.97 ERA/1.67 WHIP) and Mark Appel continues to toil (4.87 ERA/1.67 WHIP).

It's Klentak's job to figure out what he's got moving into 2018. Personally, I think they're mostly backend starters with the exception of Nola and Eickhoff.

Taking stock, halfway through the season


We're halfway through the season, so let's take stock of where the Phillies are, statistically. Yes, we know it's bad. But some things might surprise you how bad they are. Other things might surprise you with a bit of improvement. We'll start off with the record. 201636-45, 13 games back201728-53, 20 games backSo, the Phillies are eight games back of last year's pace. That's a lot. If they win eight more games in the second half, they'll have 64 wins on the season. Let's look at the rest of the numbers. We'll compare this year's half season to last year's full season. Then add in how much the stats differ at this point from half of last season's totals.On offense Stat                       2016    2017  DifferenceRuns per game       3.90    3.76        +.14Times shut out        11        4           - 1.5Batting Average    .240    .243        + .03On-Base Pctg        .301    .305        + .04Slugging Pctg       .384     .392       + .08OPS                      .685     .697        + .12Stolen Bases            96        33        - 15Caught Stealing       45        17        - 5.5Home Runs             161      79        -1.5So the offense is pretty much treading water. We see slight improvements in on-base and slugging percentages, batting average and runs scored per game. But we're seeing slightly fewer home runs and a huge dropoff in stolen base attempts. I can't help but think a slightly more aggressive - but smart - approach on the basepaths could help this team capitalize more on those small improvements. From the moundERA                      4.63     4.74      +.11FIP                        4.34     4.80      +.46WHIP                   1.346    1.415    +.069H/9                        9.2        9.4       +.2BB/9                     2.9        3.4       +.5HR/9                     1.3        1.4       +.1K/9                       [...]

NO! NO! NO! The Phillies should not trade Odubel Herrera


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Yes, Odubel Herrera had a listless month of May. He hit .183/.196/.257. Yes, he has stumbled on the bases in frustrating and repeated fashion recently.
But the argument that Herrera isn't a valuable building block moving forward is patently absurd. Anyone who argues the Phillies should trade Herrera is a mouthbreather who couldn't beat a stalk of celery in a game of tic-tac-toe if you spotted that person two X's.
Look, if some team comes calling and offers two top 100 prospects as part of a package, you probably pull the trigger.
But Odubel Herrera will not make more than $12.5 million during his contract with the Phillies. With options, it can run through the 2023 season.
Meanwhile, Herrera enters today's game, despite his worst month in the big leagues, with a .698 OPS, with 5 home runs and 5 stolen bases. He has a .922 OPS this month. It's not hard to imagine Herrera ending the year with a third straight season of an OPS above .760. It's not hard to imagine him having a second straight season with more than 10 homers and 10 stolen bases. He's probably going to eclipse his career high of 30 doubles. He's on track to soar past his career high of 42 extra-base hits in a season.
Trading Herrera at this point, just to trade him, would be a horrifying mistake.

Just how bad is it?


The Philadelphia Phillies are on pace to lose 110 games this season. They're currently sitting on a record of 24-51, worst in baseball. They've been outscored by 102 runs by their opponents. Their offense and pitching are nearly the worst in baseball. They're getting below average production from every position except shortstop and left field (thanks Galvis, Kendrick, and Altherr!). This team is terrible. No hyperbole in that statement.
R - 285 (29th)
AVG - .242 (27th)
OBP - .305 (27th)
SLG - .391 (28th)
OPS - .695 (28th)
DBL - 135 (12th tied)
TRPL - 14 (10th tied)
HR - 73 (29th)
SB - 29 (22nd tied)
BB - 220 (25th)
K - 639 (19th)

ERA - 4.90 (27th)
WHIP - 1.44 (26th)
QS - 29 (25th tied)
K - 552 (26th)
BB - 252 (17 tied)
HR - 107 (24th)
OPS - .802 (28th)
K:BB - 2.19 (23rd)

Offense Positional Ranks:
P - .142/.376 (7th)
C - .215/.667 (23rd)
1B - .241/.734 (25th)
2B - .282/.723 (19th)
SS - .246/.720 (14th)
3B - .216/.619 (29th)
LF - .272/.807 (9th)
CF - .252/.692 (24th)
RF - .236/.698 (27th)
DH - .333/.965 (3rd)
PH - .258/.735 (9th)

Pitching Splits:
SP ERA - 4.97 (27th)
SP WHIP - 1.42 (25th)
RP ERA - 4.81 (25th)
RP WHIP - 1.47 (29th)

Who's been the biggest disappointment this year?


Part of the thing that amazes me about how bad this year has been is that so many players, individually, have been awful. If you told me the team was going to finish with 90-plus losses, I'd have been as shocked as if you'd told me it would have won 90-plus games. But with the losses, I'd still expect to see some growth among several players. Which players have been most disappointing?Zach EflinA big part of the problem for the Phillies is that Eflin will be the first of five expected starters to make this list. He's currently shelved with an arm injury, but he got rocked when he took the hill, posting an ERA above 6.Jerad EickhoffThe right-hander has pitched very effectively since arriving in the Cole Hamels trade. This year, however, he's taken a leap backwards. He currently holds a 4.81 ERA, 4.17 FIP and unsightly 1.503 WHIP. He's also only gotten past the sixth inning twice all year.Maikel FrancoThe third baseman was expected to be a cornerstone of the lineup. Instead, he's batting .223/.285/.368. The skills are clearly there, but they don't translate. Jeremy HellicksonHelly came into the year having pitched 18 months of strong baseball. There was no real reason to believe he'd have a 4.91 ERA, 5.91 FIP and 1.325 WHIPOdubel HerreraNo doubt the Phillies' center fielder has been playing well of late. He's got a .333/.351/.587 line in his last 17 games, but a .250/.287/.402 mark overall. Based on his superb track record from 2015-16, he should continue that bounce back. Hector NerisJust looking at his numbers, the young fireballer looks like he's having a mediocre season. The problem is the Phillies expected much more out of him. His 1.364 WHIP and 4.05 FIP show he hasn't been as lights out as expected.Aaron NolaThe right-hander was supposed to be a building block. He's flashed some brilliance, but he's also missed time with an injury and currently has a 4.76 ERA.Cameron RuppThe Phillies backstop has looked downright awful at points this season and carries a .203/.292/.358 slash line into tonight's game. His game-calling has given Pete Mackanin and Bob McClure fits.Michael SaundersThe rental was supposed to solidify the lineup with professional at-bats. Management and fans expected much more than last year's carousel of incompetence. Instead, they got worse production. Saunders has been punchless offensively and been a nonfactor in the field. Vincent VelasquezThe right-hander with the electric arm has been lit up so far. When he's pitched. Velasquez has made just 10 of his 14 possible starts. In them, he's given up a 5.58 ERA, 5.25 FIP and 1.460 WHIP. For my money, this is how I'd rank them. 1. Eickhoff. I never expected him to be an ace, but figured he'd be a solid rotation piece moving forward. He needs to have a strong second half if he is going to be a part of the future here. 2. VV. I've never been as high on him as most. The arm is brilliant, but it's better served as a late inning guy. 3. Hellickson. If Hellickson could have gone into July with an ERA in the 2.90-3.60 range and had five or six starts of seven innings or more, the Phillies would have been able to get a nice package for him from a contending team. 4. Aaron Nola. We've seen enough good starts to know he's part of the future if he can stay healthy. 5. Franco. We've reached a point where the Phillies have to wonder if he's worth having around much longer. They could bring up Kingery and Crawford and move Galvis to third and the lineup might be better.6. Eflin. I'd hoped he'd pitch a lot better. Didn't expect a Cy Young out of him, but a competent back of the rotation piece would be nice. 7. Herrera. No doubt, he's struggled, but I still have plenty of faith in him as a top of the order guy on a contender. Oh, yeah. Mike Schmidt can get bent. 8. Neris. If Neris has pitched better in the first 50 games, this team might actually have one or two more wins. That's not much, but it would be nice. 9. Rupp. I figured he'd be a nice back-up catcher whe[...]

Phillies take Haseley in first round


The Phillies selected Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley in the first round of the draft on Monday. While one could argue pitching should be a priority, the second and third round can give you a lot of rewards there if you're willing to pay the price.

We looked at Haseley as one of the five players we expected to the Phillies to pick. It's a solid selection, but with Pavin Smith off the board just one slot before, I can't help but think the Phillies missed one there.

A good thing about Haseley is that he comes from Virginia, which is becoming a power when it comes to producing Major League players.

The university currently has 10 players in the Big Leagues. Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman leads the way. Sean Doolittle is an All-Star reliever (career 3.07 ERA, 2.50 FIP, .945 WHIP) for Oakland. Mark Reynolds has hit more than 200 home runs in his career.

The Angels picked Matt Thaiss last year and he's already climbing their system. Cleveland selected Mike Papi in the first round in 2014, and was hitting .287/.387/.434 in AA before a promotion to AAA earlier this season.

Taking a look at the Phillies' possible draft picks


Thanks to YouTube, baseball fans can have more of an educated opinions on the players their favorite teams will select in the draft. I spent several hours the past few days looking at some of the players to give you a brief breakdown of what the draft might offer for the Phillies.Before we move on to the players, here's the skinny. The draft starts at 7 p.m. The Phillies pick eighth, with the Minnesota Twins, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks on the board ahead of them. Eighth isn't a bad spot because this seems to be a fairly deep draft. Who will be off the board?It seems a few players are all-but guaranteed to be selected with the first six picks. They are Brendon McKay, Hunter Green (What a baseball name), MacKenzie Gore, Royce Lewis, and Keston Hiura. I've seen a few guys other guys in and out of that top six, but rarely seen these five guys not in it.If any of these guys fall to the Phillies, they have to pick them.The Fab FiveThere are five players I regularly see falling in the 5-10 range, but rarely see in the top 5. We'll briefly break them down alphabetically. I'm not going to pretend I know more about these guys than I do. But what I know, I'll give you. An argument could be made the Phillies should concentrate on pitching. But there is a very good chance a very good prospect will fall to them at 8. It's unlikely they won't dive on that opportunity.Austin Beck allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" style="height: 100%; left: 0; position: absolute; width: 100%;" width="640">There is a good chance this right-handed hitting outfielder will be around when the Phillies pick at 8. In some ways, he reminds you of Mickey Moniak, the player the Phillies selected first overall last year. He's a high schooler, though. The Phillies have picked several high schoolers a lot recently (Moniak, Larry Greene Jr., Cornelius Randolph, J.P. Crawford) with so-so success. Alex Faedo allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" style="height: 100%; left: 0; position: absolute; width: 100%;" width="640">Faedo has impressive stuff, but the right-hander out of Florida has some iffy mechanics. The Phillies selected a college starter at 7 not to long ago and it probably will work out. I'm still very high on Aaron Nola, though. We'll have to see if they'll take a chance on a guy with Faedo's stuff at 8, when I see a lot of mock drafts putting him a bit later. Adam Haseley allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" style="height: 100%; left: 0; position: absolute; width: 100%;" width="640">Here's another outfielder with a ton of tools. But as a prospect from Virginia, which seems to be doing a great job of sending its collegiate players to the Major Leagues, he's closer to the Bigs. He reminds you of a young Darin Erstad, plays good defense, gets on base, has some noticeable stuff. Also, he was a solid pitcher.Pavin Smith allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" style="height: 100%; left: 0; position: absolute; width: 100%;" width="640">I'm not a huge fan of player comparisons, but that seems to be the gig when it comes to looking at prospects. That said, his swing reminds me of a combination of Joe Mauer and Jim Thome. The Virginia first baseman could be an impact bat. He should be around when the Phillies pick. He's probably my favorite player of the group.Kyle Wright allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" style="height: 100%; left: 0; position: absolute; width: 100%;" width="640">A couple of years ago, I really wanted the Phillies to take Nola at seven. This is the guy I want to take at 8.[...]

Hiring Bob McClure was Ruben Amaro's worst decision as general manager


I've never understood why the Philadelphia Phillies have hired Bob McClure and I find it completely unfathomable why he's still employed by the franchise.Track recordBob McClure was the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox. He was fired by each organization. Let's break down how the pitching staffs performed under McClure. To set the scenes, the Royals hired McClure in the midst of their two decade long stretch of mediocrity while the Red Sox hired him four years after they won the World Series. The 2011 Red Sox finished ninth in ERA, third in hits allowed, eighth in home runs and 12th in walks. Kansas City Royals2006ERA: LastHits allowed: 14Walks allowed: 14Home runs allowed: 13Strikeouts: 14All Stars: Mark Redman (Had a 5.71 ERA), a veteran trade acquisition2007ERA: 7Hits allowed:  11Walks allowed: 7Home runs allowed: 10Strikeouts: 13All Star: Gil Meche, a free agent signee2008ERA: 10Hits allowed: 7  Walks allowed: 7Home runs allowed: 6Strikeouts: 7All Star: 02009ERA: 12Hits allowed:  7Walks allowed: 14Home runs allowed: 2Strikeouts: 4All Star: Zach Grienke2010ERA: 14Hits allowed:  14Walks allowed: 10Home runs allowed: 12Strikeouts: 11All Star: 02011ERA: 12Hits allowed:  12Walks allowed: 14Home runs allowed: 11Strikeouts: 10All Star: 0Boston Red Sox2012ERA: 12Hits allowed:  11Walks allowed: 11Home runs allowed: 11Strikeouts: 8All Star:  0Just look at those rankings. What might be the most damning is what happened after he left each franchise. The Royals improved slightly in 2012 and, after adding James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie, became World Series contenders.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox won the World Series on the strength of their pitching staff the next season. The lone bright spot on McClure's tenure is Zack Grienke's Cy Young Season in KC. But that goes up against Greg Holland, Andrew Miller, Mark Melancon, who pitched better after leaving his tutelage and highly touted prospects such as Luke Hochevar who never developed under him.A bad fit with the PhilliesUnder Andy MacPhail and Matt Klentak, the Phillies have stated that their goal is to grow arms. Is there any proof that McClure can develop a pitcher? His track record in Kansas City and Boston say not likely.His record in Philly reinforces that belief. The Phillies have several well regarded pitching prospects. Aaron Nola was the seventh overall pick. He was a top 40 prospect. Vincent Velasquez was a top 60 prospect. One could argue Jerad Eickhoff has pitched well under McClure's charge, but he's clearly taken a step back this year from last year.The pitching staff has not put up worthwhile numbers at all under McClure's watch.2014ERA: 12Hits allowed:  11Walks allowed: 14Home runs allowed: 9Strikeouts: 9All Star:  02015ERA: 14Hits allowed:  15Walks allowed: 8Home runs allowed: 15Strikeouts: 12All Star:  02016ERA: 12Hits allowed:  11Walks allowed: 4Home runs allowed: 14Strikeouts: 8All Star:  02017ERA: 14Hits allowed:  9Walks allowed: 3Home runs allowed: 15Strikeouts: 14All Star:  0The problems with this pitching staff are myriad. They can't put people away with two strikes. Because of that, the starters don't go deep into games. They give up a ton of home runs. The bullpen, despite having five arms - Pat Neshak, Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, Jeanmar Gomez- with strong track records, is in absolute disarray. I'd argue a lot of this comes down to planning. It's not one pitcher who doesn't have a good two-strike approach. It's everyone. That means there's no game plan. McClure publicly took Cameron Rupp to task the other day, but if Rupp doesn't have a good philosophy, that also means there's a breakdown in planning. The team isn't just being beaten badly, i[...]

Phillies are Garbage


The Phillies are garbage. The rebuild is bullshit. Klentak and Co. are morons. Mackanin is a leader of losers. This is the worst they've been in my lifetime, hell, possibly my father's lifetime. I am not a fan of "booing", but dammit they deserve a heaping helping of it. See for yourself, they are literal trash...

Phillies Keep Losing


Since the Phillies keep losing, currently on pace to lose 106 games this season, I figured I'd search for a Phillies related image that brought me a sense of joy. Here you go, may it ease your tortured Phan heart as well.

Eff This


Worst team in baseball...

Still Sad


Last 21 games for the Philadelphia Phillies has resulted in a 4-17 record. They suck.

Continued Sadness


Remember when the Phillies had that 6 game winning streak? Yeah, me too, barely. The date was April 28th and the Phils were 11-9 and heading to the West Coast to take on the Dodgers. They lost that evening and have been losing on the regular ever since. They have 3 wins over the last 16 games and have fallen to the 3rd worst record in baseball and are tied for the fewest wins in MLB. The sadness continues...

Sad Post



Two-strike home runs are killing the Phillies


The Phillies have given up an absurd amount of home runs. The team has given up 48 home runs in just 30 games. That puts them on a pace for 259, which would break the record 258 allowed by the 2016 Cincinnati Reds.
The scary thing is the number of two-strike home runs the team has allowed. Let's take a look. Here are the pitchers who have been hit by two-strike home runs.

Vincent Velasquez: 4
Jeremy Hellickson: 3
Adam Morgan: 3
Nick Pivetta: 2
Joely Rodriguez: 2
Zach Eflin: 1
Aaron Nola: 1
Hector Neris: 1
Joaquin Benoit: 1
Clay Buchholtz: 1

That's 19 2-strike home runs. To put that in perspective the Kansas City Royals have given up 27 home runs total all season. The Cleveland Indians have given up just 28 home runs in 2017. Let that sink in. The Phillies have given up a two-strike homer in two out of every three games.

That's madness.

What causes it? I'm not sure. Three parties deserve some part of the blame: the pitchers who aren't executing, the catchers who are calling the two-strike pitches, the pitching coach who sets the game plan.

It's still a small sample size, but Velasquez gave up seven two-strike home runs last season (24 starts) and four in six starts this year. Hellickson gave up 10 two-strike home runs in 32 starts in 2016 compared to three in seven this year.

What's interesting is, to a large extent, the cast involved is the same. It's the same pitchers, the same starting catcher, the same pitching coach.

I'd guess something is wrong in the game plan that is leading to bad pitch calling.

From 6 Game Winning Streak to Complete Crap in One Week


The Phillies set off to the Left Coast last week to start a 7 game road trip against the Dodgers and Cubs. They were riding high on a 6 game winning streak and looking to make a statement against formidable opponents. They were slayed. The Dodgers ended the winning streak last Friday and then a comedy of errors played out over the course of the following week. They have won one game over the past week, having gone a dismal 1-7 over that span. Relief pitching continues to plague this team. Lack of production from the corner infielders has also been a problem. This might just be a tough stretch, but closing out this series against the Nationals with two victories would certainly help boost spirits.

Release This Pitcher


The name of this blog is We Should Be GMs, so playing that role is the name of the game here. As a GM, one should always be evaluating their team and looking to make improvements wherever possible. Today I provide the reader with an exercise in roster management.

I present Exhibit A:
39 G, 36.1 IP, 8.67 ERA, 1.95 WHIP, and 7 HR allowed since All-Star break 2016.

This pitcher is not a prospect. This pitcher is not locked into a multi-year multi-million dollar contract. This pitcher owns a 0.3 WAR over 8 MLB seasons. 

What do you do with Exhibit A?

Peace out Jeanmar Gomez. Thanks for half a season of excellence followed by endless frustration.

I Hate the 9th Inning


Relief - a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.

The 9th inning is a problem for the Phillies. A wasteland where seemingly quality relief pitchers go to die. If a loss is Hell then the 9th inning is the River Styx for the Phils.

Jeanmar Gomez began the season as closer and failed. Next in line was Joaquin Benoit, who also failed. Now Hector Neris. Once again, FAIL.

Collectively the Phillies bullpen has been the worst in the 9th inning onward this season, owning an 8.38 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP due to 9 homeruns allowed and a .321 average and 1.054 OPS against. Is the opposition batting Mike Trout, Eric Thames, and Ryan Zimmerman against them?!

This 2017 Phillies team is flawed and I don't have illusions of contention. However, any team, rebuilding or playoff bound, cannot continue to endure such suffering.

Maybe Mackanin should throw Mark Leiter Jr. into the fire. Couldn't do much worse...

Series Preview: Phillies start critical road trip in Los Angeles


This might be the most important road trip the Phillies have taken since they traveled to St. Louis during the 2011 NLDS. Having started the season 11-9 and rolling into the trek on a six-game winning streak, the squad will battle two expected World Series contenders, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the reigning champion Chicago Cubs.
Coming home from the seven-game trip with three, four or five wins would be a huge boost for the young squad.
But it's not just the games on the field that will matter.
During the road trip, the Phillies will also find out how healthy Aaron Nola is. It's hard to expect the Phillies to have a strong season if Nola, who went on the new 10-day disabled list earlier this week, spends much time on the disabled list.
Luckily for the Phillies, the trip to the DL was only a precaution. Nola's back was bothering him; it wasn't the elbow that caused him to miss the final two months of last season forcing him to the DL this time around.
If Nola doesn't pitch during the road trip, the Phillies might be in trouble. As it stands, he's tentatively expected to start on May 1, the first game against the Cubs.


Friday April 28, 10:10 p.m.: Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.55) vs. Kenta Maeda (1-2, 8.05)

Saturday, April 29, 9:10 p.m.: Zach Eflin (0-0, 2.25) vs. TBD

Sunday, April 30, 3:05 p.m.: Nick Pivetta (0-0, -.--) vs. TBD

What to know about the Los Angeles Dodgers

Opening the season at 10-12, Dave Roberts' club is struggling as it works toward a fifth straight division title. The Dodgers have started the season in an extremely pedestrian manner. They're 10th in the league in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, eighth in slugging, 11th in home runs and eighth in stolen bases. The pitching staff, however, is first in the NL in ERA.

What to look for

Since we don't know who the Phillies will be facing, it's tough to predict what might happen during the series. We do know, however, that the offense is clicking right now. Cesar Hernandez, Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera are hitting well. Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders are starting to heat up as well.

If the offense keeps up its pace, the Phillies could take a couple games from the Dodgers as they start this road trip.

Let's Go Ranking


Our beloved Philadelphia Phillies are playing .500 baseball (9-9) and there are definitely some things to like through the first 18 games of the season. I don't want to be too optimistic though, as the bullpen has been garbage thus far, and the corner infielders aren't hitting. Also,  Kendrick is likely on the DL through mid-May and Nola was just disabled today. However, others are thriving and carrying the load. So, let's take a look at the Phils MLB ranks in major offensive and pitching categories.
Runs - 85 (tied for 12th)
Average - .250 (11th)
On Base % - .324 (13th)
Slugging % - .416 (11th)
OPS - .730 (15th)
Doubles - 35 (tied for 7th)
Triples - 5 (tied for 3rd)
Homeruns - 19 (tied for 19th)
Stolen Bases - 10 (tied for 11th)
Walks - 54 (23rd)
Strikeouts - 164 (24th)

ERA - 4.26 (25th)
WHIP - 1.26 (17th)
Strikeouts - 143 (tied for 19th)
Quality Starts - 8 (tied for 18th)
K:BB - 2.51 (17th)
Starter's ERA - 4.09 (19th)
Bullpen ERA - 4.52 (22nd)
Run Differential - +7 (tied for 12th)

16 games in, what have we learned?


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="480"> One tenth of the season is in the books. So what have we learned about the 2017 Phillies?They sit at 7-9, in fourth place in the National League East. The offense is sixth, sixth, fourth and seventh in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. The pitching staff is 15th in ERA, 14th in home runs, 13th in strikeouts and 5th in walks.So the Phillies are a mediocre team that will win 70-75 games, right.Well, maybe not.Let's take a look. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="480">Are the Phillies better than their record?The Phillies are plus-3 in run differential. Now, you could argue that is thanks to a 17-3 whooping of the Washington Nationals. But don't forget the Phillies got thumped by the Mets 14-4 in a different game. Take away those games and the Phillies are at 0 in the plus-minus, which would theoretically put them at 8-8.Two other things impact the Phillies record. First, they've played two of the expected best teams in the league in all but three of their games so far. They've gone 5-7 in those games. The Phillies' early season schedule has them playing a ton of games against the Nationals (12), Mets (6), Cubs (4), Dodgers (3) and Rangers (3) in their first 42 games. That's 28 games against expected World Series contenders. They also play 3 games each against the Mariners and Pirates during that stretch. I said at the beginning of the year that the Phillies could start the season 16-26 and still end up being a good team. Opening the stretch with a 7-9 mark is a good beginning.Second, the Phillies biggest weakness so far is the bullpen; it won't end up a weakness. Adam Morgan and Jeanmar Gomez have double-digit ERAs while Joely Rodriguez has an ERA above 6. Morgan has already been sent down. Sure, Gomez might not end up in the closer's role again, but he had a 3.59 ERA, 3.84 FIP and 1.324 WHIP from 2013-2016. That's too long a record of success for him to not rebound. The bullpen should also get some help as the starters start pitching deeper into games. In the squad's first 16 games, starters have pitched seven or more innings three times and pitched five or fewer innings seven times. That has to change. If the starters aren't more reliable going deeper into games, then they will be replaced by guys who can.How have injuries affected the team?Injuries affect every team. The Phillies have had two main injuries so far this season. First, Clay Buchholtz was likely lost to the season. Second, Howie Kendrick, who started the season on fire, injured his core. He should recover. The Phillies also saw one of their pitching prospects, Zach Eflin, start the season recovering from an injury. He's already joined the big league club and contributing.What's to like?How about the Cesar Hernandez? He's picking up right where he left off last year. He's hitting .324 with a .358 OBP. Amazingly, he's got three home runs and three stolen bases in four attempts. But he's also struck out 21 times. Jeremy Hellickson looks really good, too. He's got an ERA below 2. He's barely walking anyone and he's really keeping batters off balance.Hector Neris has been filthy.Aaron Nola is healthy and has 15 strikeouts against six walks in 16 innings.Jerad Eickhoff continues to be reliable.Aaron Altherr is tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .360/.407/.600.What's not to like?The Bullpen has been mo[...]

Hellickson Good, 9th Inning Woes, Unheralded Prospects, Improved Offense, The Howard & Run Support


*Jeremy Hellickson has the best WHIP (0.71) in the NL, albeit through merely 4 starts. However, this is on the heels of a strong 2016 campaign, so he's lining himself up as a sought after trade chip. Of course, he could potentially stay with the Phillies, as a mid-season extension could be a viable option.
*The 9th inning onward has been a disaster for the Phillies so far, no matter who is handed the ball. In 13.2 innings they've allowed 5 homeruns to go along with a ghastly 7.24 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, an .892 OPS against.

*Andrew Pullin is a bit of a forgotten man in terms of outfield prospects, but since being promoted to Double-A Reading last season he's laid waste to poor defenseless pitchers. In 59 games, he's hit .344/.967, with 38 R, 16 DBL, 13 HR, and 39 RBI. Double-A is where Dylan Cozens put his name on the map, so perhaps the same will ring true for Pullin.

*Cole Irvin was the Phils 5th round draft pick last year and he's making good on their trust. Through his first 13 G, 10 of them starts, he has a 7-2 record over 65.2 innings with a 1.64 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 54 strikeouts. Currently in Clearwater, he has the potential to move through the system quickly. A mid-season promotion to Reading is likely in my opinion.

*The Phillies offense has been improved overall since last season, especially considering many players still haven't found their stride (Franco, Galvis, Rupp, Joseph, Saunders). They lead MLB in pitches seen per plate appearances and are middle of the pack in runs, batting average, and OPS. Once the pitching sorts itself out, this team should be able to contend on the daily basis.
*Once again, WSBGMs is tracking The Howard (homerun, strikeout, and error by the same player in one ball game). Tampa Bay Rays' third baseman, Evan Longoria, has moved atop the leader board after committing his 2nd Howard of the seasons yesterday. Congrats! For reference, The Howard is on the right sidebar of the blog.

*Now, time to give Jerad Eickhoff some freakin' run support!

Aaron Nola Watch: Episode 2


Aaron Nola's second start built off of his first. He pitched just five innings, but he looked very strong. The right-hander scattered six hits and no walks against six strikeouts. He's building up a strong base for the season.Let's break down his last start and his season so far.Goal No. 1: HealthNola left his second start without an injury scare. So we're starting off nicely there. While he did only pitch five innings, he tossed 90 pitches. His arm is getting stretched out. Grade: ACommandIn his first start, Nola threw first pitch strikes on 13 of 24 batters he faced. He did slightly better this week, getting first pitch strikes on 12 of 21 batters. Overall, he threw strikes on 61 of his 90 pitches. That's pretty nice. He didn't walk anyone. So his control was close to pristine.Grade: A-ResultsNola didn't get a quality start because he didn't make it through the sixth, but he pitched strongly against a good lineup. You can't take this start for granted. Nola has to have some confidence as he goes into tonight's start against the New York Mets.[...]

Tuesday Tee-Up


As I type this, Tommy Joseph pops up to the 3rd baseman. He's been woeful so far this season. Small sample size, but whatever, I wanna see some good results.

Before that crap at-bat by Joseph, Odubel went deep for his first HR of the season. Woo hoo!

Alright, onto business.
*Howie Kendrick, one of the guys actually contributing at the plate, has hit the DL. In his place the Phils have called up Mark Leiter Jr., who is not an outfielder, nor even a position player. He's a relief pitcher that'll hopefully show his mettle and remain in the bullpen. He's capable of going multiple innings, as he's started 69 of his 95 minor league appearances. Minor league numbers - 445.1 IP, 417 K, 3.38 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP. WSBGMs wishes good luck to the 26 year old right-hander.

*Remember Alec Asher? Klentak traded him to the O's at the end of Spring Training and the player to be named later remains nameless. Asher sucked, like really bad, like extremely bad, in his MLB debut season of 2015. However, he bounced back in 5 starts last year and turned in a nifty 2.28 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. Hey, guess what, he made his debut with Baltimore over the weekend and went 6.1 innings, allowing only 1 run and 4 base runners. That would look good in the Phillies rotation, wouldn't it?!

*Speaking of the Phillies rotation, Clay Buchholz underwent surgery today by the famed Dr. Andrews and is out for the next 4-6 months. As you know, or should if you read regularly, I didn't see a purpose in trading for Buchholz. He was kinda terrible last year with the BoSox and cost them a fringe prospect and $13.5M in contract obligations. Now he's likely out for the year. If Klentak truly wanted another veteran in the rotation to absorb innings and be a potential trade chip come July, he could have went another route - see contracts signed by Bartolo Colon, RA Dickey, Scott Feldman, Derek Holland, Jered Weaver, Clayton Richard, or Brett Anderson. Just sayin'. Or he could have let one of the bountiful prospects toe the rubber every 5th day. Just sayin'.

*Zach Eflin's 2017 Phillies debut is not going well. Jitters? Hopefully...

Monday Morning Musings


Phillies relief pitchers have surrendered 13 homeruns. That's 3 more than the next closest team (Nationals).

Phillies bullpen ERA is 5.62, which ranks 24th in MLB. That is not improved from 2016. Trust the process though, right?

Phillies starting pitchers have a 4.50 ERA, which ranks 25 in MLB. What's that company line again? Oh yeah, "trust the process". Ahem, bullshit. Sorry, had something in my throat.

I'm tired on Maikel Franco's pull happy, swinging from the heels approach at the plate. It's as if I'm watching the right-handed version of Ryan Howard.

Cesar Hernandez, Howie Kendrick, Odubel Herrera, and Daniel Nava are the only Phillies doing anything worth a damn at the plate. Corner infielders need to get straightened out and start contributing.

I don't hate that Joaquin Benoit was moved into the closer's role following Jeanmar Gomez's debacle, but how long is Mackanin going to try avoiding the unavoidable and finally give his blessing to Hector Neris?

Zach Eflin gets first dibs as Buchholz spot in the rotation. Godspeed.