Zach Eflin has Changed His Profile

The Phillies best starting pitcher over the past month has been Zach Eflin. This is not the first time Eflin has gone on a dominant run, but he is doing something much different this time, actually striking batters out. Now Eflin has always had pedigree, he was a former 1st round pick traded in a high profile trade, and always rated fairly well as a prospect. He was supposed to have a good changeup, and always showed solid control. Eflin flopped in his first trip to the majors after a hot start, and had offseason knee surgery. He came back with increased velocity in 2017, but still struggled because he had no ways to miss bats. Continue reading…

Phillies Using 40 Man Roster As Bullpen

The Phillies’ 40 man roster is full of pitchers, a fact that becomes very clear they have any hitting injuries. Some of the pitchers on the 40 man roster (Drew Anderson, Franklyn Kilome, Jose Taveras, and Ranger Suarez) are prospects in development, and others like Ben Lively are rotation depth. The rest of the roster is relievers stuck in the process of trying to be major leaguers. In this era of baseball teams have used those pitchers as a taxi squad of sorts. The Phillies to open the year mostly stuck with their opening bullpen, only making changes when injuries demanded it. In the past week they have made the following moves.

  • RHP Luis Garcia to 10 day DL
  • Mark Leiter Jr to AAA
  • Jake Thompson to MLB
  • Yacksel Rios to MLB
  • Hector Neris to AAA
  • Austin Davis to MLB
  • Jake Thompson to AAA
  • Zac Curtis to MLB

Continue reading…

Phillies Sign Alec Bohm and Many Others

With the current era of draft slots, the odds of a team taking a player in the top 10 rounds of the draft without signing them is extremely low. So it is not surprising that at just about a week after the draft the Phillies were able to lock up #3 overall pick Alec Bohm to a deal (as well as 19 other draftees). It is also not surprising that that the Phillies signed 6th round pick Logan Simmons, nor will it be surprising when the Phillies officially sign 9th round Dominic Pipkin. The real question was after the Phillies took Pipkin in the 9th round, how much money would they have to spend on later picks. After the Phillies took Stetson RHP Jack Perkins in the 11th it seemed they may have been out of money after likely having to give overslot bonuses to Pipkin and Simmons. Continue reading…

The Kingery Shortstop Dilemma

Last week Matt Gelb wrote about the difficulty the Phillies are facing with trying to compete and trying to develop their young players. There is no player at the center of this more than Scott Kingery. Coming into the year, Kingery didn’t look entirely major league ready. He was coming off a strong spring, but his AAA numbers were not great, especially with regard to his approach at the plate. Despite this, the Phillies saw enough upside to sign him a large contract and send him right to the majors.

The problem was and has been that Scott Kingery is a second baseman and the Phillies already have a solid second baseman. The Phillies have tried to deal with this by shoehorning Kingery in at other positions. Kingery can play a competent outfield, but outside of the Rhys Hoskins’ brief 10 day trip to the DL the Phillies have had 4 outfielders they all want to get playing time. That leaves shortstop and third base. At shortstop the Phillies have another top prospect in J.P. Crawford who is known for his glove, and at third they have a former top prospect in Maikel Franco who the Phillies would like to see improve. When Crawford was out with an arm injury, this all made some sense because the Phillies didn’t have another shortstop and it got Kingery’s bat in the lineup for development. Continue reading…

This One Is Going to Hurt, Hoskins’ Jaw Injury Force Cozens to the Majors

It didn’t take long for the buzz of an exciting call up for Mitch Walding to wear off. It appears that Rhys Hoskins was misdiagnosed when it looked like he had dodged major injury from a foul ball to the face, because instead of being day to day he has a fractured jaw and will be out for an unknown period of time. As I detailed yesterday, the Phillies don’t actually have a lot of options for position player call ups. So the Phillies are calling up the one guy I said was not ready in 2012 2nd round pick Dylan Cozens. Continue reading…

Pedro Florimon to the DL, Reportedly Mitch Walding to the Majors

The Phillies entered the 2018 season with a 40 man roster full of pitchers. On the surface it made a lot of sense. The team was going to run a 4 man bench, it was going to run a fairly stable lineup, and the major league team had enough positional flexibility to withstand minor injuries. Largely this year, that has held true, with the only 25 man roster injury being J.P. Crawford’s. In that instance the Phillies moved Kingery into his spot, Pedro Florimon into his spot, and promoted Jesmuel Valentin to sit in Pedro Florimon’s spot on the bench. Continue reading…

Nick Williams is Thriving as a Pinch Hitter and Showing Meaningful Growth at the Plate

With the signing of Carlos Santana the Phillies opened themselves up to a playing time crunch in right field. A big question entering the year was how the Phillies would split the playing time for Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams. Through 47 games, Williams has 19 starts and Altherr has 30. So far that split has not gone well for either, with Altherr batting .198/.333/.379 and Williams at .231/.307/.374. Both players have been streaky throughout their careers and it as seemed like the Phillies are half a step behind in dividing the playing time. Right now the Phillies are going with more of a 50/50 split to playing time as Williams has surged in May. Continue reading…

Crash Bag #7: What Are The Questions We Should Be Asking?

@JimClemmens: Why has everyone seemed to forget or ignore jesmuel valentin’s domestic violence history?

I appreciate you asking this question, it is an important question to ask. I think on a basic level not many people know about it. For those without context, in April 2015 Jesmuel Valentin was arrested for domestic battery in an incident involving his wife. He was suspended for much of the 2015 season and went to counseling, and the charges were dropped, but ultimately that means very little in our society in terms of whether something occurred. During the time he was suspended it was easy to treat him like he was not a member of the Phillies organization. Valentin’s lack of prominence in the Phillies’ system has allowed it to fade from public awareness, and unlike established major leaguers like Aroldis Chapman, Addison Russell, and others, we have not been directly confronted with whether we want him on our baseball team. We still struggle as a society to talk about domestic violence as well, with many of the institutional problems around it (such as a lack of official reports, dropped charges, and fear for the safety of the abused) leading to ambiguity in facts. This ambiguity leads to a place where teams and league have decided that the player can continue to play, and we as fans have no say in that matter. It is uncomfortable to write about Valentin and others, it is uncomfortable to root for him, and it is uncomfortable not knowing about the continued safety of the abused. There are no charges and no legal ramifications here, and we don’t know what transpired 3 years ago. Ultimately we are left having to move on with that sick fear in our gut. Moving forward, teams need to have support structures for victims of domestic abuse. Major league baseball needs stricter punishments against perpetrators of domestic abuse and teams that allow it to happen. Teams need to stop promoting policies, events, and individuals that build gender divides and glorify and perpetuate all forms of violence.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233). Continue reading…

Differences in Sustainability: The 2018 and 2016 Phillies

The 2018 Phillies are currently 24-16, they have the second best record in both the NL East and the NL in general. This isn’t the first time the Phillies have gotten off to a hot start in the rebuild era. Leaving the day on May 18, 2016 the Phillies were 24-17, with the second best record in the division and the third best record in the NL. We know how that story went with the Phillies ending up 71-91 or 47-74 after that hot start. They ended up at a -186 run differential, which had their Pythagorean record at 62-100, pointing to a team that could have been even worse. Now no one is really arguing that the 2016 and 2018 Phillies are in a similar spot or are similar teams at all, but by exploring the differences we can see how far the team has actually come.

The Run Differential

Run differential is a volatile statistic where one or two good or bad games can make a big swing, but it is useful on a larger scale. On May 18, 2016 the Phillies were at -28 on the year. That is bad, not mediocre, actually bad. At the time I argued the Phillies were sacrificing blowouts and winning close games, to that point 13 of their 24 wins had been by a single run. In contrast the 2018 Phillies currently stand at +42. That is 3rd in the NL behind the Braves and an under performing Cubs team. The 2018 Phillies have only won 6 1 run games, and have been convincingly beating teams when they get a lead. Continue reading…

With the Promotion of Seranthony Dominguez the Phillies Are Sticking to Preseason Clichés

This spring the Phillies ran out a PR campaign around Kapler’s focus on “Value at the Margins” and #BeBold. For the most part the Phillies have been a pretty conventional sabermetrically inclines org. That is bold for baseball in this town. Outside Kingery starting in the majors, there hasn’t been any big personnel shakeups this year, until yesterday.

Stuff wise Seranthony Dominguez entered the offseason as #2 only to Sixto Sanchez. The righty was sitting 94-98 as a starting pitcher and holding his velocity deep into games. His slider showed plus potential, and he flashed an above average to plus changeup. The big problem was that Dominguez was 23 and had never really been healthy through a full year. The Phillies broke with what was conventional wisdom and moved what might have been a #2 or #3 starting pitcher to the bullpen to fast track him. After he blitzed AA, they moved him to AAA for the last little bits of polishing. Continue reading…