Jayson Werth‘s three-run home run in the first inning off of Kyle Kendrick in Sunday’s first-half finale was about the most predictable thing that could have happened. Kendrick entered the game having allowed 21 earned runs in 18 first innings. At the end of the first ion Sunday, his opening frame ERA was an ugly 11.37. Kendrick blanked the Nationals over the next four innings, then allowed one more run in the sixth before leaving with two outs. Mario Hollands later allowed one of Kendrick’s inherited runners to score, giving Kendrick a line of five earned runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings.
Former Phillie Randy Wolf opted out of his minor league contract with the Orioles on Sunday and will be looking to join his fifth different organization this season in an attempt to prolong his playing career. Wolf made a handful of appearances for the Marlins, his first stint back in the majors since 2012, earlier in the season without much success.
With the All-Star break just three days away, the Phillies decided to add an extra outfielder to the roster. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that Grady Sizemore has been called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies signed Sizemore to a minor league deal back on June 24 after he was let go by the Boston Red Sox.
To make room for Sizemore on the roster, the Phillies made a pair of procedural moves, which you shouldn’t read anything into:
The 2014 Phillies season is a barren wasteland in which Phillies fans have mercifully been given a beautiful oasis named Kenny Giles. As he rose through the Phillies minor league system, Giles was noted for his plus-plus fastball velocity and he has not disappointed. Obsessive radar gun watching in anticipation of triple digits is a must during Giles’ appearances but not only has he delivered on the promise of his fastball, he’s given a surprise gift to Phillies fans in the form of a wipeout slider. There was some buzz that Giles had a secondary pitch with potential, but the slider he brought with him to the Major Leagues is no development project — the purported potential has been actualized in a pitch that makes opposing hitters flail with utter abandon.
Outside of surrendering a home run to the first batter he faced, Giles couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the majors. Through 12.2 innings, he’s sporting a 0.71 ERA with 17 K’s and making the best hitters on the planet look positively foolish with his two pitch arsenal. According to Brooks Baseball, he’s cracked 100 MPH with his fastball in four of his twelve appearances. But the slider, oh, the slider. Since his call up, he’s induced 39 swings on the 77 sliders he’s thrown. Of those 39 swings, 21 (53.9%) have been whiffs. Fooling Major League hitters that badly is a phenomenal feat; it’s also one that’s unlikely to last.
Billy Beane‘s somewhat shocking, all-in trade of Addison Russell, Dan Straily, and Billy McKinney to Chicago for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel last week signals the official start of trading season. Oakland has made a deal, similar to Milwaukee’s CC Sabathia trade in 2008, that includes an extra month to use its new players and build a lead for the stretch run. The deal also takes away valuable assets from other teams that are likely to make trades for starting pitching and other useful parts. The Phillies should exploit that competition as much as possible, as soon as possible, to both control the market (instead of waiting for it), and to give their trade partners more value.
@rarmstrong7777: “is there a manager equivalent to WAR? Could there be if there isn’t?”
There isn’t, and there probably can’t be. The manager’s job is done largely at the margins and behind the scenes, so it’s hard to tell if, for instance, Joe Maddon bringing snakes into the clubhouse has an effect on his team’s performance. Anyone who’s ever had a job knows how much better life is when you have a boss you like and respect, so I don’t doubt that there’s an intangible benefit to having a good manager. How much of a benefit is a harder question to answer. I’ve heard it said that three-time Cy Young winner and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer wouldn’t have stuck in the majors if not for the influence of Earl Weaver. So it’s possible that Earl Weaver was worth 68 WAR to the Orioles just because he mentored Palmer. Or that could be bullshit.
Early in the season, I wrote several blog posts discussing Jonathan Papelbon‘s waning velocity and tumbling strikeout rate, but all the right-hander has done over the first half of the season is pitch lights out. Despite missing out on a nomination to the National League All-Star team, Papelbon has been among the game’s best closers. Following last night’s save, a 1-2-3 inning against the Milwaukee Brewers, Papelbon is now 21-for-23 in save opportunities with a 1.27 ERA.
When the Phillies lost the final two games of a three-game set in Cincinnati and returned home on June 10, Ben Revere was not well-liked among Phillies fans. He was hitting a meager .282 and had made a number of poor defensive plays in center field, leading to the pitching staff giving up unnecessary amounts of runs en route to losses in otherwise winnable games. He hit his first career home run back on May 27, leading to some amusement, but he carried a .631 OPS when the Padres came into Philadelphia. Hardly the performance that makes one think “cornerstone of the franchise”.
If there was any doubt that the Phillies were out of contention before embarking on a ten-game road trip, it has been erased as the Phillies dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami and were just swept out of Pittsburgh by the Pirates. Since sweeping the Braves in Atlanta and taking the first two games of a four-game set against the Cardinals in St. Louis, the Phillies have lost 13 out of their last 16 games.
The culprit? An anemic offense. Here are some fun facts about their 3-13 skid:
The All-Star rosters were unveiled this evening on ESPN. The 37-51 Phillies will have only one representative at the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field in Minnesota: second baseman Chase Utley, who will start for the National League.