Phillies Option Nick Pivetta In Smart Piece of Roster Management

Today vs the Padres Nick Pivetta struck out 11 Padres in 5+ innings. It wasn’t the sharpest day ever as he walked 3 and let the Padres steal all of the bases. It was still an encouraging start for a rotation that has not been sharp of late. But this happened.

On the surface this is odd as the Phillies cannot recall an optioned player for 10 days unless it is to replace an injured player, but it is actually a sneaky little bit of roster manipulation. Nick Pivetta’s next start would be scheduled for Tuesday August 22nd. The Phillies have a double header vs the Marlins on Tuesday August 22nd. They also have an off day on Monday August 21. That means Thursday’s starter Aaron Nola can pitch a game of the double header. More important than that is that the Phillies can call up a 26th man for one game of the double header. That player is not subject to the 10 day restriction. This means the Phillies can recall Pivetta on Tuesday to make his normal start. In the mean time they would get another bullpen arm for the Giants series over the weekend (or another bat with Odubel ailing).

The Phillies still have a problem on August 26th vs the Cubs, but they could call someone up and then resolve all the 10 day restrictions on September 1 when the rosters expand.

Phillies Are Having Second Half Pitching Problems

Young pitching was supposed to be a strength of the Phillies this season, but as we all know, pitching can be unpredictable. As of right now, the Phillies have a team ERA of 4.56 on the season, which is good for 20th in baseball. On a more granular basis, their starters are actually 17th in baseball, and their relievers are 23rd. The reasons for these declines are many and include injuries, trades, and just being bad. However, baseball does not accept excuses in place of starts, so the Phillies still have to figure out a pitching staff to get through the end of the season. So how do you do that when you don’t have any veterans and you aren’t very good?

The one pitcher in all of this that the Phillies don’t have to worry about is Aaron Nola. In the second half he has a 1.85 ERA, and in 10 starts since allowing 5 runs to Arizona on June 16, he has a 1.71 ERA over 68.1 innings.

The other pitcher who has rejoined that category is Jerad Eickhoff. He hasn’t been as dominant as Nola, but in his 7 starts since returning from the DL, he has a 3.18 ERA over 39.2 innings. He is no longer hemorrhaging home runs, and his strikeout rate is back up as well. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 32: The Infield of the Future and Boozin’ With Phillies

I would like to start this Crash Bag off by revisiting my well-thought-out, certainly-not-off-the-cuff Bobble-WorthinessTM rankings from a few Crash Bags ago. With Odubel Herrera’s recent sizzlin’ hot streak, he’s on pace for nearly four wins this season. By my criteria from that post, Herrera is on pace to be legitimately Bobble-WorthyTM next season. PUT IT ON THE SCHEDULE, PHILLIES.

Stay tuned for more hard-hitting bobblehead analysis.

Continue reading…

Phillies Call Up Rhys Hoskins

Earlier this week the Phillies announced they were moving their best pure hitting prospect from first base to left field to accommodate Tommy Joseph staying at first base. I have a lot of thoughts about what the move means strategically, but what is done is done. What that move does mean is that the Phillies are finally promoting Rhys Hoskins, just as an outfielder and not a first baseman. For the second year in a row Hoskins is one of the best hitters in minor league baseball, and this time he is doing it in a more neutral environment as opposed to the hitting paradise that is Reading.

Without talking about position or league context, we need to talk about Hoskins the baseball player. At the plate Hoskins features a simple swing, he has a bit of a leg kick, but overall is swing is quiet. He gets good loft with it, but it also isn’t a complete uppercut. Most of his contact is going to be to the pull side, but he does have the power to go the opposite way. When he first came up there were a lot of questions about his raw power, and they are mostly fair as his power is probably plus, maybe it is plus plus. What he has done incredibly well over the years is to refine his approach and pitch recognition. This has allowed him to get the most out of his raw tools, and so while his raw power doesn’t measure up to Dylan Cozens, he is able to match him in actualized production. Hoskins is mostly a fastball hitter, but he will crush mistakes over the plate. He has less frequently expanded the strike zone in the upper levels, but can still chase breaking balls. The complete package is one fairly light on weaknesses. This season he has reverse platoon splits, but only 123 PAs against LHPs so it is hard to read too much into his relative struggles vs them, given that he crushed them in 2016. This year he has walked more than he has struck out vs RHPs which is a stark improvement on last season where he had a 50 to 97 walk to strikeout rate vs same side pitching. Overall he should be an average hitter (.260-.270) with a good on base percentage, and he has the power to hit 30+ home runs a year with an equal amount of doubles. He might have a bit more ceiling than that if he can maintain his AAA strikeout rate, but I would expect it to regress back towards 20% from the 15.8% it is at right now. Continue reading…

A 30 Game Nick Williams Check Up

On June 30th the Phillies finally called up a major hitting prospect. Since then, Nick Williams has hit .289/.325/.535 in the majors with 5 home runs in his 30 games. Williams’ arrival in the majors coincided with an improvement in the Phillies offense (it turns out everyone in the lineup was better in July). With Aaron Altherr’s repeated injuries, Williams looks to have a hold on an outfield spot for the rest of the season. So now 30 games into his season, how is Nick Williams holding up? Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 31: Looking Back 3 Years

The trade deadline is over, and the Phillies traded nearly everyone they could and got some stuff back. The team is still bad, and a sweep at the hands of the Angels reinforced that the bullpen is a major problem and the starting pitching is shaky on days when Aaron Nola doesn’t pitch. But, let’s just forget about all of that and take a step back in time to talk about some prospects and some of your other questions this week.

@PaulSocolar: Your 2014 prspct list led w Crawford-Nola-Franco; top 10 also had Biddle-Sandberg-Dugan. Where would those 3s 2014 selves be on current list

I am just going to go for the whole list and not just the groupings of 3. For those that want to read 3 year old wrong opinions, here is the link, but for those with less time, here is my 2014 midseason top 10 (which I have no clue why I wrote it on June 24).

  1. J.P. Crawford
  2. Aaron Nola
  3. Maikel Franco
  4. Roman Quinn
  5. Jesse Biddle
  6. Deivi Grullon
  7. Cord Sandberg
  8. Carlos Tocci
  9. Kelly Dugan
  10. Aaron Altherr

Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 30: The Next Great Phillies Team

Late last week, there was word from the front office that the Crash Bag was involved in a potential trade, and so it was pulled from its regularly scheduled appearance on Friday. But the buyers backed out at the last minute to pursue a less costly upgrade. Consider this post safe for now. Although there are still a few hours before the deadline.

joelrineer: If you had to pick 3 of Altherr, Herrera, Quinn, Williams, Cozens, Tocci, Randolph, Moniak, Haseley who would you take and why?

I take the two birds in hand. Herrera and Altherr are both good players, and it would not shock me to see either post a 5+ WAR season at some point in the future. The Phillies need good position player talent and these two fit that description. It would take a clear cut superstar to supplant either one and I don’t see that among the rest of the players listed.

As to those players and the coveted third spot, here is what we are considering.

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Crash Bag Vol. 29: Looking to the Future, Because the Present Sucks

First of all, thanks everyone for helping us keep the lights on here. Writing for Crashburn Alley has been amazing, and thanks to you wonderful readers, I get to keep doing it. It really warms the cockles of my cold sabermetric heart to see such a robust and immediate response to our pleas.  You guys and gals are awesome.

Most of the questions this week focused on the Phillies future. 2019 records and 2020 starters; trades and prospects. The present is bleak, but there’s nowhere to go but up.

@TylerSmithEtown: What will the Phillies win differential be from the 2017 season to the 2019 season?

This is really two separate questions with a simple math step at the end. I’ll start with the 2017 team. Continue reading…

Bad Luck Continues, Aaron Altherr Out For Longer

I feel like I keep repeating this, but the 2017 Phillies are a bad baseball team, but they also are a really unlucky one. Before the weekend, they were poised to have Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, and Cesar Hernandez healthy, and have Howie Kendrick out on a rehab assignment. Then Aaron Altherr hurt his hamstring, and today Matt Gelb rained on the parade some more by reporting that the injury was more serious than initially diagnosed and that Altherr would be out for 3-4 weeks. The injury robs the Phillies of one of their best bats and ruins the Williams-Herrera-Altherr outfield that gave fans a reason to watch every night. With the Phillies now down another bat, it was natural to turn to farm to look for another prospect to come join the Phillies. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 28: The Mighty Contract Of Giancarlo Stanton

The Phillies have not lost a baseball game in almost a week. It’s a good time to be a fan.

@MisterZoomer: I still have faith in Franco being at least league average at 3B. Am I delusional? At what point do I accept this is what he is?

Let’s walk backwards in the Maikel Franco timeline.

The 2017 disaster is about the ground ball. Franco has a .132 average on ground balls this year, and he hits too many for a player of his skill set. No slow-footed hitter is going to excel by killing worms. But there is a large dose of bad luck in this number. The league as a whole has a .249 average (.256 for right-handed batters) on ground balls spanning the last three years. And here are the career marks of some other locomotively-challenged hitters from the right side.

Continue reading…