Crashbag Vol. 35: The Rotation, Prospects, and Seasons

Lets jump right in.

@stee_jobs: what’s the 2018 starting rotation (include possible free agents)

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, the rotation is not exactly an area of strength heading into 2018. We know (barring injury) that Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez will be back. There had been some thought that Velasquez, after another inconsistent and injury-riddled season, would enter 2018 in the bullpen, but based on the Phillies public comments, they plan to give him another shot to stick in the rotation. We’ll assume that happens. If I’m the Phillies, I hope to sign or trade for a young controllable mid-rotation starter and let the dregs of the 2017 rotation compete for the fifth starter role. Let’s take a look at free agents who fit or exceed the “mid-rotation starter” mold. I’m assuming the Phillies won’t want anyone on the downside of their career, so I took out anyone over 32 years old. I’m using the list of 2017-2018 free agents on MLBTradeRumors, so if I missed anyone, it’s all their fault. Continue reading…

Encouraging Signs From the Phillies

As the 2017 season winds down, the Phillies still find themselves with the worst record in baseball, on pace for over 100 losses for the first time since 1961. However, the rookies are positively contributing, and the bullpen has righted the ship somewhat, and the team has posted a .465 winning percentage in the second half. I’m not sure how much I believe in season-to-season momentum, but at any rate, this has been an encouraging effort for the young Phillies. I’d like to run down a few important developments on the Phillies’ long march back to respectability. Continue reading…

Crashbag Vol. 34: Future Edition

This week I asked for questions during a Phillies game which meant everything was Phillies related, and much of it was not particularly deep, I just answered everything.

@andrewrinnier: What are realistic goals for the young guys down the stretch?

Just going to go quick bullet points on the major guys

  • Jerad Eickhoff – 6 innings each start, try to keep it under 4 runs
  • Ben Lively/Mark Leiter – Hold off regression while trying to find a sustainable pitch
  • Aaron Nola – Stay healthy
  • Nick Pivetta – 4-5 solid innings each start, it doesn’t matter if you implode in the 5th or 6th
  • Jorge Alfaro – Just 1 walk, maybe 2 walks?
  • Maikel Franco – Just show in one game that you learned something this year
  • Rhys Hoskins – Fight through the first slump when it hits
  • Nick Williams – Just keep up the approach gains
  • J.P. Crawford – Don’t force things in majors or minors
  • Scott Kingery – Try and bring the strikeouts under control and walk a bit more
  • Odubel Herrera – Have a solid end of year
  • Aaron Altherr – Get healthy, stay healthy
  • Andrew Knapp – Show enough defensive growth to have the Phillies trust you to be the opening day starter and pair with Alfaro next year

Continue reading…

Injuries Obscure Hope For the Phillies’ Hitting Future

The Phillies are the worst team in baseball by a full three games coming into Thursday game against the Marlins. There are many reasons they are bad, but one that has become painfully obvious is injuries. Injuries in the rotation have forced more and more marginal AAA starters into duty, and have consequently put more pressure on the bullpen (this is an entirely different post for another day). The other place where the injuries have really mounted is the lineup. Early in the year this was characterized by Howie Kendrick‘s constant injuries, but now the injury bug has moved into the younger players. Today the Phillies ran out this lineup:

Outside of the insanity that is Rhys Hoskins right now, it is not a good lineup. It also isn’t the Phillies’ best lineup, so let’s reconfigure things some. Continue reading…

Crashburn Roundtable: The Young Kids

I was out of town this weekend chasing the eclipse so we have an abbreviated Roundtable this week as it is just Adam and I weighing in on some kids with the major league team.

We are all now living in the age of Rhys Hoskins. What are your first impressions of the young slugger?

Adam: He’s ok, I guess. If you like home runs and walks and stuff. Of course, he’s only made 55 plate appearances so I’m not going to quote wRC+ or anything, but he’s hit for years and he hasn’t stopped. Hoskins seems to be a reliable source of middle-of-the-order production for the next several years. I like a first baseman with power and a decent glove who doesn’t hit too many grounders and doesn’t strike out too much. His peak probably won’t be as high as Ryan Howard‘s, but he also probably won’t completely fall off a cliff in his decline years.

Matt: I am impressed by how calm and simple everything is. His swing has so little wasted movement and it allows him to just punish all mistakes. He has also been patient enough to let those mistakes come to him and not swing at bad pitches in the zone. Obviously the home run numbers will come down, but he also is going have some doubles and singles fall, so the ISO will come down, but there is still a lot of room for batting average growth. I still don’t see a superstar here, but it obvious that the ability is there for him to be the Phillies #3 or #4 hitter for the foreseeable future. Continue reading…

Rios Up, Eflin Hurt, and Velasquez Done for the Year

Today the Phillies…

  • Transferred Vincent Velasquez to the 60 day DL
  • Placed Zach Eflin on the 10 Day DL retroactive to 8/19
  • Purchased the contract of Yacksel Rios
  • Recalled Nick Pivetta as the 26th man to start game 2 of the doubleheader

We knew the Nick Pivetta recall was coming and there was a good chance that Eflin going to the DL given the whispers after he left his last start. The Phillies have not yet given a prognosis on Eflin’s recovery. It leaves the Phillies down yet another starting pitcher. With the double header today, the Phillies need another starter anyway, so Mark Leiter Jr will take Eflin’s spot and Thompson will take the hole in the rotation caused by the double header.

To bring up Rios, the Phillies needed a 40 man spot, and so Vince Velasquez’s season comes to an end with this:

Continue reading…

Crashbag Vol. Something: Seems To Me We’ve Lost Count

Let’s start with one from in-house.


Maybe I could come up with something. Maybe. I’ll need to spin that “d” and cover over part of it to make an “F”, I think.


Damn, a baseball question? Ok, I guess. Cesar Hernandez sure did turn himself into a player, eh? I will admit I assumed he would never amount to more than a non-shortstop bench player, and those jobs are hard to find if you also lack any power, which I assumed he always would. But he’s racked up nearly 7 fWAR over the last two years, even with some missed time this season. His speed has still helped him plenty, even if he hasn’t been an overwhelming threat to steal – he’s 13/16 this year, much better than his 17/28 last year. He’s MLB Top Ten in infield hits and Fangraphs’ speed stat, and led the league in triples in 2016.

But what to do with another potential first-division starter in Scott Kingery waiting behind him? One of them will have to go, and I think it’s obvious that Cesar is the choice right now. His value this offseason, with 4 years of control remaining, will likely never be higher. I’m far from an expert on “what kind of return do you get from…”, but assume with all their high-minors talent, the Phils are looking for big leaguers to fill rotation spots or back-end bullpen roles, and/or minor leaguers who don’t need 40-man roster spots yet. However the second base market shakes out this offseason, Cesar is a mid-first division guy. That’s an upgrade for a lot of teams. Continue reading…

Dutch

Eleven days ago, the Philadelphia Phillies family lost #10. Not only was Darren Daulton the heart and soul of the unforgettable 1993 World Series run, he was probably the best catcher in Phillies franchise history. To commemorate and honor Dutch, I collaborated with fellow Crashburn old-timer Dave Tomar.

Your general impressions of Darren Daulton?

Dave: My impression of Darren Daulton is a function of my experience as a lifelong Phillies fan. I was born in early 1980, so I was a drooling blob when the team won its first World Series. I was there, so it’s etched somewhere in my psyche, but I don’t remember it. What I remember most from my childhood is futility, the season-in/season-out assurance that the Phillies would be mere background noise every summer, and forgotten by autumn.

So what did that mean if you were a diehard fan, if you loved the team but never dared let yourself dream of success? You had to find the personalities and love them, root for them, share their pain at another season ended in vain.

Nobody during that era of futility was more worthy of our love or adulation than Daulton. He came up in 1983 and inherited team leadership when Mike Schmidt retired in 1989. It would take a few summers (and honestly, a bunch of steroids) for Daulton to reach his full potential. He banged out his first All Star season in 1992, a year in which the Phillies lost 92 games and finished 26 out of first. If 162 games is a brutal test of endurance for a player on a losing team, you couldn’t tell by watching Daulton. He led like a superstar on a team of middling to mediocre talent. And he did it through nine knee surgeries. Nine knee surgeries.

If I have only one takeaway from this fact, it’s that Daulton was a straight-up badass. Continue reading…

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…