Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Rotation Could Be Getting A Prolonged Shuffle

GAME RECAP: No Game Yesterday
The Phillies took the day off yesterday after a successful weekend series against the Brewers.

  • Cedric Hunter not only made the Phillies' Opening Day roster, he started in left field on Opening Day. But the Phillies optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on April 18 and outrighted him from the 40-man roster Monday. Hunter hit .088 (3-for-34) with one home run, one RBI, two walks and six strikeouts in 13 games with the Phillies. According to MLB.com research, Hunter is the first Opening Day starter to be outrighted from a team's 40-man roster before the end of April since 2014. The Pirates outrighted Travis Ishikawa on April 19, 2014. He started at first base for the Pirates on Opening Day that year.
The Phillies open a three-game series at 7:05 p.m. ET Tuesday against the Nationals at Nationals Park. Right-hander Vince Velasquez hopes to bounce back after the Mets scored five runs (two earned) in 4 1/3 innings against him last week in Philadelphia. Velasquez struck out 25 batters in 15 scoreless innings in his first two starts this season.


This Could Be Bad – It sounds like Phillies right-hander Charlie Morton will miss more than just a couple of starts. Morton strained his left hamstring Saturday running to first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt in Milwaukee. The Phillies placed him on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, and he received an MRI exam in Philadelphia on Monday. "Apparently, his MRI wasn't as good as we were hoping," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said before Tuesday night's series opener against the Nationals at Nationals Park. "We're going to see what happens in the next two or three days and see what the next step is. I really don't know what the next step is, I just know it's not as good as we were hoping." The Phillies have made no formal announcement, but Triple-A left-hander Adam Morgan is expected to take Morton's spot in the rotation Friday night against the Indians at Citizens Bank Park. Morgan had been scheduled to pitch Tuesday night, but the IronPigs started right-hander Reinier Roibal instead. Morgan is 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA in three starts at Lehigh Valley. Vince Velasquez beat Morgan in a Spring Training competition to be the team's No. 5 starter. Morgan went 5-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 15 starts last season with the Phillies.

Let The Voting Begin – The Phillies have not had two position players named to the National League All-Star team since 2011, when Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino made the squad. But the Phillies could have two at the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, if Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera keep hitting like they have through the first three weeks of the season. Major League Baseball announced its All-Star Game ballots Sunday, and that pair is the Phillies' best bet to play in the Midsummer Classic in July in San Diego at Petco Park. Franco is emerging as one of the best third basemen in the NL. He has homered three times in the past two games and is batting .299 with two doubles, five home runs, 12 RBIs and an .890 OPS, which ranks 18th among all NL players. Franco's OPS also ranks third among NL third basemen. Only Colorado's Nolan Arenado (.984 OPS) and Cincinnati's Eugenio Suarez (.963 OPS) have been better. Herrera is looking more and more like an incredible find in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft. He is hitting .283 with one double, one triple, two home runs, eight RBIs, 17 walks, four stolen bases and an .875 OPS, which ranks 20th among all NL players. Herrera's OPS puts him 10th among NL outfielders and third among NL center fielders. From June 7, 2015, through Saturday, Herrera is hitting .322 with an .850 OPS in 417 plate appearances. Also on the ballot for the Phillies are catcher Carlos Ruiz, first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, shortstop Freddy Galvis, left fielder Cody Asche and right fielder Peter Bourjos. Browsing the ballot: The other side: Why is David Ortiz retiring again? The Red Sox designated hitter is batting .286 with eight doubles, three home runs, 14 RBIs and a .992 OPS in 16 games. Tip of the cap: Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich is having a crazy good start. He is hitting .396 with seven doubles, one home run, five RBIs, 15 walks and a 1.113 OPS in 16 games. His OPS ranks fourth in the NL. A rising star: Have you seen Tyler White's numbers? The Astros' first baseman is hitting .298 with four doubles, five home runs, 12 RBIs and a 1.001 OPS in 17 games. His OPS ranks sixth in the American League and 14th in the Majors. Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on their computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 times. Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info. Following the announcement of the 2016 All-Stars, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Today In Phils History – In addition to the birthdays of Hack Wilson (1900) and Granny Hamner (1927), this day is remembered for a myriad of other events. The Phillies finally closed the door in 1965 on Sandy Koufax ending his streak of 9 straight wins over the franchise dating back to 1961. Another lefty, Steve Carlton, also had a milestone day in 1980 when he completed his franchise record 6th 1-hitter nearly 8 years to the day after pitching his first one for the Phillies in 1972. This complete game effort allowed Tug McGraw to enjoy a day off on the 5th anniversary of his debut with the team. Speaking of debuts, two notable free agent signings, Gregg Jefferies and Norm Charlton, made their Phillies debut in 1995 when the season finally got underway after the strike. Of course, what Phillies phans may best remember about this date is Mike Schmidt hitting 2 homeruns against the Big Red Machine tying a major league record for the month (11) on the same day of his first appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  

The Phillies are currently 9-10 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. The Phillies finished the spring exceeding most expectations compiling a record of 15-11-3 (18-11-3 if you include the exhibition games against Reading and the University of Tampa). All time, the Phillies are 39-51-2 on this day. I expect the Phillies to finish in the bottom half of the division but not last in the NL East by finishing the season with a 77-85 record. Let the rebuild begin!

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