Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bullpen Collapses Following Eflin’s Excellent Effort

GAME RECAP: Giants Edge Phillies 5-4

The Giants are riding their best 40-game stretch in 62 years. The Phillies have lost 10 of their last 11. Though the clubs appear to be heading in opposite directions, they crossed paths in extremely entertaining fashion Friday night at AT&T Park. San Francisco seemed to seal another victory with a four-run outburst in the seventh inning, which featured Brandon Belt's three-run double. But the Phillies scored twice in the eighth and loaded the bases in the ninth with two outs before the Giants finally emerged with a 5-4 triumph. The game ended with a replay review confirming that Giants third baseman Ramiro Pena threw out Tyler Goeddel at first base on an exceedingly close play. "Exciting game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That game had just about everything. You look at Belt's hit and go, 'That won the game for us.' But those guys came back. Pena made a great play there to save us." Ultimately, the National League West-leading Giants recorded their 12th victory in their last 13 games and improved to 31-9 in their past 40 games -- their best 40-game span since going 33-7 in 1954 as the New York Giants. Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin, making his third Major League start, muted the Giants for six innings and bequeathed a 2-1 lead to Philadelphia's bullpen. The Giants quickly roused themselves in the seventh, as Trevor Brown and pinch-hitter Buster Posey singled. Following Denard Span's sacrifice bunt, Joe Panik walked to load the bases. Belt bashed an 0-1 pitch to right-center field, scoring all three baserunners. Angel Pagan's second RBI single of the game delivered Belt, putting the Giants on top, 5-2. Philadelphia made it a 5-4 game with two runs in the eighth inning, as Freddy Galvis rapped an RBI single and Peter Bourjos drew a bases-loaded walk, but San Francisco's bullpen held the lead to secure a win for Jake Peavy (4-6), who surrendered two runs and seven hits in seven innings. "We battled back. We had good at-bats the last couple innings," Goeddel said. "We were one hit away from winning the game."

  • Eflin, who is the Phillies' No. 13 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, took a step forward in a no-decision, allowing one unearned run in six innings. That run scored in the first on an infield hit by Pagan, and Eflin allowed just three hits the rest of the way. After allowing nine runs in 2 2/3 innings in his big league debut June 14 in Toronto, Eflin has a 1.54 ERA (two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings) in two starts since. "I'm learning from every outing," Eflin said, "making sure I fine-tune everything to make sure I'm able to put the best outing on the table." 
  • The Phillies' bullpen had been pretty solid through the end of May, but the unit has struggled since. Severino Gonzalez and Elvis Araujo combined to allow four runs in the seventh inning on Friday as the Giants took a 5-2 lead. Philadelphia relievers have a 6.16 ERA since May 29.
  • "I didn't think he'd use Posey in the seventh. I didn't think he'd use two guys for one move in the seventh." -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, expressing surprise that Bochy called on Posey to face Phillies lefty Araujo after just calling Jarrett Parker to the plate as a pinch-hitter.
Jeremy Hellickson (4-6, 4.41 ERA) faces the Giants in the second game of this three-game series on Saturday night at AT&T Park. The right-hander has struggled lately, although after allowing three runs in the first inning last week against the D-backs, he pitched six scoreless innings.


Showing Promise – It sounds like Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin locked up at least a few more starts in the big leagues. The Phillies' No. 13 prospect allowed one unearned run in six innings Friday night in a 5-4 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park. After he allowed a run in the first inning, he gave up just three hits the rest of the way. And after allowing nine runs in 2 2/3 innings in his big league debut June 14 in Toronto, Eflin has a 1.54 ERA (two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings) in two starts since. "I'm learning from every outing," Eflin said, "making sure I fine-tune everything to make sure I'm able to put the best outing on the table." But does he deserve a longer look? "For me he does," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said, "especially after that fiasco against Toronto. You've got to like that. He's 22 years old. A full house in San Francisco against a team that's won 30 out of their last 39 games, he did a [heck] of a job." Eflin seemed destined to remain in the Phillies' rotation anyway, even with right-hander Vince Velasquez expected to return next week. Mackanin has indicated left-hander Adam Morgan could be bumped from Monday's start against the D-backs, possibly moving to the bullpen. But Eflin's performance against the Giants, who have the best record in the Majors since May 10, probably clinched his spot. "I'm going out on the mound, and it's not really nerve-wracking," Eflin said. "I feel comfortable." The Phillies' bullpen coughed up the lead in the seventh inning as the Giants took a 5-2 lead. Severino Gonzalez started the seventh, which is usually David Hernandez's spot, but Hernandez has posted an 18.69 ERA in his last four appearances. Gonzalez allowed a leadoff single to Trevor Brown. The Giants sent pinch-hitter Jarrett Parker to the plate, but the Phillies call on left-hander Elvis Araujo. The Giants then countered with pinch-hitter Buster Posey. "Parker hits .326 against lefties, and I didn't think he'd use Posey in the seventh," Mackanin said about Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "I didn't think he'd use two guys for one move in the seventh." Posey hit a line drive to center field, which deflected off Odubel Herrera's glove. The ball probably should have been caught, and the inning went south from there as Araujo was charged with three of the four runs that scored. He has a 5.87 ERA in 27 appearances. The Phillies' bullpen has a 6.16 ERA since May 29.

Proceed With Caution – Vince Velasquez rejoined the Phillies on Friday at AT&T Park, and he is expected to start Monday in Arizona. But how will the right-hander be handled the rest of the season? Velasquez offered some insight before Friday night's series opener against the Giants, saying he and his agent, Scott Boras, have discussed a possible innings limit. Velasquez has been on the disabled list since June 9 because of a strained right biceps, but he made a successful rehab start Wednesday with Double-A Reading. The Phillies planned to be careful with Velasquez even before the injury. First, he has not pitched more than 124 2/3 innings in a season, so they never had any intentions of turning him loose. Second, the team had health concerns when they acquired him from Houston in a December trade. "The agents and I discussed it a little bit, but I don't know the definite answer, an exact amount of innings," Velasquez said. "I don't know, I'd want to say roughly like maybe 150 or something, maybe 160 tops. If there was a possible chance of being in a playoff run or something, I would love to help the guys out in relief because I've done that in the past." Boras has a history of watching closely over his young pitchers, most notably Matt Harvey, Stephen Strasburg and Jose Fernandez. "He was really on my butt about this injury thing," Velasquez said. "I mean, any injury you've got to take it very seriously. He was really strict on it. … We're all on the same page. I filled in everybody about what was going on. They're aware of my bullpens and how many throws I was doing." Velasquez said Boras and the Phillies are on the same page, too. But it is unclear whether Boras and the Phillies' front office have had an actual conversation regarding an innings limit for Velasquez. "I know it's obviously on our radar as well," Phillies president Andy MacPhail said. "I would say, philosophically, we're probably in the same ballpark." "All I know is I'm just going to keep pitching until they tell me to stop," Velasquez said. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Saturday that left-hander Adam Morgan, originally scheduled to start Monday in Arizona, would be available out of the bullpen Sunday.

Bailey Goes Down – Phillies right-hander Andrew Bailey thought he might need only a day or two. It turns out he will get much more time than that to rest his strained left hamstring. The Phillies on Friday placed him on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Thursday. They recalled right-hander Edubray Ramos from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take his place. "They said they didn't have a couple days," Bailey said. "They couldn't wait around that long, I guess, so they wanted to make a move, which stinks. I think I would have been all right for tomorrow, but that's my opinion. It's not a move personally I like, but it's best for the team I guess. That's most important." Bailey has a 4.39 ERA in 26 2/3 innings. "We can't continue scramble to get through a game," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I don't want to use [Hector] Neris, [Jeanmar] Gomez and [David] Hernandez when I don't have to. He [Bailey] might be ready in three days, but we can't do that." Ramos, the Phillies' No. 28 prospect, went 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA in 38 2/3 innings split between Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley. His first appearance will be his big league debut. The Phillies also announced that left-handed pitcher Daniel Stumpf is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment Friday with Class A Advanced Clearwater. He was suspended 80 games in April for violating the Minor League's performance-enhancing drug policy. Stumpf is eligible to rejoin the team July 10. "We want to keep him," Mackanin said. "He showed enough. When he's ready, he'll most likely come back."

Unlikely Journey – Edubray Ramos pitched so poorly in his professional baseball debut in Venezuela in 2010, he spent the next couple of years painting cars with his father and mopping up messes in warehouses. He has come a long way. The Phillies promoted Ramos to the big leagues Friday, when they placed right-hander Andrew Bailey on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Ramos, 23, is one of the first names folks in the organization mentioned as a potential closer after the Phillies traded Ken Giles to the Astros in December. Ramos, the Phillies' No. 28 prospect, has lived up to the hype this season, going a combined 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA and 10 saves in 26 appearances with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He struck out 41 and walked four in 38 2/3 innings. "I never imagined this," Ramos said through the Phillies' interpreter. "I was out of baseball. It was impossible for me to imagine this. It's a beautiful moment for me. I just want to take advantage of this opportunity." The Cardinals signed Ramos as an amateur free agent in 2010, but his few appearances in Venezuela did not go well. The Cardinals moved their academy to the Dominican Republic, but decided to leave Ramos behind. Ramos spent the next couple of seasons out of baseball, but after a successful tryout with the Phillies, he signed a contract in November 2012. He said he got no signing bonus, which will make him an amazing find if he pans out. "I didn't even think I would be able to come back and sign a professional contract," Ramos said. His fastball sits in the 93-96-mph range, but he also throws a changeup, slider and curveball. He said he worked to get stronger over the past few years, which helped him add velocity to his fastball. "When you're out of baseball, you realize how hard things can be," Ramos said. "So when I came back to baseball, I made sure I took advantage of the opportunity to stay in the game." Triple-A pitching coach Dave Lundquist told Ramos about his promotion. Teammate Edward Mujica translated the news. "I called my parents first," Ramos said. "Then I called my brothers. They know it's been tough for me sometimes. They've helped me through bad moments. They've been with me through the ups and downs. It's very special for them. I couldn't believe it. They couldn't believe it. But I'm here and it's happening. I'm glad it's real."

Today In Phils History – In an unlikely move, Rookie shortstop Bob Allen took the helm in 1890 as the last of three interim mangers to fill in for an ill Harry Wright. 60 years later, the Cubs Hank Sauer had a heck of a game against the Phillies hitting 2 homeruns and 2 doubles. Those who remember games at the Vet most likely remember the marker in the 600 level where, on this day, Willie Stargell’s homerun landed (he was the 1st player to hit a homerun into the 600 level). In an unlucky streak, in 1989 the Mets tied a MLB record by recording no assists against the Phillies but still pulling off the 5-1 win.

The Phillies are currently 31-44 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 55-61-0 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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