Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bring Up Some Of That Reading Offense!

GAME RECAP: No Game Yesterday
The Phillies are off until Friday.

  • Left-hander Daniel Stumpf returned to the Phillies July 10 after serving an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Philadelphia acquired Stumpf from Kansas City last December in the Rule 5 Draft. He pitched in three games before being suspended.
  • Active members of the Mets have hit a combined .307 against Hellickson, with Jose Reyes having recorded a .381 batting average to go along with one homer and four RBIs.
  • Mets manager Terry Collins has expressed hope that Yoenis Cespedes would be ready to play by the end of the All-Star break. Cespedes, who sustained a right quad strain July 8, leads the Mets with 21 homers and 52 RBIs. In 26 at-bats against the Phillies in the first half of the year, Cespedes hit .269 with three homers and six RBIs. 

After limping into the All-Star break with a slew of injuries to key players, the Mets turn to Jacob deGrom (5-4, 2.61 ERA) to set the tone for the second half of the season July 15 against the Phillies, who counter with Jeremy Hellickson (6-6, 3.92 ERA). deGrom and Bartolo Colon have been the only regular members of the Mets' starting rotation to avoid injury issues in recent weeks. Matt Harvey opted for season-ending surgery to repair his thoracic outlet syndrome, while Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard have both been pitching through bone spurs; Syndergaard left his start July 8 with a "dead arm." Hellickson has provided a veteran presence in a young Phillies pitching staff, but his name has floated around in trade rumors. The Mets could be in the market for a starter given all their issues, but there's been no indication Hellickson could be an option for them.


1st Half Recap – Things were always going to be different for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016. They entered Spring Training with a different president, general manager and manager than the spring before. The Phillies' clubhouse in Clearwater, Fla., had a different feel, too. Of course, that happens when veterans like Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon are replaced with youngsters like Maikel Franco, Vince Velasquez, Odubel Herrera, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff. Out with the old, in with the new. And a few more victories, too. The Phils had the worst record in baseball last season, but they entered the All-Star break at 42-48, which is 11th from the bottom. While that is not good enough to make a run at the postseason, it is sign of progress. And that is what this season is about: making progress in the rebuild. Here is a look back at the Phillies' first half: WHAT WENT RIGHT: Anybody who followed the Phillies closely should have figured they would be better because their starting pitching would be better. Ten pitchers not named Hamels, Nola, Eickhoff and Adam Morgan posted a combined 6.19 ERA in 106 starts in 2015. But this season's rotation of Jeremy Hellickson, Nola, Eickhoff and Velasquez has generally pitched well. The rotation's 4.32 ERA is in the top half in baseball. Pitching can overcome deficiencies elsewhere. Pitching wins. WHAT WENT WRONG: Until late June, Philadelphia's offense had been on pace to be the lowest-scoring team in a non-strike season since 1972. The lack of offense did not hurt the Phillies during their 24-17 start, but when the rotation started to struggle, the club had no chance to win. WHAT WE LEARNED: The Phils have the makings of a pretty solid rotation. They also have some intriguing arms in the bullpen. But they still need hitters. Herrera and Franco are safe bets to be part of the club's future. Cameron Rupp has been a surprise, putting him into play as well. But is there any other position where somebody would say, "That guy is probably going to be here in a couple of years"? Not really, which means the players currently in those positions still have plenty to prove. FIRST-HALF TOP POSITION PLAYER: Herrera was the Phillies' only All-Star representative, and it was because he had been consistently good since Opening Day. The guy can flat out hit. He has also dramatically improved his walk rate from his rookie season. If the Phils can find some consistent hitting behind Herrera, he will be a dangerous leadoff hitter. FIRST-HALF TOP PITCHER: Nola had the nod through May, but then he struggled in his final five starts before the break. Velasquez has dazzled at times, but Eickhoff has been the rotation's most consistent pitcher. He posted a 3.80 ERA in 18 starts and proved to be the Phillies' stopper during their grueling stretch from mid-May to late June. FIRST-HALF TOP ROOKIE: Believe it or not, but a young team like the Phils doesn't have a bunch of rookies on the roster. Tommy Joseph is the most notable. He got promoted from Triple-A in mid-May and played so well that manager Pete Mackanin formally moved Ryan Howard to the bench. Joseph struggled for a bit, but he finished the first half on a high note. It will be a big second half for him as he tries to prove he should be the team's first baseman going forward.

Future Power – You couldn't even see his face. At 6-foot-6, his 235-pound, built-like-a-lineman frame towered over you from the top step of the first-base dugout at FirstEnergy Stadium, his head cut out of sight by the dugout roof. Dylan Cozens was a day away from going in San Diego for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, during which he'd put the most balls over the wall of anyone in batting practice despite being surrounded by baseball's highest ranked prospects, despite the fact that he doesn't even crack the top 10 in's ranking of the Phillies' system. But before he made the cross-country voyage, the Minors' most prolific power hitter had one more three-hit night in him. Single. Triple. Home run. Reading, the best team in professional baseball -- with as many wins at the All-Star break as the 116-win 2001 Mariners -- hit blackjack in the runs column last Friday. The victim? David Hess and the Bowie Baysox -- just another in a line of teams unable to quiet the bats of Cozens or his Fightin' Phils teammates, who have scored in double digits 14 times this season and average nearly six runs a game. Cozens' 24 home runs are second only in the Minors to the 25 put up by the man who hits behind him, first baseman Rhys Hoskins. At the Major League level, only three teams have hit fewer home runs than the Phillies the past two seasons. "I've always been able to hit the ball a long way," Cozens says. He's also always been the tall one. And the athletic one. But only more recently has he been the big one. His defensive tackle of a father, Randy, had him doing daily pushups since before he can remember -- he could do 100 at a time as a 10-year-old, though he hasn't tried recently. But only toward the middle of his high school career did Cozens start to fill out. During his senior season at Chaparral High in Scottsdale, Ariz., he broke the school's single-season home run record, set by Paul Konerko. At 22, Randy was in his final season of a four-year career as a defensive lineman at the University of Pittsburgh. A year away from being drafted by (but never playing for) the Denver Broncos, he checked in at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. Dylan, now 22, was gifted with his father's size and athleticism, but he is thankful for more than just his fortunate genealogy. "[My father] was always tough on me," Cozens said. "You try to take that same 'football tough' mentality to every sport you play, just hustle and be aggressive." About that football mentality. Cozens, rated a three-star defensive end, passed on football scholarship offers from Arizona, Washington and Boise State to sign with the Phillies out of high school. Between baseball and football seasons, Cozens played basketball, too. The trifecta onot only helped Cozens build athleticism, it is the definition of it, Cozens says: "Being able to be versatile, have different forms of hand-eye coordination, speed, power; stuff like that I feel is what athleticism is all about." Ninety games into the Double-A season, Cozens' 24 home runs are paired with 16 stolen bases. Only three times in Major League history has a player his size swiped that many bags throughout a 162-game schedule. Cozens doesn't like being asked if he has outgrown Double-A. It's not up to him, so why focus on it? Anyway, there is more to work on, despite what an initial glance at his numbers may indicate. Only four of his home runs have come against left-handers, against whom he is hitting .186. His slugging percentage at FirstEnergy Stadium, historically a hitter's park, is double what it is away from home. He also doesn't remember much of his post-Draft BP session at Citizens Bank Park, during which he reportedly parked a couple of balls in the upper deck. It prompted then-general manager Ruben Amaro to describe Cozens as having "extraordinary power." Since then he's hit 62 regular-season homers. Tommy Joseph, a fellow Arizonan, is excited for the day Cozens returns to Citizens Bank Park, this time as a big leaguer rather than a draftee. "He'll hit balls further to left than I will," the right-handed-hitting Joseph says. "He's not a very fun guy to take BP with, just a fun guy to watch."

Today In Phils History – In 1979, Mike Schmidt notched his 31st homerun of the year becoming the first Phillie to collect more than 30 before the All Star break. The following season, Steve Carlton appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Mike Schmidt passed Mickey Mantle on the All Time homerun list on this day in 1988 with his 537th long ball. 2006 saw two events of note when Giants fielded the 1st outfield in MLB history with all 3 players being 40 or older: Barry Bonds (41), Steve Finley (41), and Moises Alou (40). At AAA, Phillies prospect Brennan King was having a historic night as well hitting for the cycle and driving in 8 runs.   

The Phillies are currently 42-48 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 47-45-2 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment