Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Offense Backs Rookie Eflin’s CG Effort

GAME RECAP: Phillies Dominate Braves 5-1

What in the world has gotten into the Phillies' offense? They continued to hit the ball in Tuesday night's 5-1 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Peter Bourjos, Cody Asche, Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph each homered as the Phillies' offense has been one of the best in baseball the past couple weeks, averaging 5.93 runs per game in their last 14 after averaging 3.11 runs in their first 71. The Phillies, who have won nine of their last 12 games, can sweep the Braves with a victory on Wednesday afternoon. "I feel like we were all kind of cold at the same time, now we're hot at the same time, which makes it fun," Bourjos said. "And we're putting up a lot of runs. We're putting together good at-bats, and we're hitting balls hard even when we're down in counts. We're just battling back." Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings as Ender Inciarte homered in the seventh, the only run the Braves scored against Phillies rookie Zach Eflin, who threw a complete game for the first win of his career. Atlanta has lost 10 of its last 14. "I've said it all along: Eflin is my favorite pitcher," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

  • Bourjos has been on fire lately. He is hitting .464 (32-for-69) with five doubles, three triples, three home runs, nine RBIs and a 1.260 OPS in 22 games since June 11, when he was batting .192 with a .501 OPS. Mackanin credited Bourjos' current streak for the Phillies' offensive revival. The Phillies have hit 22 home runs in their last 14 games after knocking 60 in their first 71. Their 0.85 home runs per game average through June 20 ranked 28th, while their 1.57 homers per game average since then ranks fourth. "I just feel a lot more comfortable and obviously more confident with everything that I'm doing," Bourjos said. "I'm allowing the ball to get deeper and not over-swinging, and I think that breeds confidence in the fact that I'm not scared to get to two strikes where before I didn't want to get to two strikes because I felt like I was going to chase."
  • Eflin has been earning his paycheck since his big league debut in Toronto on June 14, when he allowed nine runs in just 2 2/3 innings. He has a 2.03 ERA in his last four starts, including his complete game against the Braves. Eflin allowed one run on six hits and struck out six to earn his first big league win. He is the first Phillies starter to throw a complete game for his first big league win since Mike Williams pitched one against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on July 5, 1992. He is the first Phillies rookie to throw a complete game since Vance Worley on July 26, 2011, against the Giants. "I threw that last pitch and I was just shaking, thanking God for the opportunity to be out there," Eflin said.
  • "It's very encouraging to see those. [Aaron] Nola is [24]. [Jerad] Eickhoff, he's the old man. He's [25] I believe. Eflin, he looks like he has the confidence he needs to pitch up here. We just have a lot of good young pitchers. It's fun to watch. They're going to have their ups and downs, but it takes a while to get really established here and feel comfortable." -- Mackanin, on the Phillies' rotation, which features four starters in their mid-to-early 20s.
  • Odubel Herrera, in his second at-bat since being named an All-Star, grounded a ball to third baseman Adonis Garcia, which he couldn't handle. As Herrera took his lead off first, Foltynewicz threw over. Although Herrera was initially ruled safe on his dive back to the bag, the Braves challenged and the call was overturned. Snitker is now 8-for-15 on challenges this season.
  • This is the final game of a homestand that has treated the Phillies well. They opened it by taking two of three from the defending champion Royals and another in the opener of their series vs. Atlanta.
  • Nick Markakis is the only Braves hitter with much history against Hellickson. In 37 career at-bats, Markakis is hitting .243 with two home runs off the Phils' righty.
  • The Braves do not believe Teheran's right thigh infection is serious. They hope he will be able to make a start this weekend in Chicago.

It won't be the first Major League appearance for Tyrell Jenkins, but it will be his first start when he takes the mound at 1:05 ET on Wednesday against the Phillies. Jenkins (0-1, 5.79 ERA) is making a spot start, filling in for Julio Teheran, who was sent back to Atlanta for treatment on an ingrown hair on his right thigh. The 23-year-old righty will face the Phillies' Jeremy Hellickson (6-6, 4.06 ERA) in the finale of a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park. Jenkins, who was called up on June 16, has made four relief appearances -- all but one for two innings or more. In 14 games (nine starts) for Triple-A Gwinnett, Jenkins went 6-3 with a 2.91 ERA over 65 innings. ranks him as the Braves' No. 7 prospect. Hellickson, a likely mover at the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, has been boosting his stock over his last few starts. He has allowed one earned run in each of his last two starts and has a 2.37 ERA over his last three.


Eflin’s Stellar Start – Zach Eflin said he felt completely confident as he stepped onto the mound in the ninth inning on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. The moment finally overcame him 11 pitches later when he sealed a 5-1 victory over the Braves. "I threw that last pitch and I was just shaking, thanking God for the opportunity to be out there," Eflin said. Eflin needed just 92 pitches to throw a complete game for the first win of his big league career. He is the first Phillies pitcher to record a complete game for his first big league win since Mike Williams on July 5, 1992, against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. He is also the first Phillies rookie to toss a complete game since Vance Worley on July 26, 2011, against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park. "I've said it all along: Eflin is my favorite pitcher," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. It has been an impressive turnaround for Eflin, who is just five starts into his big league career. He allowed nine runs (eight earned) in just 2 2/3 innings in his big league debut on June 14 in Toronto. Since then, Eflin has gradually improved. He has a 2.03 ERA in his last four starts. "A lot more," Eflin said when asked how much more comfortable he feels since Toronto. "I learned a lot after that outing, unfortunately. But that was a good thing at the same time." Eflin worked quickly and efficiently on Tuesday, benefitting from four double plays. The game lasted just two hours and eight minutes, making it the Phillies' quickest game since Sept. 27, 2013, when they played the Braves in just 2:07. "I was really just trying to stay ahead, attack with my sinker and get weak contact," Eflin said. "We rolled a lot of double plays, which was huge. When you have guys like Freddy [Galvis] and Cesar [Hernandez] up the middle, it helps a lot." Eflin is scheduled to pitch on Sunday in Colorado, the Phillies' final game before the All-Star break. He hopes to carry more good feelings into the second half. It is a big one for him and the rest of the Phillies' young staff, which includes Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez. They are trying to establish themselves heading into 2017. But Eflin can worry about those things later. On Tuesday, he just needed to savor the moment. "I think it's a pretty cool way to get your first win," Eflin said. "It's pretty exciting."

The Lone All Star – Long before Phillies fans began to know Odubel Herrera as "El Torito," the energetic, perpetually smiling, always-clapping-after-a-walk, sometimes-flipping-his-bat-after-a-sac-fly Phillies center fielder, the organization used a couple scouting reports and a strong recommendation from one of their own to make him one of the best Rule 5 Draft picks in franchise history. "We feel like we're taking a shot on a prospect," Phillies professional scouting director Mike Ondo said after selecting Herrera with the eighth pick in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies got much more than that. They got an All-Star and a key piece to their future. Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that Herrera is the Phillies' lone representative at the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard at Petco Park at 7:30 p.m. ET on July 12 in San Diego. Herrera entered Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Braves ranked fourth among National League outfielders in on-base percentage (.389) and hits (92), seventh in batting average (.302) and 14th in OPS (.832). "He's a special guy," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I call him a hit collector. I don't know how he does it sometimes. He looks so bad at one at-bat and then the next three gets hits." Herrera joins Dave Hollins and Shane Victorino as Phillies' Rule 5 Draft picks to make an All-Star team. "It feels great," Herrera said through the Phillies' interpreter. "To me, it is an honor to represent the Phillies, Venezuela and people in Latin America in the All-Star Game. I feel very proud of this moment because I want to show what I'm about and what the Phils are about." But before Herrera made the NL squad, the Phillies needed to sort through countless scouting reports of potential Rule 5 picks before settling on Herrera. They had seen him in the past as the Phillies combed through the Rangers' farm system for potential trades that involved Cole Hamels, as well as their scouts' normal runs through the Texas League, where Herrera won a batting title in 2014. Herrera continued to hit that winter in Venezuela. "There was some concern on our part that he wouldn't get to eight," Ondo said. But the Phillies got a little lucky that special assistant of player personnel Jorge Velandia managed Herrera's winter ball team. He got to know Herrera as a person, while watching him hit and play in the outfield. A look at Herrera in the outfield was huge because nobody else with the Phillies had seen him play there before. He came up through the Rangers' system as a second baseman, but his potential in the outfield immediately made him more attractive to the Phillies' front office. It is safe to say the Phillies might not have picked Herrera without Velandia's strong recommendation. "I'll be honest, we liked the player," Ondo said, "but a lot had to do with the outfield and knowing the person, knowing what you were getting in the player. That was a huge assist. We were real fortunate that Jorge was there to give us that information." Fans can vote for the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote until 4 p.m. ET on Friday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will be announced during a Final Vote-themed telecast of "MLB Now" featuring commentary from political analyst Jeff Greenfield, live on MLB Network and from 4-5 p.m. ET. MLB Network will provide extensive coverage across all of its studio programming during the Final Vote, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating the cities where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement. Baseball fans have cast nearly 600 million online votes for Final Vote candidates since the program's inception in 2002. In addition to and the official club websites, fans can use their mobile devices to cast votes at or via text message. To receive the ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010. For the fifth consecutive year, the Final Vote will include social balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Friday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners. On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit 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, in San Diego, 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 Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit

Planning For The Trade Deadline – Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is making calls and taking calls as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. Klentak has some players that could help contending teams, most notably right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, closer Jeanmar Gomez and outfielder Peter Bourjos. But do not expect the fireworks of last summer, when the team traded Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Jake Diekman and Ben Revere. If the Phillies make any moves, they will be more modest in nature. "Nothing hot right now," Klentak said before Tuesday night's 5-1 win over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. "I don't know if we'll be super active. We certainly have players that other teams like, but I also like the fact that they're helping contribute to this team. We're in a good stretch right now, and we don't really want to pull the rug out. We'll just have to wait and see. We have almost 30 days. It's a long time. "I would say looking at this a month ago, if I was projecting forward, I would have guessed we'd be roughly in the spot we are in now. And a lot of trades don't take place until hours leading up to the Deadline. And I don't know why 2016 would be different than that." 

Injury Update – Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr entered Spring Training as the projected Opening Day right fielder, but he tore a tendon in his left wrist in March. He is taking live batting practice in Clearwater, Fla., and he should be ready for a rehab assignment sometime within the next week or two. Altherr likely will need at least another month before he rejoins the team. Left-hander Daniel Stumpf is expected to rejoin the team on Sunday in Colorado. He is nearing the end of an 80-game suspension for testing positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which is an anabolic steroid also known as Oral-Turinabol. The Phillies will need to make a move on their 40-man roster to accommodate Stumpf, who allowed three runs on one hit (a homer) with two walks in just two-thirds of an inning spanning three appearances for a 40.50 ERA. The Rule 5 Draft pick is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Right-hander Andrew Bailey, who is on the DL with a strained left hamstring, will begin a rehab assignment on Thursday with Lehigh Valley. He is eligible to be activated on Friday.

International Update – The Phillies have agreed to terms with at least six players: right-hander Francisco Morales ($720,000 signing bonus), shortstop Brayan Gonzalez ($900,000), shortstop Nicolas Torres ($665,000), outfielder Simon Muzziotti ($750,000), catcher Juan Aparicio ($475,000) and shortstop Jose Tortolero ($450,000). The Phillies issued one big bonus last summer to Dominican Republic outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz, who received $4 million. This summer, the Phillies spread around their money, being careful not to exceed their $5,610,800 bonus pool. "There are going to be times when we believe that's the right strategy," Klentak said about issuing a large signing bonus to one player. "In this particular class, we were best suited to spread it out among a number of players. What is important is that we get as many good players as we can in our system. You prefer good players that are athletic, athletic players that play up the middle, and let player development help that and see which one is developing into legitimate prospects."

Draft Update – The Phillies have signed 29 of 40 players selected in the 2016 Draft. They will exceed the allotted $13,405,200 in their bonus pool but by no more than five percent. That is significant because teams that exceed the pool by no more than five percent are taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage, while a team that overspends by 5-10 percent pays a 75 percent tax, plus loses a first-round pick in next year's Draft. "That's a credit to our ownership that recognized the opportunity that we had with our Draft pool that allowed us the flexibility to maximize the value of it," Klentak said.

Today In Phils History – In 1893, Jack Boyle’s 6 hits weren’t enough to overcome Chicago in 11 innings as the Phillies lost 11-10. Of course, it could have been worse like in 1929 when the Phillies surrendered 10 runs in both the 1st and 5th innings against the Cardinals in route to a 28-6 loss. In 1950, Granny Hamner drew a bases loaded walk against New York which was the 4th straight game in which the Phillies scored a run in such a manner. 30 years later, Steve Carlton breaks the MLB record for most strikeouts by a left handed pitcher surpassing Mickey Lolich (2,832). 6 years later in 1986, the Phillies tie a MLB record by recording 7 extra base hits in an inning during a win over the Reds. In 1989, Mike Schmidt received a pleasant surprise when he was selected by the fans as the NL’s starting 3B for the All Star game but declined the invitation as he had retired back on May 29th. 20 years later, the Phillies beat the Reds 21-1 setting the mark for the largest margin of victory in team history thanks in part to Shane Victorino tying another franchise record with 5 runs scored in the game.

The Phillies are currently 39-46 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 41-64-0 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.

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