Saturday, July 16, 2016

Phillies Open Second Half With Loss

GAME RECAP: Mets Beat Phillies 5-3

The Mets opened the second half of their season Friday night tied for the second National League Wild Card. Of course, they want better than that, and New York hopes a 5-3 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park is the beginning of a run at the first-place Nationals in the National League East. Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon carried a perfect game into the fifth inning as Neil Walker hit a three-run home run in the sixth to give New York a 4-0 lead. The Mets trail the Nationals by six games. Juan Lagares reached base three times, including a solo homer in the third, and also stole a bag and scored two runs. He started in center field in place of Yoenis Cespedes, who is recovering from a strained right quad. "Two years ago we thought Juan was going to be an outstanding offensive player," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's done a nice job when he's been in there. Right now with Ces's leg, we've certainly got to take a look at seeing if Juan should see some more playing time." The rebuilding Phillies entered the second half hoping to make a long-shot run at a postseason berth. But despite cutting the lead to 4-3 in the sixth -- highlighted by Peter Bourjos' RBI triple -- they could not get any closer. "This is one of the better teams in the league and we compete with them every time we play them, so I feel like we can definitely do it," Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said. "We've just got to string some wins together like we did in the first half. Obviously it wasn't a good start today, but I absolutely think we can make a run at it."

  • Hellickson enters what could be his final couple of weeks with the Phillies. He is a free agent after the season, and the Phillies could trade him to a contender before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Hellickson allowed just one run through five innings before Walker hit a three-run home run to left in the sixth. "I felt great," Hellickson said. "I just got a little gassed at the end. Leadoff man on the last two innings, I was working way too hard." 
  • Two of the reasons the Phillies' offense has picked up the past few weeks has been the hitting of outfielders Bourjos and Cody Asche. After Bourjos' triple in the sixth, Asche's bloop single to left later in the inning scored the Phillies' third run of the night. "We bounced back, that was nice to see," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
  • "He's not the guy I wanted to see coming out of the break because he's such a good pitcher. He knows what he's doing. He just kind of stifled us for a while there." --Mackanin, on Colon.
  • Mets closer Jeurys Familia passed Brad Lidge for sole possession of fifth place on the all-time consecutive saves list, converting his 48th straight and 32nd this season. Next up is John Axford, who converted 49 straight.
  • Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco had his 10-game hitting streak snapped.
Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff pitches the second game of the three-game series against the Mets on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. Eickhoff went 6-10 with a 3.80 ERA in the first half, but don't let the win-loss record fool anybody. He might have been the Phillies' best and most consistent pitcher before the All-Star break.


Ignoring Trade Talks – Trade speculation is impossible to ignore these days, but the Phillies are trying their best. Two of the Phillies' more interesting trade candidates played roles in Friday night's 5-3 loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson allowed one run through the first five innings before Neil Walker's three-run homer in the sixth. Phillies right fielder Peter Bourjos had an RBI triple in a three-run sixth inning. Both are free agents after the season. Both could be had at the right price before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. "On most teams, everybody plays GM," Bourjos said. "Everyone is like, 'Oh, I'd do this, this and this.' Here we haven't been doing it. We've really been focusing on just playing and not worrying about it, which has been nice. But I know on some teams I've been on it seems like everybody is a GM and everybody sits around at dinner and tries to make trades. We should get this guy and whatnot, but here we've been focused and I think that's probably for the best." Hellickson and Bourjos could help contending teams, although returns for them might be relatively modest. Hellickson is 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA. But his experience, particularly his years pitching in the American League East, could interest a team looking to improve its rotation. "Yeah, it's on my mind," Hellickson said, "just when I see it on Twitter or talk to [the media] about it. But other than that, I'm focused every day doing what I have to do to get ready for my next start. Like I've said all along, I love it here. I'd love to be here the rest of the year, but obviously I've been through it before and know that side of the game." Bourjos has been one of the hottest hitters since the middle of June, hitting .404 (36-for-89) with seven doubles, four triples, three home runs, 10 RBIs and a 1.122 OPS in his last 26 games. Combine his hot bat with his Gold Glove-caliber defense and he could be attractive to a contender. "I don't know what's going to happen," Bourjos said. "You don't know what your trade value is. I've been swinging the bat well over the last month-and-a-half. Who knows what other GMs are thinking and what other teams need?" But while the Phillies are under no pressure to make trades like last year, they might have incentive to move a player or two, particularly in the outfield and on the mound. Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr could be activated from the disabled list in the next few weeks. He opened Spring Training projected to be an everyday player before he tore a tendon in his left wrist. Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Nick Williams could earn a promotion. He is the Phillies' No. 3 prospect and No. 56 prospect in baseball, according to If he is promoted before September, they certainly do not want him sitting on the bench. Triple-A right-hander Jake Thompson is angling for a promotion, too. He pitched seven scoreless innings Friday against Buffalo to make him 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his last eight starts. He is the Phillies' No. 2 prospect and the No. 48 prospect in baseball, according to "I don't even follow it anymore," Bourjos said of the trade speculation. "When I was younger I used to read probably every article. Since 2010, my name has been thrown in probably 100 different trade scenarios and I've only been traded one time. It's not even worth it to read them. I'm happy here. Hopefully I stay here and I continue to play well and if something does happen, obviously it's a good thing."

High Expectations – Phillies manager Pete Mackanin relaxed at the Jersey Shore over the All-Star break, but when he returned to Citizens Bank Park on Friday he took a look at the National League standings. He found the Phillies, while six games under .500, only six games behind the Mets and Marlins for the second Wild Card. "Why not?" Mackanin said about chasing a Wild Card. "Let's set our sights high. Wild Card? I mean, might as well." Of course, the Phillies are still a rebuilding team, which means they remain focused on 2017 and beyond. And that means they could trade players who could help them in their Wild Card pursuit. Possibilities include Jeremy Hellickson, Peter Bourjos, Jeanmar Gomez, David Hernandez, Cody Asche, Carlos Ruiz, Andrew Bailey and Andres Blanco. "I don't know how much interest, if there is any, in any of our guys," Mackanin said. "I would assume there would be. Teams need pitchers. Teams need players. I don't know what they would bring. If there is a deal to be made, I have confidence that [general manager] Matt [Klentak] will do it because it's a good deal, not just to make a deal. "There's no reason just to make a deal, because we still have a bunch of guys in the Minor Leagues that we're high on. It's different in that respect. You kind of knew that something was going to happen last year. This year, I don't know." It will be interesting to see how the Phillies handle the outfield moving forward. Odubel Herrera is going to play every day in center field. Bourjos has earned regular playing time in right field. Asche is trying to make his case in left. Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Goeddel needs to play, too. "We see an upside [in Goeddel]," Mackanin said. "And he's going to play enough to stay here the whole year and we'll have rights to him." Asked if the same holds true for fellow Rule 5 Draft pick Daniel Stumpf, who just returned from an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, Mackanin said he did not know. But outfielder Aaron Altherr could be back in the next few weeks. He has been on the disabled list since March because of a torn tendon in his left wrist. Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Nick Williams could see a promotion soon, too. Something will have to give to get Altherr and Williams on the field. "There already is a logjam because Williams is having a good year and [Double-A Reading outfielder Dylan] Cozens is on the radar, and a few other people and the guys we have here," Mackanin said. "That's a nice situation to be in. That's why it's important for all these guys, like an Asche, to have a big year this year, so he stays in that mix. "We still have to let guys play and find out about them. But we might as well play for something, have the target. But I still have to play guys and see what they are going to do. We still have to find out as much as we can so that next year we're closer."

Today In Phils History – In 1948, following a notorious couple of seasons, Ben Chapman was fired as Phillies manager and replaced by Dusty Cooke. Ramiro Mendoza achieved a rare feat against the Phillies in 2001 when he retired the side (Eric Valent, Doug Glanville, and Jimmy Rollins) on 3 pitches.  

The Phillies are currently 42-49 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 58-47-0 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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