Thursday, December 24, 2020

Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2020 Christmas Favorites Survey

Season's greetings to all!  It's that time of the year to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season.  Every year at Christmas time, I survey a group of Phillies prospects about what they get excited for during the holidays.  This year I included a throwback Phils name as well.

Individuals taking part in this year's 11th annual Christmas favorites survey include former Phillies All-Star and coach Mickey Morandini as well as pitching prospects Dominic Pipkin, Erik Miller and Ben Brown along with corner infielder Matt Kroon. Inquiries and responses regarding each player's holly jolly favorites lie ahead...

 

-What's your favorite Christmas song and which version?

Morandini- All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey.

Pipkin- Blue Christmas by Elvis.  It's just unbeatable.  

Miller- I don't like Christmas music, to be honest.

Kroon- I am a big fan of the original Jingle Bells. It reminds me of being a kid again. It reminds me of all the holiday activities and good times that are about to be celebrated.

Brown- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  And my favorite version is the one that my church's worship group sings.

 

-What's your favorite Christmas movie?

Morandini- A Christmas Story.

Pipkin- Elf.  Will Ferrell is one of my favorite actors. 

Miller- My favorite movie is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Kroon- My favorite Christmas movie is Home Alone. Always has been and always will be.  Just a true classic!

Brown- My favorite Christmas movie, hands down, is Elf.  I try to watch at least two times every Christmas season.

 

-What is your favorite thing to eat at the holidays and who makes it?

Morandini- Beef tenderloin that my wife, Peg, makes.

Pipkin- My mom's lobster tail on Christmas Eve.  She makes it perfectly every time. 

Miller- My mom makes this spicy sausage dip once a year for Christmas and it's the best and most sought out dish on Christmas Day. 

Kroon- My Aunt Gia’s homemade mac and cheese! I’ve never had one bad bite.

Brown- My mom makes an amazing breakfast every Christmas.  Really looking forward to that this year.

 

-Do you have a standout memorable gift from childhood?

Morandini- Gremlin go-cart.  

Pipkin- My PS3 when I was 10.  I still use it to this day. 

Miller- I don't have any particularly memorable gifts.  We would go on vacations the day after Christmas when I was younger and those were always great gifts.

Kroon- The most memorable gift from childhood is my first full set of All-Star catchers gear. I was a bit (of a) catcher growing up and I can still picture my excitement to today. My dad had it all packed up in the All-Star bag, the shin guards loaded up with knee savers ready to go.

Brown- My older sister bought me a dog (Charlie Brown) as an early Christmas present in 2007.  Something that I will never forget. 

 

-Do you recall finding out the truth about Santa and is there a story that goes with it?

Morandini- I just remember hearing my mom and brother getting everything put out under the tree while they thought I was sleeping.

Pipkin- I realized Santa wasn't real when we found our Christmas gifts in the garage when I was like eight years old but I wasn't upset about it.

Miller- I was able to figure out the truth about Santa myself.  I just used reasoning to realize there was no way some guy could go around the world on one night and get every kid's gifts to them.

Kroon- Santa still sneaks his way down my chimney every Christmas Eve. I grew up in a family with a very passionate belief in Santa Clause and I look forward to the present that I hope he drops off each and every year.

Brown- Well, Jay, the truth is that Santa is still delivering presents under my tree each year.  Always trying to get on that nice list.  


Previous editions of this survey include answers from Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, Adam Haseley, Scott Kingery, Logan O'Hoppe, and loads of others.  

Those editions of this delightful Christmas questionnaire can be viewed at the following links- 2019 holiday survey, 2018 survey, 2017 survey, 2016 survey, 2015 survey, 2014 survey, 2013 edition, 2012 edition, 2011 edition and the 2010 edition

Sunday, December 20, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: LHP Erik Miller talks missed season, Instructs, repertoire, O'Hoppe

Erik Miller, image- MiLB.com
Lefty hurler Erik Miller is widely regarded as one of the Phillies most promising prospects.  Selected in the 4th round in last year's draft out of Stanford, he quickly made an impact as a professional and was promoted twice in his brief stint in the minors.

At three levels as a 21-year-old, Miller notched a 1-0 record with a 1.50 ERA, a .188 batting average against, a 1.11WHIP along with a 13.0 K/9 mark in 11 appearances in the minors.  

Listed at six-feet-five, 240-pounds, Miller was outstanding in college as well.  In his junior season (2019), Miller was named as a Baseball America second team Preseason All-American. In 16 starts that season, he posted an 8-3 record with a 3.48 ERA, a .224 batting average against and an 11.1 K/9 mark.  

Miller likely could have made it to the Double-A level this year, if the pandemic had not preempted the minor league season.

Recently, I spoke with the 22-year-old Missouri native about his time at the fall Instructional League this year, his missed season and more.  Read ahead for that interview.

-What can you share about the missed 2020 campaign? How did you stay game ready in case the minor league season re-started?

2020 was obviously a very tough year to be a minor leaguer. Everyone had to deal with it in different ways based on what was available to them. I was fortunate enough to have a place to throw and lift the entire time. I stayed on top of throwing during the pandemic and tried to treat it as if I was throwing during a normal season. For example getting off a mound 2 times a week, one being a bullpen and one being a live session against hitters. 

-How did you try to make sure it wasn't time wasted once it was clear there'd be no minor league season?

Once it was clear the minor season was not happening I tried to maintain the same throwing schedule to simulate a season as much as possible. I needed to make sure I treated my arm as similar as possible to a normal season to ensure I’d be healthy in 2021. From there it was just a constant process of trying to refine and build upon things from my 2019 season. 

-What's your pitch repertoire these days and does that differ from what it was before you were drafted?

My pitch repertoire is different now from when I was drafted because I split my breaking ball into two distinct pitches. I used to throw what I called a slurve, and I now throw a slider and curve ball. When I started throwing early in 2020 my slurve had changed into a cutter-type pitch. With the movement profile of my fastball I need a pitch with vertical break, thus I started to throw a curve ball. I think with more work my curve ball and slider will become true weapons for me. In total I throw a four-seam, change, curve and slider. 

To read the complete version of this interview, in which Miller shares his thoughts on participating in Instructs, teammate Logan O'Hoppe, and plenty more, check out my Patreon page located at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz and support my work.  Membership there will get you access to loads of exclusive material and you'll get other material early.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: LHP Garrett Cleavinger talks about his 2020, big league call up, more

Cleavinger, image- Jay Floyd

This post originally appeared on my Patreon page at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.  Readers can support my work and gain access to exclusive interviews and news along with the ability to read my other material early.  Please consider supporting my work and checking out that page. 

Lefty reliever Garrett Cleavinger made his big league debut with the Phillies this year and hopes to continue his career as a big league contributor in the coming seasons.  

Cleavinger, a third round draft pick of the Orioles in 2015, was acquired by the Phillies in 2017 in a swap for pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.  

In his more than five professional seasons, the Oregon product sports a 19-12 record, a 4.08 ERA, a .217 batting average against and a 12.0 K/9 mark in 140 minor league appearances.  

This year in his lone big league outing, the 26-year-old tossed 2/3 inning, surrendered an earned run and struck out one batter. 

Recently, I talked with Garrett to get his insight on his promotion to the Phils, what he'll be working on this off-season, which team staffer has helped him the most in his career and much more.  Read ahead for that complete interview...

-So can you share some thoughts on your call up to join the big league roster this year?

The call up was pretty unique this year just with the COVID restrictions and like family and friends couldn’t be there so it was kind of weird for sure.

-Inclusion in the taxi squad group...to that point, did the call to be included there kind of have the feeling of a promotion or call up?

The taxi squad was fun, we had a good group of guys that made it competitive everyday. I kind of knew I was going to be on the taxi squad because I was added to the 40 man roster.

-Who has been a big help to you in the Phillies organization, in relation to coaches or teammates? 

Aaron Fultz has probably been the biggest help to me.  I’ve been lucky to be around him for parts of three seasons and he’s someone who I really like being around. He was the one who introduced a slider to my pitch repertoire and so now it’s fastball, curveball, slider and a little of a change up.

-In those taxi squad games, did you get to face any of the coaches that filled in? What was that like? 

I never had any coaches hit off me in the taxi squad games but they played the field behind me quite a bit and it was a lot of fun! So many of those guys played at the highest level and so it’s fun for them to get out there again and fun for us to play with them.

-Any big plans for the off-season? 

Biggest goal for the off-season is to get strong and be in the best shape possible for spring so I can win a job in the bullpen.

-How has your family done with the pandemic? Fortunate enough to remain healthy and employed?

Family has been doing well, safe and healthy.

-A couple people commented on the recent Instagram post of you I had, saying you resemble pro wrestler and MMA fighter Jake Hager. Do you know who that is and have you heard that before?

I haven’t heard of that comparison before.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Winter League Updates

I've got a quick rundown here of how some Phillies players are performing in the off-season/Winter leagues that are underway so far.  Keep in mind that, down under, the Australian Baseball League kicks off later this month and that league is jam packed with Phils.  The Puerto Rico League is set to start action this week.

Darick Hall, image- Jay Floyd
In Mexico, first baseman Darick Hall is ripping up the opposition.  In 10 games, he's posted a .324/.409/.595 slash line.  The 25-year-old lefty slugger has a double, three homers and 16 RBI to date for Los Mochis.  Hall, a 14th round pick in 2016 out of Dallas Baptist, has reportedly been playing some left field in Mexico.

In the Dominican Republic, for Licey, RHP Adonis Medina has appeared in two games.  In three innings of work, the 23-year-old has allowed four hits and two earned runs while striking out three and walking two.  Also with Licey, Enyel De Los Santos has also appeared in a pair of games.  He has notched 1 2/3 scoreless frames while striking out three, walking two and hitting one batter.  The 24-year-old appeared in five games with the big league Phils in 2019.  

Former Phillies prospects Ulises Joaquin and Alfredo Simon are also on the Licey pitching staff.

Outfielder/first baseman Austin Listi made his debut this weekend with Licey in the DR.  He played first base and went 1-for-3 with a walk and was caught stealing.  The 27-year-old was the Phils' 17th round pick in 2017 and was a college teammate of Hall at DBU.

In DR, Ramon Rosso is competing with the Aguilas.  In five appearances, the 24-year-old righty 1-0 with a 0.47 ERA.  He's struck out 20 and walked three in 19 innings.

The rest of this post, which includes information about Daniel Brito, Raul Rivas, Leonel Aponte, Cristopher Sanchez, Johan Quezada and others, can be found on my Patreon page at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.  Supporters get exclusive content including interviews and news, plus early access to my other material.  This statistics from this article are as of Sunday, December 6th, 2020.

Monday, November 23, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: OF Matt Vierling talks Instructs & more

Matt Vierling, image- Jay Floyd
I invite you to check out my Patreon page, where you can read exclusive interviews and get early access to other posts, news and information from the Phillies minor league levels.

Phillies prospect Matt Vierling was among the minor leaguers that participated in this year's Florida Instructional League, which an annual series of exhibitions and training with team coaches.

While there, Vierling, an outfielder, got a chance to add first base to his skill set.  

In two pro seasons in his career, the 5th round draft choice out of Notre Dame in 2018 sports a .263 average with 12 HR, 72 RBI and 29 stolen bases.  He spent the 2019 campaign with Class A Advanced Clearwater and likely would have opened this year with Double-A Reading if the season had taken place.

Recently, I talked with Matt about his time at Instructs, trying first base, how his family has done in the face of the pandemic and more.  Read ahead for that interview.  

-What was your experience like at Instructs this year?

My experience at Instructs was a good one. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there getting back on the field.  After being gone for about six months,  it was refreshing and satisfying to finally get playing again.

-I know you got some time playing first base.  Who got that in motion and who worked with you at adjusting to the new position?

That's true, I did work at first base. It was mostly my idea. I brought  the idea up to Marty Malloy, who coached me my previous two seasons. So we decided that I could get some work over at 1st base during extra work. Shawn Williams, Marty Malloy, Andy Abad and Chris Truby all helped  me learn the position, but Shawn Williams worked with me the most over  there. I am not sure if I will (play there again), but I would love to get more work over there, as I feel like the more positions I can play can only help me.

-What has been the most important thing you learned in 2020?

Biggest thing I learned in 2020 is to not take anything for granted. I specifically mean baseball and health here. Being gone from the game and  having it taken away from you sucks. But getting back out on the field  made me realize how much I missed the competition and the camaraderie.  And my family being healthy is a blessing and something I am especially grateful for as well.


To read the complete version of this interview, visit my Patreon page at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz and support my work. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Randolph among many Phillies minor leaguers set for ABL action

Cornelius Randolph, image- Jay Floyd
On Sunday, the Adelaide Giants of the Australian Baseball League announced that Phillies outfield prospect Cornelius Randolph will be part of their team for the coming season.

Supporters of my Patreon site were aware of that news nine days ago.  

The 23-year-old Georgia native was the Phils' first round draft selection in 2015.  In his five minor league seasons, Randolph sports a .255 batting average with 31 home runs, 190 RBI and a .719 OPS.  

Randolph's 2018 and 2019 seasons were spent playing for Double-A Reading.

Randolph will join several other Phils prospects on the Giants roster this coming season, including native Australians Rixon Wingrove and Mitchell Edwards as well as New Zealander Kyle Glogoski.  A list of seven other American Phillies prospects set to be part of the Adelaide roster is available by supporting my work over at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.  

Also available on the Patreon page is a recent exclusive interview with outfielder Matt Vierling talking about his time at Instructs and getting some time at first base.

Pitcher Luke Leftwich is already in Australia preparing for his ABL season as a member of the Melbourne Aces.  He'll be joined on that club by familiar faces like hurler Josh Tols, catcher Chris Burke and infielder Damek Tomscha. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: RHP Dom Pipkin talks Instructs & more

Dom Pipkin, image- Jay Floyd
Righty pitcher Dominic Pipkin spent the 2019 season with the Class A BlueClaws.  In 24 appearances he tallied a 3-4 record with a 5.15 ERA, a 1.62 WHIP along with a .261 batting average against.

Pipkin was a 9th round draft selection in 2018 and is among the organization's most promising hurlers.

This week I spoke with the 21-year-old (his birthday is today!) California native about his time at Fall Instructs and more.  Read ahead for that interview.

-What can you share about the benefits of Fall Instructs this year following a cancelled regular season?  

Instructs after a cancelled season allowed the few players that went to  get live reps in after 6 months of nothing, it was good to get the rust  off and feel that first inning jitter again.

-Did you or other players there go harder during your month at Instructs as opposed to a regular fall exhibition schedule that follows an action-packed regular season?

We definitely tried a little harder for the short month we had, just  because we were excited to be back, finally. I know that’s why I tried  harder.

-I know you guys played some weekend exhibitions against the Toronto prospects.  How often were the intrasquad games?

We played a game every day some days it would be three innings and others a full nine.

-Were you satisfied with the efforts you had during games?

I’m satisfied with my performance, it could have been better but after 6 months of nothing I didn’t have my bar set too high.
 
-How would you say you benefited from Instructs this year?

I think this years instructs helped me develop my pitch arsenal a little bit more, find a “power slider” compared to my loopy one.

-Who helped with refining the slider?

I worked on the slider mostly with Brad Bergesen, AKA Viper, but our goal  was to have a distinguished difference between the slider and curve ball  to play off the running fastball and change up.

-How has your family dealt with the pandemic?  Has everyone stayed healthy and maintained employment?

My family dealt with the pandemic pretty well they all stayed employed and healthy.

 

...To check out the rest of this interview in which Dom talks about if he'll pitch in any off-season leagues, the most important thing he learned in 2020, The Mandolorian and other topics, visit my Patreon page, at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz, and support my work.  You'll gain access to loads of exclusive content and get virtually all of my other content early. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Phillies' Bohm among finalists for Rookie of the Year Award

In news that likely surprised nobody, Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that Phillies first baseman/third baseman Alec Bohm is among the finalists for this year's National League Rookie of the Year Award.  

Bohm, who entered the 2020 season as the Phillies top-ranked offensive prospect, performed extremely well following his promotion to the big league's from the club's alternate training site.  In 44 games the 24-year-old tallied a .338 batting average with four home runs and 23 RBI.  The average and RBI total ranked first among all NL rookies, as did his on base percentage (.400), slugging percentage (.481) and hits total (54).  

Impressive in clutch situations, Bohm notched a .452 batting average with runners in scoring position, which was best in baseball.  Even more outstanding, the talented youngster struck out just four times in those situations.

The six-foot-five 225 pounder was the Phils' first round draft selection out of Wichita State in 2018.

Other finalists for the NL ROY Award are San Diego infielder Jake Cronenworth, who slashed .285/.354/.477 this season as well as Milwaukee hurler Devin Williams, who sported a 0.33 ERA, a 0.63 WHIP along with a 17.7 K/9 mark in 22 relief appearances.  The winner of the NL Rookie of the Year Award will be announced on Monday, November 9th.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

BlueClaws re-brand as Jersey Shore

The BlueClaws has long claimed to be the Jersey Shore's baseball team and on Wednesday they made it official, as the Phillies' Class A affiliate re-branded itself.  Changing their name from the Lakewood BlueClaws to the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, the team made the announcement at Asbury Park's Convention Hall.

Per a release from the team:

"This is truly a banner day for the BlueClaws and the Jersey Shore,” said Art Matin, managing partner of Shore Town Baseball, the partnership that operates the BlueClaws. “Shore Town Baseball has added a mini golf course, boardwalk game area, and Biergarten to FirstEnergy Park over the last several seasons to help bring the ‘Shore feeling’ to the ballpark. The Jersey Shore BlueClaws is the natural next step. We couldn’t be more excited.”

While the club keeps its nickname of the BlueClaws, they unveiled new logos, updated caps and a fresh home uniform.

Image via BlueClaws

Ironically, I have talked to many players over the years that have come to New Jersey for the first time in their lives, upon being assigned to play with the 'Claws, with their only knowledge of the state being from the MTV reality show "Jersey Shore".

Also announced on Wednesday, the team has exercised a 10-year team option on the FirstEnergy Park lease with the Township of Lakewood.  

The BlueClaws were set to celebrate their 20th season in Lakewood this year, before the entire minor league schedule was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  

In their 19 seasons, the team has won the South Atlantic League championship three times, in 2006, 2009 and 2010.  

I invite you to check out my Patreon page, where you can read exclusive interviews and get early access to other posts, news and information from the Phillies minor league levels.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: Connor Hinchliffe answers Nine Silly-ass Questions

Connor Hinchliffe, image- GoExplorers.com
I invite you to check out my Patreon page, where you can read exclusive interviews and get early access to other posts, news and information from the Phillies minor league levels.

Promising pitcher Connor Hinchliffe took time to answer questions for me recently, providing insight on how he has dealt with missing the full 2020 season due to the global coronavirus pandemic.  While I was interacting with the Pottsville, PA native, he also responded to some non-baseball related inquiries, answering Nine Silly-ass Questions for me.

Signed as an undrafted free agent last year out of LaSalle, Hinchliffe was assigned to the Rookie level Gulf Coast League where, in 16 outings, the right-hander posted a 1-1 record, a save, a 1.82 ERA, a .163 batting average against along with a 1.26 WHIP.

Read ahead for my latest interview with Connor as we talk hard-hitting topics such as Star Wars, Halloween costumes and music!

-Who is your favorite non-baseball athlete?

Bryson DeChambeau. I have been following him recently and how he is changing the game of golf. Golf is a sport that has rich traditions, much like baseball and going against them usually has some backlash. He is starting to train and play golf using analytics and non-traditional training (like baseball) which is fun to observe.

-Who is the best character from Star Wars?

Darth Vader. I think the movies wouldn’t be what they are without a legendary villain. Darth Vader is a very cool and interesting character throughout all of the movies. 

-Do you have a favorite Halloween costume from your youth?
 
My favorite Halloween costume has to be White Goodman. Dodgeball came out when I was maybe 7 or 8 and my whole friend group went as the Purple Cobras. 

-Seeds or gum?  And what flavor?
 
Seeds. If I had to pick one flavor I’d pick cracked pepper. We haven’t had baseball in a while, but since my senior year I actually started to eat pistachios during the games rather than seeds. Big fan. 

-Who is the coolest teammate you have with the Phillies?
 
The coolest teammate I have has to be Andrick Nava, AKA “The Poison”. I walked by his locker one day and he actually had seven boxes of custom Nike’s with his nickname on them. Very Show.

-What track you bumpin'?
 
I’m always bumpin’ a variety of music. My playlists range from the '70's to now. Lots of rock, alternative rock, pop, rap, and even some country. I am not a country fan but some songs are starting to grow on me. 

-What is a food that you hear people like, but deep down you know they are wrong and it truly sucks?
 
Hands down sauerkraut. I mean read that word.  How could any one actually like it? The name of it doesn’t even sound good. I can’t imagine someone eating that without a gun to their head. It smells awful. 

-Tell me a word that rhymes with your favorite curse word?
 
Hit!

-Have you watched The Boys on Amazon Prime yet?  If so, talk about how great it is.  If not, how soon can I provide you with a bootlegged log-in, so you can watch it?
 
I have watched The Boys. I’ve been on it since it released last year and now watching season two every Friday. The show it’s very unique and I appreciate that. I’m a huge fan of super hero movies in general, so I like how they have super heroes, but it’s not actually about their powers. It’s about satirizing their personalities and, a lot of the time, how they are corrupt.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Notes from Phils fall instructs

Subscribers of my Patreon site have gotten some details from the Phillies' Fall Instructs in recent days.  

The Florida Instructional League is an annual month-long off-season combine that will feature workouts as well as practices and regularly pits players from different organizations against one another in exhibition games.  This year's version in a pandemic impacted world won't see different teams facing one another, but the Phillies' players will see exhibition competition, as the organization is slated to have some intrasquad games in the coming weeks.

Players that are currently in Clearwater, FL seeing some long overdue time on the field include this year's first round draft selection Mick Abel.  The high school hurler inked a deal for over $4 million dollars after  being taken with the 15th overall pick in June.

Francisco Morales, image- Jay Floyd
Highly touted Venezuelan pitcher Francisco Morales is also in attendance.  The 20-year-old right-hander entered the 2020 season as the organization's 3rd ranked prospect.  He competed at Class A Lakewood last season and would have been part of the Class A Advanced Clearwater staff to open the season this year, if the season would have happened.  

Righty Joel Cesar is also in Clearwater.  He's the player-to-be-named-later that the Phils acquired from the Pirates in the deal for Austin Davis.  The 24-year-old has pitched as high as the Double-A Eastern League, with Altoona, in 2019.

Other well known pitchers participating in Phils fall instructs include Bailey Falter, Nick Fanti, Erik Miller, Dom Pipkin, Ben Brown and Jack Perkins.  

Outfielder Matt Vierling, who saw some action with the big league club in spring training this year, is in attendance.  Vierling, a Notre Dame product, was the Phillies' 5th round draft pick in 2018.  The righty batting 24-year-old would have been part of the Double-A Reading Fightins this year.  

Simon Muzziotti, Jhailyn Ortiz, Johan Rojas and Baron Radcliffe are also among the outfielders taking part in instructs.  

Promising infielders Kendall Simmons, Luis Garcia, Jamari Baylor and Jonathan Guzman are all in attendance as well.

Edgar Cabral, Herbert Iser and Andrick Nava are among the catchers present.

For the complete roster of players, have a look at my instructs post over on Patreon.  Subscribers get access to exclusive interviews and early access to other news and notes from the Phillies developmental ranks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: Connor Hinchliffe talks cancelled 2020 season

LaSalle University product Connor Hinchliffe was a noteworthy acquisition in the Phillies' developmental ranks last year when he posted standout numbers after signing as an undrafted free agent.  

In 16 appearances in the Rookie level Gulf Coast League last year, the right-hander notched a 1-1 record, a save, a 1.82 ERA, a .163 batting average against as well as a 1.26 WHIP.

Last week I talked with Connor, who is not in attendance for the Phils' Fall Instructional League in Florida, about missing an entire year of competing, how he's staying in shape and more.  Read ahead for that interview.  

-How has the year been for you?  Staying healthy?  

My year has been great despite everything going on.  Feeling great.  

-Have you been able to find any silver lining in this missed 2020 season?

COVID has impacted the lives of many since its arrival. For myself, it meant a lost year of playing time with the Phillies. While it is true I won’t get this year back, that does not mean it was lost. This time off has given me so much insight in how I approach training and getting better as an athlete, on and off the field. It has given me time to develop my abilities and further my knowledge of the game.

The complete version of this interview can be viewed over on my Patreon page.  Supporters of my work on Patreon get access to exclusive interviews plus early access to features and news.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Series Preview: Phillies at Rays, 9/25- 9/27

The Phillies enter the final weekend of the regular season clinging to postseason hopes as they travel to St. Petersburg to take on the American League East Division champion Rays in a three-game set.

Losers of six of their last 10 games, the Phillies urgently need wins in order to qualify for the expanded 16-team playoff format.  The enter the weekend 1/2 game behind Miami for second place in the National League East and they trail San Francisco by 1/2 game for the last NL Wild Card spot.   

Read ahead for a rundown of the pitching match ups and other key statistics for this series.


Friday, 6:40pm.  Vince Velasquez (1-1, 5.46 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (2-2, 4.64 ERA).  Velasquez notched a win in his last outing against the Blue Jays, going six innings while allowing one earned run on two hits.  Velasquez is averaging 12.1 K/9 in eight appearances this season.  Velasquez has allowed eight earned runs in 8 2/3 innings on the road this season.  Since his first start of the season in which Morton allowed six earned runs over four innings of work, the former Phillie has tallied a 3.41 ERA.  In 24 career starts at Tropicana Field, Morton has posted a 3.24 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP.  Bryce Harper is 4-for-8 with a home run and four RBI in his career when facing the right-handed Morton.

Saturday, 7:07pm.  Zack Wheeler (4-1, 2.67 ERA) vs. Ryan Yarbrough (1-4, 3.78 ERA).  In four road starts this year, Wheeler has a 1-1 record with a 3.28 ERA.  Yarbrough, a lefty, has a 1-1 record and a 4.03 ERA in four home appearances this season.  Didi Gregorius is 1-for-7 in his career against Yarbrough.

Sunday, 3:10pm.  Aaron Nola (5-4, 3.06 ERA) vs. To be determined.  In five road appearances this season, Nola has posted a 2-3 record with a 3.86 ERA.  Hunter Renfroe is 3-for-7 with two doubles and two walks in his career against Nola.  Through his 11 starts, Nola is averaging 12.0 K/9 this season.  

First baseman Rhys Hoskins remains on the injured list with a left UCL strain.  It's possible he could return if the Phillies reach the postseason. In 41 games this year, Hoskins tallied a .245 average with 10 homers and 26 RBI.

In 24 road games this year, Andrew McCutchen sports a .300 average with four homers and 15 RBI.  McCutchen has a .455 average in nine career games against the Rays.

In 75 career games against the Rays, Gregorius has a .192 average.  In 25 road games, Gregorius has a .256/.316/.442 slash line.  

Rookie third baseman/first baseman Alec Bohm ranks first among National League rookies this year in batting average (.333) and RBI (22).  He also leads the NL in hits this month with 35. 

Second baseman Brandon Lowe leads the Rays in batting average (.274), home runs (14) and RBI (36).  The lefty hitter was the 3rd round draft selection of the Rays in 2015. 

With a .754 mark the Rays rank 13th in MLB in OPS.  At .791, the Phils are 6th in MLB with team OPS.  

The Phillies' 7.17 bullpen ERA ranks worst in the majors this year while the Rays' 3.50 mark is 4th best in MLB.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Catching prospect Marchan makes big league debut

Rafael Marchan, image- Jay Floyd
With an injury to J.T. Realmuto, the Phillies were forced to call up a promising young prospect to fill a void on the big league roster.  

In his big league debut on Monday at Miami, Rafael Marchan went 1-for-3, as he singled in his first at bat to notch his first hit in the majors.

Marchan, 21, was ranked at the Phils' number 16 prospect heading into the 2020 season.   

Signed in the same off-season that the Phils dished out a $4 million signing bonus to outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz, Marchan inked a deal for a reported bargain price of $200,000, as a 16-year-old in 2015.

Last year, Marchan, a native of Venezuela, played much of the season with Class A Lakewood.  In 63 games, he tallied a .271 batting average with 16 doubles and 20 RBI.  He would miss a few weeks with an injury in May, but bounced back to complete the season, earning a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater at the end of July.

Wrapping up his 2019 campaign as a member of the Threshers, the switch-hitting Marchan posted a .231 batting average with four doubles and three RBI in 22 games. 

Coaches feel Marchan's defense is a major key to his game.  He's known for his strong arm and quick release behind the dish.  His upside is a big reason that Phillies were comfortable removing Deivi Grullon from their 40-man roster and letting him go to the Red Sox for nothing when they claimed him off waivers.  

Realmuto is sidelined with an upper leg/hip issue.  The 29-year-old told media members that he felt a pop and clicking in the area while running late in the Phils' game on Saturday. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Phillies at Marlins series preview: 9/10- 9/14

Much is being made of the Phillies' upcoming seven-game series at Miami.  A potentially season-defining weekend that will feature two separate double-headers pit the Phils (21-18) against their pesky division rival, the germ sharing Marlins (19-19).

The teams will meet for a lengthy series due to both clubs missing considerable time after the Marlins dealt with a coronavirus outbreak when the season got underway in July and the Phillies were the last team they faced.  

If the Phillies can't secure a series win against a Marlins team that is in the midst of a rebuild, media types and baseball fans alike have been critical in stating that the big-budget Phils (2020 team salary was slated to be 6th highest in the big leagues while Miami was set to be fourth lowest) likely won't have a place in the postseason.  

Read ahead for a rundown of the pitching match ups as well as some key statistics from this series. 

Thursday, 6:40pm.  Jake Arrieta (3-4, 5.67 ERA) vs. Sandy Alcantara (2-1, 3.78 ERA).  In four road starts this year, Arrieta has a 2-2 record with a 4.22 ERA.  In 11 career starts against the Marlins, Arrieta sports an 8-1 record with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.  Corey Dickerson is 6-for-14 (.429 avg) in his career when facing Arrieta.  The righty, Alcantara, turned 25 years old over the weekend.  In five career starts against the Phils, Alcantara has a 4-1 record with a 2.51 ERA.  Alcantara missed roughly a month of the season following a positive COVID-19 test in July.

Friday, double header with game 1 slated for 5:10pm.  Rookie right-hander Spencer Howard is expected to pitch in one of these games.  It's unclear which hurler would start the other contest for the Phillies.  Howard holds a 1-2 record with a 5.66 ERA in five big league starts this year.  The 24-year-old was the Phils' 2nd round draft selection in 2017.  Aaron Nola last pitched on Sunday the 6th...throwing on Friday would be his turn on normal rest.  On the season, Nola has a 4-3 record with a 2.74 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP.  Nola is 3-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 14 career starts against the Marlins. 

Saturday, 6:10pm.  Zack Wheeler (4-0, 2.47 ERA) vs. Jose Urena (0-0, 5.40 ERA).  Wheeler, a 30-year-old righty, has no decisions with a 3.46 ERA in a pair of road starts this year.  In 15 career starts against Miami, Wheeler has posted an 8-3 record with a 1.87 ERA.  Urena has made just one start this season after missing time due to COVID-19.  Saturday will mark Urena's 29th birthday.  Urena has a 4.38 ERA in 68 career appearances at Marlins Park.  In 17 career appearances (12 starts) against the Phillies, Urena sports a 3-5 record with a 4.27 ERA.  

Sunday, double header with game 1 slated for 1:10pm.  Tentative starters for game 1...Zach Eflin (2-1, 4.58 ERA) vs. Sixto Sanchez (2-1, 1.80 ERA).  Eflin has a 6.33 ERA in five career starts at Marlins Park.  In nine starts against the Marlins, Eflin sports a 5-2 record with a 4.19 ERA.  Sanchez, a former Phillies prospect that was dealt to Miami in the swap for JT Realmuto, has been one of baseball's most exciting rookie performers.  Through four starts, Sanchez has a 2-1 record with a 1.80 ERA and has struck out 25 and walked just two over 25 innings.  He also sports triple-digit velocity numbers with his fastball. 

Monday, 4:10pm.  Righty Vince Velasquez may be tabbed to take this start for the Phillies.  In his last appearance, Velasquez struck out nine, walked none and allowed two earned runs in five innings against the Red Sox.  Velasquez has a 6.10 ERA in seven career games against the Marlins.

Since August 22nd when Bryce Harper last homered, he's 7-for-49 (.143 avg) in 15 games.  In 134 games against Miami, Harper sports a .292 average with 29 home runs and 95 RBI.  

In 26 career games at Marlins Park Andrew McCutchen is a .340 hitter with five homers and 21 RBI.  

Didi Gregorius has a .293/.384/.547 slash line in 21 career games against the Marlins.  

Former Phils lefty pitching prospect Brandon Leibrandt, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018, signed with the Marlins this season and is once again sidelined with an elbow issue, described as ulnar neuritis.  The 6th round pick from 2014 appeared in five games with the Marlins.  

Catcher Jorge Alfaro is batting .180 with a home run and four RBI in 16 games this season for Miami.  Alfaro is a .462 career hitter in 10 games against the Phils.

The Phillies' .785 team OPS ranks 7th best in MLB.  The Marlins, at .700, ranked 24th heading into action on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

RHP Tyler Burch Interview Excerpts

The complete version of this post is available over on Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.

Recently, I wrote a feature on promising Phillies minor league Tyler  Burch  and his diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes.  The righty pitcher was an  undrafted free agent signing last year.  To date in 12 professional  appearances the 22-year-old holds a 4-1 record with a 1.51 ERA and an  8.6 K/9 mark.  

Included below are some excerpts from my  discussion with Tyler in which he offers his thoughts on his own  pitching repertoire, minor league teammates Logan  O'Hoppe and Albertus  Barber, college pal Connor Brogdon and more.

Chatting about developing his pitch repertoire from college to the minors...

I throw a  four-seam, two-seam, slider, change up.  It's kind of a slurve, it's not  a true slider, but it has a little depth in it.

It was more so tweaking my grips to make them more effective.  Hector Berios, the  pitching coach in Williamsport, we worked super hard that summer to work  on my slider and tighten up my change up.  I mean with him we worked so  hard on my pitches every single day. Worked on my mechanics.  In  college I was all upperbody.  I didn't even use my legs.  I sat 90-92  and in pro ball I was 93-94 with more movement on my off-speed and it  was a huge turnaround.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: Jimmy Smith on his March on Washington experience

For an extended version of this interview, please consider supporting my work by subscribing to my Patreon page.  Members get exclusive interviews and early access to my other work.
Jimmy Smith, image- Jay Floyd

Former Phillies minor leaguer Jimmy Smith, along with some family, participated in the recent March on Washington and spoke about his experience at the event and what it meant to him to be there.  The march, set up by Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network, was designed as a way for citizens to stand up to racial injustices in our country.

Prior to his release by the Phillies last year, the Central Washington University product tallied a .250/.305/.337 slash line at two levels. 

Read ahead for my interview with Jimmy.

 -Why was it important to you to be present for this Commitment March, as it was called?

It was the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" speech. Growing up, my parents shared how impactful the original March on Washington was, so I couldn’t pass the opportunity to take a stand and use my voice. 
 
One day I hope to share the stories with my children of what I saw and felt that day as proud black man. 

-I don't recall you residing anywhere close to DC, where the march took place.  Did you have to travel for this?
 
I currently live across the country in Southern California but I was born in Washington DC. I grew up within 10 miles of about 11 aunties and uncles and about twice as many cousins, so I have very fond memories of growing up in the city. My older sister and most aunties and uncles still live there so whenever I come back it feels like coming home. 

-Who joined you for the march?
 
At the March I was with my sister and best friend. I met my sister in the city and my friend flew out a few days after. 

-Did you make the impact you hoped for or was the goal to have the experience impact you?
 
I definitely felt like it was an impactful and historical day. I saw the most diverse group of people imaginable out there speaking up for injustice across the nation.

-What did you see or do that was expected and what did you see or do that surprised you?
 
The actual March itself was an incredible experience. The tone was strong and incredibly focused, so I was pleasantly surprised to see law enforcement watch and stand alongside many of the folks just looking to walk along. 
 
Over the past year or two we’ve all seen horrific images from New York, Portland, Hong Kong, of police using brutal unwarranted force against protestors. I was surprised at how constructive peaceful protests can be when done without violence from anyone.  (Those are) the driving principle of Dr. King’s original message.

-For people that don't recognize or acknowledge what Black Lives Matter stands for or for people that try to argue against it in some way, what would you want to tell them?
 
I’d want to tell them that Black Lives Matter isn’t simply a “political statement” or a hashtag. Anyone that argues against it needs to understand this isn’t a competition, it’s not black people versus the police. It’s a movement acknowledged by any person that can understand that killing humans because of their ethnicity, sexuality, or appearance is unacceptable and truly unjust. Just so happens this country has a history of hunting African Americans since its inception.
 
-Personally, I feel as though law enforcement training could be refined with a focus on less lethal force.  What else would you like to see done to address the things going on?
 
One crucial thing I believe must happen for this to move forward is qualified immunity must come to an end. My cousin was an excellent officer when she was in the force. One of my close friends father was an officer. I’ve met a few guys in college that I believe to be some of the best men for the job. I believe for the ones who aren’t fit to wear the badge, we must make sure that they are met with equal or more substantial penalties than regular citizens because they have been entrusted to protect the people. A slap in the wrist for murder is unjust.

-What else can you share about the march?
 
The march was unforgettable and I would encourage any of those that are able to safely, go and take a stand for what you believe in. Do not be afraid by the images you see on the news, they don’t fully represent the entirety of the movement or experiences you can have.

The complete version of this interview can be viewed on my Patreon page.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Phillies minor leaguer Burch to use health scare as fuel

Tyler Burch, image- MiLB.com

I invite you to visit Patreon.com/PhoulBallzin order to support my work and get access to exclusive interviews plus early access to features and news such as this.

A missed baseball season wasn't the only challenge facing righty pitcher Tyler Burch this summer.  

With persistent symptoms that began prior to spring training it was ultimately discovered, after the 2020 season was shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, that the 22-year-old had developed an autoimmune disease.  

As symptoms that included dry mouth and frequent trips to the bathroom worsened, Burch's situation left his doctor puzzled.  And even the physician that conducted his team physical examination at the outset of spring training jokingly referenced diabetes, but did not take the possibility seriously.   

The physical impacts subsided somewhat during spring training, as being more active and adhering to the team diet helped alleviate what he was experiencing.

Once the baseball season was halted, however, Burch returned home and the health concerns would emerge once again. 

"I went home because of COVID, and the symptoms came back," Burch explained.  "I'm thirsty all the time, going to the bathroom, super fatigued-- I thought I was going to the bathroom a lot because I was drinking so much water, so the doctor prescribed me some mouth wash to deal with my dry mouth and that didn't go away."

It took multiple doctor visits to diagnose Burch with type 1 diabetes, an issue where the cells that produce insulin are attacked by the body's immune system.  A blood sugar level under 140 is normal.  One day in June, Burch's levels spiked into the 400's.

A three-night stay in the hospital was the first big step in helping the six-foot-two 190-pound professional hurler get his health on the correct path.

"It was a huge lifestyle change.  I have to think about every meal choice.  I have to count the amount of carbs in it.  And I give myself about four to five shots a day of insulin to regulate my blood sugar," Burch stated.

An undrafted free agent signing out of Lewis-Clark State in Idaho in 2019, Burch made his professional debut last summer as a member of the Phillies' Class A short-season affiliate, the Williamsport Crosscutters.  In 12 appearances (four starts), the Idaho native tallied a 4-1 record with a save, a 1.51 ERA, a .225 batting average against as well as an 8.6 K/9 mark.

Burch credits his parents and his girlfriend for assisting him with adapting to his lifestyle changes.  He feels that being at home while dealing with the health concerns was beneficial to his ability to approach them.  Being away from home while struggling with the physical challenges and mental stress would have made things far more difficult, he feels.

"I'm not saying that I am happy that my season was cancelled, but the fact that I was home made this a little bit less stressful than having a season where I'm playing and losing innings and having to deal with all this without my family." 

"I want to play baseball.  But that fact that I am home has made this process a little bit easier," Burch said. 

As the weeks have gone by since the hospital stay, Burch has gotten better at the work involved with managing his diet.  From needing an hour just to prepare a meal, the knowledge of carbohydrate content, portions and more are becoming second nature to the talented pitcher.  He's now able to more swiftly fuel himself.

Burch proclaims that he's fully healthy now that he's gotten a proper diagnosis and a handle on how to cope with the hurdles.

A college teammate of Phillies rookie reliever Connor Brogdon, Burch is planning to work as a coach for the Lewis-Clark State Warriors while he's on his down time from minor league baseball.  He will have access to the team's facilities and various battery mates in order to get his work in and stay mound-ready.

"It's an amazing program there and I'm so fortunate to be able to have gone through it and to be able to give back," Burch said.  "It's definitely a brotherhood.  We grinded together every single day.  We all want to make it to the big leagues and I have friends from there that didn't make it to pro ball that are still rooting for me." 

Despite the support from teammates, friends and family, some of the battle to recover took place between Burch's ears.

There were times during the dietary and lifestyle transitions when, Burch admits, he felt down and wonder things such as, "Why me?"  But knowing that such a mindset couldn't be helpful, the already mentally tough athlete developed a higher level of resiliency.  

Aware that the challenges of dealing with diabetes could impede his path toward the big leagues, Burch isn't willing to allow a health related hurdle to curtail his journey.

"This can change my career in the sense that it can give me even more of a drive toward the big leagues.  So, I'm using it as a fuel for my fire to continue to work harder.  Because the cards are already stacked against me.  I mean I'm a free agent signing out of college- the odds are already not in my favor.  So, adding this on top of it I've got to work that much harder."

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Phillies at Nationals series preview, 8/25-8/27

The Phillies (10-14) will visit the Nationals (11-15) for a three-game series beginning on Tuesday evening.

Read ahead for a quick rundown of the pitching match ups and some key statistics from this series.

Tuesday, 6:05pm.  Jake Arrieta (1-3, 4.95 ERA) vs. Erick Fedde  (1-1, 2.55 ERA).  Arrieta has gone more than five innings in just one of his four starts this season.  In 16 career starts against the Nats, Arrieta has notched a 1-3 record, a 4.61 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.  Asdrubal Cabrera is 6-for-16 (.375 avg) with two homers and four RBI in his career against Arrieta.  Fedde, a right-hander, was Washington's first round draft pick in 2014.  In five appearances (four starts) against the Phillies, Fedde sports a 2-1 record with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP.  Scott Kingery is 3-for-7 with a double and a home run in his career when facing Fedde. 

Wednesday, 6:05pm.  Aaron Nola (2-2, 3.10 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (2-2, 3.99 ERA).  Nola, in 19 career starts against Washington, sports a 4-6 record with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.  Yan Gomes is 2-for-7 in his career against Nola...both of those hits are homers.  Nola has a 3.70 ERA in nine starts at Nationals Park.  In nine career starts against the Phillies, the left-handed Corbin has a 5-2 record with a 3.18 ERA along with a 1.15 WHIP.  Corbin has a 3.44 ERA in three home starts this year.  Jean Segura is 7-for-19 (.368 avg) with two doubles in his career when facing Corbin.   

Howard w/ AA Reading last year
Thursday, 6:37pm.  Spencer Howard (0-1, 6.17 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (2-1, 4.31 ERA).  The rookie right-hander Howard, the Phils' 2nd round draft pick from 2017 is still looking for his first big league win.  Howard tossed 3 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run in a no decision against Toronto in his last start.  Scherzer is without a win in four home starts this season.  In 20 career starts against the Phils, Scherzer has posted an 11-3 record with a 2.62 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.  Jay Bruce is 7-for-22 (.318 avg) with two home runs against Scherzer. 

J.T. Realmuto is batting .310 in eight road games this season but is yet to homer on the road.  In 43 career games at Nationals Park, Realmuto sports a .266 average with four home runs and 21 RBI.

In 482 career games in Washington Bryce Harper has tallied a .285/.396/.519 slash line.  Harper's 1.119 OPS leads the National League.

Rhys Hoskins is a .196 hitter with 10 home runs and 29 RBI in 44 career games against the Nats.  Hoskins is a .151 hitter in 22 games at Nationals Park.  

In eight home games this year, outfielder Juan Soto is batting .269 while in nine road games he's batting .441.  Soto has a .302 average with nine homers and 28 RBI in 31 career games against the Phillies.   

Reliever Daniel Hudson is tied for second in the NL with six saves but sports a 6.30 ERA this season.  In 16 career appearances against the Phils, the righty throwing Hudson has a 3.86 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. 

The Nationals' .264 team batting average ranks third best in the majors while the Phillies' .258 mark ranks as seventh best.   

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Phils make pair of trades, say goodbye to pair of prospects

The Phillies initiated steps to begin a necessary makeover of their troubling bullpen on Friday as the team made two trades to help improve the relief corps that had posted MLB's worst ERA (8.07) heading into action that day.

In a pair of trades, the Phillies acquired right-hander David Hale from the Yankees as well as righties Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from the Red Sox. 

Originally a 3rd round draft pick out of Princeton University by the Braves in 2009, Hale has posted a 4.23 ERA with a 6.0 K/9 mark and a 1.43 WHIP in 95 career big league appearances.  Hale had been designated for assignment recently by the Yankees.

In 195 big league games dating back to 2013 Workman has notched a 24-16 record with 20 saves, a 3.75 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.

Workman ranked first in MLB last year in opponents' xSLG (.238), which measures exit velocity and launch angle of each batted ball in an effort to remove defense and ballpark factors from the equation.  

Hembree sports a 3.60 ERA, a 9.6 K/9 mark and a 135 WHIP in his eight years in the big leagues.  

All three of the additions have experience pitching in the postseason.  

In the trades, the Phillies sent 25-year-old prospect Addison Russ, a 19th round draft pick in 2017, to the Yankees.  Going to the Red Sox are 24-year-old pitching prospect Connor Seabold and hurler Nick Pivetta.  Reportedly, Boston is also sending cash considerations to the Phillies in that swap.

Last weekend I wrote about both Russ and Seabold as possible options at the Phillies' alternate site that could soon be called upon the help the club's problematic bullpen.  It seems they've both helped, but not in the way I anticipated. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Phillies at Braves series preview: 8/21- 8/23

Another series, another preview.  The Phillies head south to take on their divisional rival Braves in a three-game series beginning Friday night.  

Atlanta at 14-11 sit atop the National League East Division.  Fresh off getting swept in a double header at the Blue Jays on Thursday, the Phillies and their 9-12 record reside at the bottom of the division.  

A brief rundown of the pitching match ups and other key notes from this series are ahead.

Friday, 7:10pm.  Aaron Nola (2-1, 2.05 ERA) vs. Max Fried (3-0, 1.24 ERA).  In 19 career starts against Atlanta, Nola has an 11-5 record with a 2.82 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.  Ronald Acuna Jr. is 7-for-22 (.318 avg) with two home runs and four RBI in his career when facing Nola.  In 2019 Nola had a 4.75 ERA in six starts against the Braves.  Fried allowed two earned runs in his first start this season and in four starts since then he has allowed just two total runs, both earned.  The lefty Fried has a 2-2 record with a 4.55 ERA in 10 career appearances (four starts) against the Phillies.  JT Realmuto is 5-for-15 with a triple, two homers and five RBI against Fried.

Saturday, 7:10pm.  Zack Wheeler (3-0, 2.81 ERA) vs. Robbie Erlin (0-0, 5.14 ERA).  In 14 career starts against Atlanta, Wheeler sports a 6-5 record, a 4.04 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP.  Freddie Freeman is 14-for-29 (.483 avg) with three doubles, two homers and seven RBI in his career against Wheeler.  Erlin previously pitched for the Pirates this season, but was claimed off waivers by the Braves.  The left-handed Erlin has a 3.00 ERA in six appearances against the Phils.  Bryce Harper is 6-for-8 (.750 avg) with a double, a triple and six RBI in his career against Erlin.

Sunday, 7:08pm.  Zach Eflin (0-1, 5.14 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (1-0, 2.35 ERA).  Acuna is 4-for-9 (.444 avg) with a homer in his career against Eflin.   In seven starts against Atlanta, Eflin has tallied a 3-3 record with a 3.66 ERA.  In nine career appearances, all in relief, against the Phillies, the righty Tomlin has a 4.00 ERA.  Didi Gregorius is 0-for-8 against Tomlin in his career.  

Rhys Hoskins, image- Jay Floyd
Rhys Hoskins is a .231 hitter with six homers and 22 RBI in 48 career games against the Braves.  Hoskins is batting .190 in 12 night games this season.  

In 82 games against the Braves, JT Realmuto has a .279 average with 15 home runs and 48 RBI.  Realmuto is batting .231 in three road games this year.  

1n 135 games against the Braves in his career, Harper has a .278 average with 33 home runs and 82 RBI.  

Catcher Travis d'Arnaud, a former Phillies prospect, is a .269 hitter with nine homers in 66 career games against the team that drafted him.  d'Arnaud was traded to Toronto in the deal that brought back Roy Halladay.  

Shortstop Dansby Swanson sports a .253 batting average with six homers and 20 RBI in 53 games against the Phillies.  

The Phillies team OPS of .800 ranks second best in the majors.  The Braves' .762 mark ranks 12th in MLB.

The Phillies' 8.07 bullpen ERA is the worst in all of MLB.  Atlanta's 3.51 bullpen ERA is 7th best in the big leagues. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Phillies at Blue Jays double header preview

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the Blue Jays are playing their home games at Buffalo's Sahlen Field, the home of Toronto's Triple-A affiliate, the Bisons.  They'll host the Phillies for a double header on Thursday afternoon.

Here's a quick rundown of the pitching match ups and some other key notes from this pairing.

Game 1, 1:05PM.  Spencer Howard (0-1, 7.88 ERA) vs. Chase Anderson (0-0, 3.00 ERA).  Howard, a righty, was the Phils' 2nd round draft selection out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo back in 2017.  In two MLB starts to date, the rookie Howard, who entered the past two seasons as the Phillies' top prospect, has notched six strike outs and three walks over eight innings.  The right-handed Anderson joined the Blue Jays this year after spending the last four seasons with the Brewers.  In six career starts against the Phils, Anderson has a 1-3 record, a 6.75 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP.  Jay Bruce is 1-for-18 (.067 avg) in his career against Anderson.  

Game 2.  Vince Velasquez (0-0, 7.88 ERA) vs. Trent Thornton (0-0, 2.25 ERA).  Velasquez allowed two earned runs over five innings during his lone career start against Toronto.  In 67 road outings, Velasquez has a 4.67 ERA.  Thornton, a right-hander, last pitched on July 27th, missing time due to elbow inflammation.  The 26-year-old was a 5th round draft pick of the Astros in 2015.  He was acquired by the Jays in 2018 in a trade for Aledmys Diaz.  Didi Gregorius is 1-for-2 with a home run against Thornton. 

In five career games against the Blue Jays, catcher J.T. Realmuto is a .400 hitter with a home run and two RBI.  

Outfielder Bryce Harper sports a .361 batting average with a homer and three RBI in nine career games against Toronto.  Harper's .349 batting average this year ranks fifth best in the National League.

Toronto slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. posted a .221/.294/.390 slash line through 20 games this season. 

Shortstop Bo Bichette, who ranks second in the American League in batting average with a .361 mark, is out of action, as a knee sprain has landed him on the injured list.  

The Phillies rank second in MLB in team OPS with an .807 mark while the Blue Jays rank 12th at .750.

The Blue Jays rank 6th in MLB with a 3.88 ERA while the Phils' 5.56 mark is 27th in the majors.