They open the season on the road against the Rangers. They finish the season at home against the Braves.
He struck out the only two batters he faced in the eighth inning in Saturday’s 6-5 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. He has allowed five hits, one run, two walks and struck out a remarkable 18 in 11 2/3 innings in his last 12 appearances.
He has been impressive as he has touched as high as 99 mph on the home radar gun. In fact, according to FanGraphs, Diekman’s average fastball velocity is third best among Phillies pitchers from 2002-13. His fastball his first two seasons in the big leagues has averaged 95.4 mph, which trails only Billy Wagner (96.7 mph) and Felix Rodriguez (95.6 mph). Wagner pitched for the Phillies from 2004-05. Rodriguez made 23 appearances for the Phillies in 2004.
Interestingly, five of the pitchers in the top 10 have pitched for the Phillies this season: B.J. Rosenberg (94.8 mph) is fourth, Phillippe Aumont (94.7 mph) is tied with Francisco Rosario for fifth, J.C. Ramirez (94.1 mph) is ninth and Luis Garcia (94.0 mph) is 10th.
And for those interested, of the 128 pitchers available to FanGraphs, former Phillies infielder John McDonald ranked last at 78.3 mph. Jamie Moyer ranked 127th with an 81.2 mph fastball.
He handed Martin one of his baseball cards, which showed his 10.64 ERA in 2000 with the Blue Jays. It is the highest ERA for any pitcher in baseball history with 50 or more innings pitched in a single season.
“He wrote a little note on his card to Ethan, to remind this kid, that, you might be taking your lumps now, but there’s a lot of good that’s going to come down the road in the future if you continue to learn, continue to have the heart to go out there,” said Rich Dubee, who announced today Martin will finish the season in the bullpen. “Ethan definitely has the heart and the mound presence.”
Right-hander Tyler Cloyd will assume Martin’s spot in the rotation the remainder of the year.
“It doesn’t really click in until Halladay came over and said, ‘Hey, do you know holds the record for highest ERA with over 50 innings pitched in the big leagues in a year?’ I said no, and he said, ‘Well, I did,’” Martin said. “Then he came and handed me the card with a 10-point-something ERA and had it highlighted. When you look at that … I’m still upset with how I’ve done, but it makes you say, OK, there’s still a chance I can still be that starter or whatever I have to do. I’m just taking that in, and once I’m down there (in the bullpen) I’ll come in for an inning or whatever they want me to do and give it all I have.
“I was really stunned. Dubee told me to go look at (Greg) Maddux and (Tom) Glavine, and it was the same kind of situation. It’s crazy to think back and see what they did throughout their careers, and where Roy is now, and they had rough starts. I guess I learn from these last seven starts, and just build off of it.”
Martin went 2-4 with a 6.90 ERA in seven starts. It has been speculated Martin might end up in the bullpen because he has a big arm that could serve the Phillies well in the late innings.
Martin has been successful the first time through the lineup, but the longer he has pitched the less effective he has been. Opponents have hit just .200 (11-for-55) against him the first time they see him. He has walked just six, but struck out 23. But after the first time through the lineup, opponent have hit .324 (22-for-68) with 15 walks and 11 strikeouts.
“I think he’s a gem,” Dubee said. “I think he really is going to be a gem in this league. Right now he’s got a lot of innings. We’re just trying to protect him from the workload and also see what he looks like in the bullpen.
“I’m not afraid to put him in the eighth inning right now. Again, this is all trial and error. It will be interesting to see how he handles it. His stuff has played phenomenally well the first time through a lineup. I don’t know if it’s because of fatigue. I don’t know if it’s because he burns up too much energy, but his stuff shortens up the second and third time through. He will play some big role on a pitching staff. It will be a nice little change to take a different look at him.”
I wrote yesterday about the many uncertainties surrounding the Phillies’ rotation entering the offseason. Everybody is mostly concerned about the offense (its 3.77 runs per game average is second-worst in baseball), the bullpen (its 4.24 ERA is worst in the National League), if Carlos Ruiz will be back, if Darin Ruf is the answer in right field, etc. But the rotation has been pretty bad this season. Its 4.29 ERA is 11th in the league. We know going into next season Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee will be atop the rotation. That’s a good start. If he is as good as Phillies scouts (and other scouts) think he is, Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez should be a solid No. 3.
But then there are the final two spots.
Roy Halladay and Kyle Kendrick? The Phillies face interesting decisions on both. Halladay is a free agent, and his numbers the past two seasons have not been good. He turns 37 next May. He had shoulder surgery this May. History suggests he won’t be the same. Do you trust the evaluation that an offseason of rest and preparation for Spring Training will have him sharper and throwing harder next season? Or is that just something somebody says about a struggling pitcher (i.e. Oh, don’t worry, he’s still got it …)? Halladay is a considerable risk, unless he’s resigned at a significant discount or to a heavily incentive laden contract.
Kendrick is eligible for salary arbitration. He has struggled since the end of June, going 3-8 with a 6.23 ERA in 12 starts. That followed a 40-game stretch from late April 2012 through June in which he went 16-14 with a 3.50 ERA. He is going to get a raise if the Phillies offer him salary arbitration. They could non-tender him and try to sign him for less, but there is risk there. Kendrick is a durable guy, never having appeared on the DL. I would think he could get a multiyear deal elsewhere. I mean, the Angels signed Joe Blanton for two years, $15 million following three seasons with a combined 20-21 record, 4.79 ERA and trips to the DL. Halladay might have more upside than Kendrick, but Kendrick seems to be the safer bet. You at least have a better sense of what you’re going to get.
Bring back both? Bring back one? Bring back none? If you say none you have to have pitchers ready to step up. There are some free agents out there, but are they worth the risk?
He went 3-for-4 with one home run and three RBIs in last night’s loss to the Nationals. Asche has hit in 10 of his last 11 games. He is hitting .375 (15-for-40) with three doubles, one triple, one home run and nine RBIs in that stretch. He is hitting .312 (24-for-77) in 22 games since beginning his big league career with one hit in his first 17 at-bats.
Two of his hits last night came against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, making him 5-for-13 with one double and four RBIs against left-handers this season. That is impressive, although it is a small sample size. Asche had an .869 OPS against right-handers this season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley compared to a .691 OPS against left-handers, so it remains to be seen how successful he can be against left-handers over an extended period of time. But that is why Asche has started 21 games against right-handers since joining the Phillies, compared to just three starts against left-handers.
Easing in a left-handed hitter against left-handed pitchers is nothing new. Larry Bowa did the same with Chase Utley and Charlie Manuel did the same with Ryan Howard.
The Phillies faced 31 left-handed starters (19.1 percent of their games) in 2003. Utley started just two of his 36 games (5.6 percent) against them. The Phillies started 28.4 percent of their games against left-handers in 2004. He started just seven of his 57 games (12.3 percent) against them. That disparity grew a little closer in 2005 — 29.6 percent of total games started against lefties compared to 20.6 percent for Utley — before Manuel truly turned Utley loose against lefties in 2006.
Howard started just one of five games in 2004 against lefties, and just 14 of 79 (17.7 percent) against them in 2005. Manuel turned him loose during his MVP season in 2006.
“I thought he had great at-bats,” Ryne Sandberg said about Asche. “It goes a long way with his ability. I think he can hit righties or lefties. He has the ability. He should get a big boost from his game tonight.”
Chase Utley finally answered Mac’s letter from It’s Always Sunny.
I spoke to Rob McElhenney in 2010 about the love letter to Utley and more.
But this afternoon the Phillies announced they had signed Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million contract. The deal includes a vesting/club option for 2017, plus signing and performance bonuses. If you remember, the Phillies and Gonzalez agreed July 27 to a six-year, $48 million deal with an $11 million option for 2019. But MLB.com reported Aug. 6 the deal hit a snag and could be in jeopardy.
It is believed the Phillies had some concerns about his health following his physical. Gonzalez had bone spurs removed from his right elbow relatively recently.
That is the only reason to explain why the deal dropped from $48 million to $12 million.
But if Gonzalez is healthy and is as good as scouts think he is, he should help the 2014 rotation behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.
“We are very pleased to have come to an agreement with Miguel,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “He is someone our scouts have followed for several years and in our most recent observations of him he showed tremendous stuff. We are hopeful he will pitch out of our starting rotation for 2014 and beyond.”
Gonzalez will report to the Phillies’ Spring Training complex in Clearwater, Fla. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, left-hander John Lannan has been moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Cody Asche left tonight’s game against the Mets in the seventh inning with a mildly strained/cramped right hamstring.
Asche singled to right field when he pulled up lame running to first base.
“On the ball heading to the gap, he put a little extra into the run and felt a little something,” Ryne Sandberg said. “He’s day-to-day, but it felt a lot better. He felt if he would’ve run to first base and then made an out and came back in and would’ve been able to shake it off and sit, it would’ve been fine. Cramp symptoms.”
Sandberg said Asche would not play in tomorrow’s series finale as a precaution. He called Asche day-to-day.
Utility infielder John McDonald replaced him as a pinch-runner.
Asche is hitting .256 (22-for-86) with six doubles, one triple, two home runs and 14 RBIs in 25 games. Since a 1-for-17 start to his big league career, Asche is hitting .304 (21-for-69).
Not too many people know what the future holds for Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg, but at the moment the smart bet is he will be in the dugout managing the Phillies in 2014.
He has been impressive through 12 games, although much can change.
Asked today at Citi Field if Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. provided him a timetable for a decision about his future, Sandberg said, “No, he didn’t talk about that. Nope. He told me … I’d be named interim manager and we were both on the same page. I might’ve had as much input or more to say than he did as far as these are meaningful games for evaluation of the players and all that. Fairly easy conversation but it was left at that.”
My gut simply tells me Sandberg is the guy. He has made some changes in the clubhouse. He has handled the games well. Everybody seems to be responding to him appropriately. I’ve got to think if that continues the job is his.
The Phillies are hosting ’90s night tonight at Citizens Bank Park.
Above is an awesome placard they handed out to fans before the game. They also handed out a John Kruk action figurine, but this is pretty sweet.
Below are the the ’90s themed images they used for the Phillies: