They said they never considered Double-A Reading left-hander Jesse Biddle, who is the organization’s top prospect.
That is not a surprise. Biddle had not pitched above Class A Clearwater before this season. The Phillies would like to get him more experience before they make that jump.
But Biddle certainly has impressed in four starts with Reading. He dominated last night in Harrisburg. He allowed one hit, two walks and struck out 16 in seven scoreless innings. He took a perfect game into the seventh inning before he walked a batter.
“The thing that stood out to me more than the number of strikeouts he had, through six innings he threw 73 pitches,” Phillies director of player personnel Joe Jordan said. “I mean, he really just dominated the strike zone with four pitches. It wasn’t that he went 90-95 pitches to get to that number. That’s what was so impressive to me. The last time I saw him, which was his previous start in Reading, I saw more swings and misses with his fastball than I had ever seen. His stuff is just coming. It’s coming and his ability to use it is getting better. Everything came together last night. Literally, he had four pitches to go to and command of all of them so they were in trouble.”
Of course, the question about any top prospect is this: When will Phillies fans see him in a big-league uniform?
“I think it’s a little premature, but we’re obviously going to keep our eyes on this and we’ll follow it very closely,” Jordan said. “I think you go in with all of these guys, as far as their development plans with the plan, and the players alter it good or bad. Sometimes their ability, their performance, it will make it go one way or the other. Nothing is in stone. He’s where he needs to be. He earned, after what he did in Clearwater last year, the right to go to Reading. So far he’s done a great job. It’s been a month. The weather is going to arm up, the hitters are going to catch up. I think that’s, that’s the way I look at it. He even said it last night – this is my kind of weather, the hitters don’t like hitting in this weather.
“We’re going to follow it very closely. Because he’s one of our best, if not our best. We all know that.”
From Elias Sports Bureau: Jonathan Pettibone allowed two runs, no walks and struck out six in a 3-2 victory last night over the Pirates. Only two other Phillies pitchers have registered at least six strikeouts without a walk in their big-league debut: Charles Hudson on May 31, 1983 (eight strikeouts against the Dodgers) and Carlton Loewer on June 14, 1998 (eight strikeouts against the Cubs).
I’d say Pettibone earned another start.
The game never should have been so close, but the offense continues to putter along in the clutch. They were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position last night. They are hitting .250 (22-for-88) with RISP since April 10, which ranks 17th in baseball and ninth in the National League. Remove a 6-for-11 effort against the Cardinals on Friday and they’re hitting just .208 (16-for-77) with RISP. The Phillies also are hitting .133 (2-for-15) with the bases loaded this season. That ranks 25th in baseball and 14th in the National League.
Ruiz is serving a 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant. Assuming there are no postponements in the Phillies’ schedule, Ruiz can join the Phillies on Sunday against the Mets at Citi Field.
Phillies catchers have a combined .614 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranked 25th in baseball entering tonight’s games. Ruiz has a career .781 OPS and a career-high .935 OPS last season.
From Elias Sports Bureau: Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an infield single in the eighth inning last night that started a four-run rally to give the Phillies the lead in their 7-3 victory over the Cardinals. Young has had hitting streaks of 12 or more games in each of the last ten seasons (2004-2013). Ichiro Suzuki had hitting streaks of at least 12 games in each of the past 12 years (2001-2012).
Howard has a mere .604 OPS against lefties from 2011-13, including a 1-for-15 effort with one double, one walk and eight strikeouts this season. His .604 OPS against lefties ranks 170th out of 178 qualifying players in baseball in that span. (Coincidentally, Jimmy Rollins‘ .605 OPS ranks 169th.) Howard also has nine home runs, 18 walks and 108 strikeouts in 283 plate appearances against lefties in that stretch.
So it made perfect sense to rest Howard against Cardinals left-hander Jamie Garcia tonight at Citizens Bank Park, although Charlie Manuel said Howard did not play because he has tightness in his right groin. Howard is day to day.
But Manuel also acknowledged Howard’s struggles against lefties, when he said, “This is a good time, gives me a chance to sit him down. He can pinch hit.”
Kevin Frandsen got the start at first base. It is his first start of the season, despite the fact he hit .338 with 10 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 14 RBIs last season, including a .400 (26-for-65) effort against left-handers. Maybe Frandsen can find playing time at first base when the Phillies face lefties.
It would make sense to rest Howard more against lefties. But if I were a betting man, I’d say Howard continues to get the majority of starts against them. He is making $20 million this season and $25 million in 2014, 2015 and 2016 with a $23 million club option or a $10 million buyout for 2017. The Phillies are thinking long game here, and that means keeping Howard an everyday player. But I think a happy medium can be reached. Manuel doesn’t have to play him every game against lefties, but he also doesn’t have to go into a straight platoon. It would be a good way to get an extra right-handed bat in the lineup, which the Phillies could use. They are hitting just .131 against left-handers this season.
X-rays came back negative. The Phillies said he is day to day.
That is a big relief. Ruiz is serving his 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant, but is eligible to rejoin the team April 28 against the Mets at Citi Field. They need him back badly. Phillies catchers have a .480 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which is the third-worst mark in baseball.
Only the Marlins (.446) and Reds (.430) have gotten less production from their catchers.
They have not earned a true walk since the sixth inning Sunday, when John Mayberry Jr. got a free pass.
The Phillies have played four consecutive games without a walk, which is a truly remarkable feat. It is the longest streak in baseball since the Chicago White Sox played four consecutive games without a walk in Aug. 2011. It is the longest streak in the National League since the Arizona Diamondbacks played four consecutive games without a walk in Aug. 2009.
The Phillies are just the fourth NL team to hit that mark since 1935. The 2009 Diamondbacks, 1976 Montreal Expos and 1952 New York Giants are the others.
Can they get a walk tonight? They are just one game from tying the single-season modern baseball record, according to Baseball Reference. The Phillies opened the 1920 season with five consecutive games without a walk. (They finished the 1919 season with two games without a walk, bringing the overall record to seven games.) The Phillies face Jamie Garcia tonight. He has walked nine batters in 19 1/3 innings.
Oh, how times have changed. Here are the Phillies’ walks totals since Charlie Manuel became manager in 2005, where they ranked in the National League in walks and where they finished in the league in scoring :
- 2005: 639, first in walks (2nd in scoring).
- 2006: 626, first (1st).
- 2007: 641, first (1st).
- 2008: 586, fifth (tied 2nd).
- 2009: 589, seventh (1st).
- 2010: 560, fourth (2nd).
- 2011: 539, fifth (7th).
- 2012: 454, thirteenth (8th).
- 2013: 34, fourteenth (11th).
The Phillies placed John Lannan on the 15-day disabled list today because of a strained quadriceps tendon in his left knee. Ruben Amaro Jr. and manager Charlie Manuel said Lannan could miss six to eight weeks.
“It’s a fairly serious injury,” Amaro said. “I know John was upset about it, but there’s not much you can do other than rehab it and come back as soon as possible.”
The Phillies are expected to call up a relief pitcher tomorrow to temporarily take Lannan’s spot on the 25-man roster. A replacement for his spot in the rotation is expected to be announced before Monday’s game against the Pirates, which would have been Lannan’s turn to pitch.
The Phillies have options in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but their best option there might be left-hander Adam Morgan and he pitched today in Pawtucket. Amaro said right-handers Tyler Cloyd, Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin also will be considered. Amaro said Double-A Reading prospect Jesse Biddle is not an option. He also said the Phillies could look outside the organization to find a replacement, although he said the choice likely will come from Triple-A.
A corresponding roster move will come tomorrow.
Lannan tweaked his knee Friday in Miami, but aggravated it early in last night’s start against Cincinnati. He said last night he has had the issue in the past, but never missed a start because of it. So who replaces him? Well, I might have said left-hander Adam Morgan, but he threw 100 pitches in five innings today. Considering Lannan’s spot in the rotation comes up Monday, there seems to be little chance it’s Morgan. Cesar Jimenez started last night, but that’s because the IronPigs played a doubleheader Sunday and pitched both Ethan Martin (4.82 ERA) and B.J. Rosenberg (6.00 ERA). Jonathan Pettibone (9.64 ERA) has struggled. So has Tyler Cloyd (7.07 ERA).
Stay tuned …
I’m not even talking about a lot of offense. I’m talking about a little bit of offense. You know, like a four or five-run game every once in a while. But the Phillies hit their high-water mark on their just completed six-game road trip through Miami and Cincinnati on Friday, when they scored three runs against the Marlins. And they needed 10 innings to do that.
Let’s take a look at some of the wretched numbers:
- The Phillies did not score a single run before the sixth inning in any game during the road trip.
- They hit just .205 and scored a mere 10 runs overall.
- They failed to walk once in the entire series against the Reds. It is the first time since Aug. 13-15, 1995, they had no walks over a three-game span. It is just the second time it has happened to them in the past 50 years. It is the first time it has happened in baseball since Aug. 2011, when the White Sox failed to walk in four consecutive games. Walks matter. On-base percentage matters. You can’t score if you don’t get anybody on base. Ever.
- The Phillies are averaging 3.47 runs per game this season, which ranks 12th in the National League. They are 12th with a .667 OPS. They have walked just 34 times, which is tied for the second-lowest mark in the league. They have struck out 120 times, which is third. Remember how people said, “The Braves are going to hit home runs, but they are going to strike out too much?” Well, the Braves have struck out a whopping 121 times, just one more than the Phillies. But they also have walked 10 more times, and have scored 16 more runs. Of course, the biggest difference is the Braves lead the National League with a 1.77 ERA, while the Phillies are 15th with a 4.90 ERA. But pitching wasn’t the problem during this trip, other than John Lannan‘s performance last night. It was the toothless offense.
I got a ton of tweets last night during the game basically saying everybody must go. Ruben Amaro Jr. to Charlie Manuel to the lineup. Basically the entire team. Let me say right now: if you really believe this on April 18 don’t hold your breath. If you can find another team in baseball that made wholesale changes 15 games into a 162-game season, please let me know. The Phillies are going to see what happens when Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young join the team. They are going to give themselves time. It might be fruitless. It might be a gigantic waste of time, but this is what they are going to do. So if you are breathing fire today you should relax. It will get you nowhere.
I’ve also gotten more than a few tweets and e-mails about the Phillies changing their lineup. The folks that absolutely demanded Manuel hit Ben Revere leadoff suddenly have changed their tune as he is hitless in his last 14 at-bats to drop his batting average and slugging percentage to .194. But the alternative is Jimmy Rollins, who went 1-for-18 on the trip.
The only real option to improve the lineup? Keep playing and hope things get better. Yes, that’s it. It’s not much of a plan, but it’s the only plan they’ve got. Ryne Sandberg can’t make these guys hit. Screaming at them won’t make them hit. Punishing them won’t make them hit. (Some fans seem to think treating professional baseball players like they’re freshmen on a JV team is the way to go. Not sure the Mike Rice method would be effective in the Phillies’ clubhouse.) Either they’re going to hit or they’re not. But massive changes 15 games into the season? Not going to happen. But Amaro won’t wait forever, either. He showed last July 31 he will make changes if needed. But it’s April 18. We’re a long way from there.
Your best option? If you’re of legal age, crack open a beer or have a scotch. It’ll help calm the nerves.