Looking Ahead to Phillies 2016 Outfield Mix

On April 6th, 2015 for Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies starting outfield consisted of Ben Revere in left, Odubel Herrera in center, and Grady Sizemore in right field.
Six months later, on October 4th, the Phillies closed out the season hosting the Miami Marlins with a starting outfield of Darin Ruf in left, Aaron Altherr in center, and Jeff Francoeur in right field. During the game, Altherr slid over to left, and Herrera came on to play center field.
During the course of the 2015 season, Cody Asche started 61 games and played in 63 out in left field. 
With the trade of Revere to the Toronto Blue Jays at the July trade deadline, that made Asche, who began the year as the starting 3rd baseman, the player who had seen the most action at the left field position.
That 2015 outfield mix was a major change from the previous season. In 2014, the Phillies started Marlon Byrd in right field for 149 games, Revere in center for 141, and Domonic Brown in left field for 127 games.
Now as the club prepares to report for spring training in Clearwater in just three weeks, the outfield is again poised for significant changes. 
Gone are Byrd, Brown, Francoeur, Revere, and Sizemore. The outfield has been a disappointing mess for the Phillies at least since Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were dealt away at the 2012 trade deadline. 

The Phillies are going to be picked for last place in the National League East by every resource as those prognostications are released in the coming weeks. 
The Nationals and Mets are the clear favorites. The Marlins will get a healthy Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton back in their rotation and lineup.
While the Braves finished just four games ahead of the Phillies in the 2015 NL East standings, an evaluation of the two likely opening rosters still shows Atlanta with arguably better talent than the Phils will put out on the field. 
Even if you want to hope for a 4th place finish, it will still come with a record that is likely to be at least 20 games below the .500 mark.
One of the main reasons that the Phillies will not improve measurably this coming season, and may not for a couple more, is the state of that outfield. 
There are no players who are likely capable to hit even 20 home runs or steal 20 bases. Only Herrera appears capable of hitting in the .290-.300 range.
While Altherr finished out the 2015 season as the starting left fielder, there is a good chance that he will become the new everyday right fielder this coming season, with Herrera sliding over to left, and newcomer Peter Bourjos starting in center field.
That alignment would appear to upgrade the Phillies defensively, and that is an important part of the game to be sure. 
I am a huge proponent of defensive excellence contributing to a winning ball club. However, be honest: does a Herrera-Bourjos-Altherr outfield excite you in the long-term? Does that look like a postseason alignment to you?
Back in early December, manager Pete Mackanin was quoted by CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury regarding the 2016 outfield alignment: “We really have three centerfielders, no matter where they play.” 
He and GM Matt Klentak will watch the players perform in spring training before making any final plans.
However, it is clear that Mackanin realizes the offensive limitations of this group, and so will focus on improving the team defensively. 
Defense is a very important part of the game, and I’m very happy that we’ve got some outfielders that can cover a lot of ground and they are sure-handed outfielders,” Mackanin told Salisbury.
Both Asche and Ruf are likely to be back in the lineup mix, though Ruf is most likely to see his time as part of a platoon at 1st base with Ryan Howard
He is a defensive liability when used in left field, and his bat is only truly functional against left-handed pitching. 
Asche is a solid athlete, but is much more suited to a utility role, backing up in left field and at 3rd base.
The Phillies just signed former Orioles outfielder David Lough as insurance, and also selected former Rays prospect Tyler Goeddel with the top pick in the Rule 5 Draft. 
Both players will get a shot to show what they can do in the spring, and Goeddel will have to be kept in the big leagues all year, unless the Phils decide to return him or work out a deal with Tampa Bay.
Given health and anticipated production, the 2016 Phillies outfield is likely to be Herrera-Bourjos-Altherr, with Asche backing up in left, and Goeddel all across the outfield. 
We are likely to see Altherr play at least on both corners at one point or another, and Herrera will likely see some center field.
The wild card for the current group is Goeddel. The Phillies liked his potential enough to make him that top Rule 5 selection. 
It is possible that he could play himself into a much more significant role during spring training.
In the future, the real excitement will come from the minor leaguesNick Williams is the team’s #4 prospect, and is likely either the right or left fielder of the future. 
That future should begin for the 22-year old at some point in 2017, though he could push for a September call-up with a strong performance at Lehigh Valley.
Further down the line, 2015 top MLB Amateur Draft pick Cornelius Randolph is seen as a premium hitter who is likely to be a left fielder. That would mean Williams becomes the right fielder eventually. 
If spring training for the 2018 season doesn’t include Williams and Randolph as the likely starters in those roles, it has to be seen as a developmental disappointment for the club.
Of course, much of the future could also change based on the team spending money in free agency. 
As the young pitchers develop, and shortstop J.P. Crawford reaches the big leagues and develops as an infield compliment to Maikel Franco, ownership may decide that it’s time to open up the wallet and spend. 
Bryce Harper is due to become a free agent following the 2018 season, and Mike Trout after the 2020 campaign.
While Phillies fans can feel free to dream on those young, proven studs, the more immediately important and much more realistic situation is to sort out the options currently available. 
The team needs to find out if either or both of Altherr and/or Herrera is for real as a longer term option, and needs to get Williams to the big leagues. 

Philography: Kevin Stocker

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Kevin Stocker came late to the ’93 party, but became integral to that success

During this current off-season, the “Philography” series has covered 1970’s era shortstop and franchise icon Larry Bowa, and early 20th century outfielder Sherry Magee.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at an often overlooked, but extremely vital piece to the ‘Macho Row’ NL pennant winners of the 1993 season, shortstop Kevin Stocker.
Stocker was born on February 13th, 1970 in Spokane, Washington. He grew up in that Pacific Northwest town, attended high school there, and went on to play baseball in-state at the University of Washington.
In the 1991 MLB Amateur Draft, the Phillies made a pitcher out of Wichita State University, Tyler Green, their first round pick at 10th overall. In the second round with the 53rd overall pick, the Phils selected Stocker.
To say that Stocker didn’t hit well in his first professional season during that summer of 1991 at Spartanburg would be an understatement. He produced just a .220/.310/.272 slash line with a dozen extra-base hits in 290 plate appearances.
But Stocker did flash some speed, swiping 15 bases in 18 attempts. And he fielded the shortstop position extremely well. At just 21 years of age, he looked like the prototypical good glove, light-hitting shortstop with some speed whose ability to actually reach the Major League Baseball level was extremely questionable.
In 1992, Stocker got stronger and improved his offensive production. He split the season between High-A Clearwater and AA-Reading, producing a .267/.339/.349 slash line with 74 runs scored and 32 steals over a combined 550 plate appearances. He showed that improved strength and adjustment to pro pitching with 30 extra-base hits, including his first two professional home runs.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, the Phillies were seriously struggling. The big league club finished 70-92 and in last place in the NL East in what was a 6th consecutive losing season for the franchise.

The shortstop position was a particular mess. In that 1992 season, the Phillies gave significant plate appearances to four different players: Juan Bell (168), Dale Sveum (153), Kim Batiste (145), and Joe Millette (78), and those players produced just 36 RBI and 39 runs scored, with six stolen bases and 16 extra-base hits.
As the 1993 season got underway, no one expected much of the Phillies. The team had added just a handful of new faces to the ’92 last place finishers. Jim Fregosi‘s squad appeared headed for yet another losing season. And what was just as bad, the organization minor league prospects were not expected to bring much help.
History records that something magical took place in that 1993 season. It happens every once in a while in sports. A team receives peak performances from a number of players at the same time, is relatively healthy for an entire season, has tremendous chemistry, and overachieves to an extreme level.

The ’93 Phillies started with a three game sweep of the Astros in Houston. The club then returned to Veteran’s Stadium and lost their home opener to the Chicago Cubs in an 11-7 slugfest, falling into 2nd place in the NL East. It would be the only day all season that the team did not spend at the top of the division standings.
On July 6th, the Phils were right in the middle of an 11-game homestand, and they dropped a 7-5 decision to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite the defeat, the team had still built up an incredible 55-29 record to that point, and had a six game lead in the division race.
One place that the club was receiving little production still was at that shortstop position. Neither Bell nor Batiste, who were getting all of the opportunities, were doing anything. Fregosi and GM Lee Thomas decided that it was finally time to see what Stocker could do.
To that point, Stocker was not tearing it up at AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He was hitting for just a .233/.312/.313 slash line with 18 extra base hits in 357 plate appearances. But as was typical to that point, he was fielding the shortstop position flawlessly, and had swiped 17 bases. The hope was that he would solidify the infield defensively and perhaps give the team some spark on the bases.
Stocker’s first big league start on July 7th, 1993 against the Dodgers at The Vet was a memorable one. He took an 0-6 collar at the plate. But the game lasted 20 innings.
In the top of the 9th, the Dodgers had rallied from a 5-3 deficit to tie. Stocker saved the game with a tremendous play to nail the Dodgers’ Jose Offerman at home plate trying to score the go-ahead run.
Jim Eisenreich and Mickey Morandini started the bottom of the 20th with singles, bringing Stocker to the plate. He laid down what was meant to be a sacrifice bunt, but reached safely when the Dodgers’ tried unsuccessfully to cut off Eisenreich at 3rd base as the lead runner. When Lenny Dykstra followed with a ground rule double, the Phillies had a dramatic walkoff victory in a manner for by which that team would become famous.
Stocker was handed the starting shortstop job, and over the next 17 games he would surprise everyone with his offense, delivering for the team big time. In those games, he would hit for a .452/.514/.581 slash line with nine RBI and 11 runs scored.
That hot stretch helped propel Stocker to a rookie season in which he would hit .324 with a .409 on-base percentage. He delivered 17 extra-base hits and scored 46 runs in just 302 plate appearances over the season’s final three months. The Phillies would build up an 11 game lead at one point, and coast home to the NL East crown.
In the National League Championship Series, the Phils went up against the talented Atlanta Braves, who had won 104 games in the regular season. As underdogs, the Phils stunned the baseball world once again, beating back the Braves in six games to capture just the 5th NL pennant in franchise history.
In that NLCS, Stocker hit just .182 with only four hits. But as was typical of him that year, one of those hits was pivotal. Trailing two games to one in the series, and 1-0 in Game 4, Stocker delivered a one-out sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 4th inning off future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, scoring Darren Daulton with a run to tie the game.
Pitcher Danny Jackson would follow with a ground single to center, scoring Milt Thompson to put the Phillies up 2-1. Jackson would then take the mound and deliver with a 118-pitch gem. Mitch Williams closed out the win, and the Phils had tied the series up in Atlanta. They would win the next two games in dramatic fashion as well to reach the World Series for the first time in a decade.
In the six game World Series defeat at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, Stocker would hit just .211 with four hits, scoring and driving in just one run. He was on the field at his shortstop position as Joe Carter drove a pitch from the Wild Thing out to left field in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 6.
Stocker was quoted on that historic moment by Larry Stone of the Seattle Times: “I had gone out for the relay. I thought it was too high, and would drop on the warning track. Inky (left fielder Pete Incaviglia) kept going back. When he put his hands on the wall, I knew it was not good.
Still, he had been everything that Phillies team could have hoped for in 1993, especially from a 23-year old rookie – a vital piece to a pennant-winning ball club. Stocker would finish 6th in the NL Rookie of the Year voting following that freshman campaign.
He followed it up with another solid season the following year, producing a .273 batting average and .383 on-base percentage in 330 plate appearances during the strike-shortened 1994 season. But the team was just 54-61 at the time of the work stoppage.
When baseball returned, neither Stocker nor the Phillies were able to recapture that previous magic. The team went just 69-75 in 1995, while Stocker hit for just a .218 average. In 1996 and ’97, it got even worse, with the team finishing a cumulative 135-189 and in last place both years. Stocker continued as a strong defensive shortstop, and showed more extra-base pop, but was never a significant offensive contributor.
On November 18th, 1997 after five seasons as the Phillies starting shortstop, Stocker was traded to the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays in exchange for a 23-year old outfielder named Bobby Abreu. It would turn out to be one of the best trades in Phillies history, as Abreu became one of the most productive offensive players in team history over the next decade.
For his part, Stocker became the first shortstop in Rays’ franchise history. He spent parts of three seasons in Tampa before being released in May of 2000. Five days after his release, the Anaheim Angels signed him, and he finished out the season with the Halos. It would turn out to be his final big league season. He would report to spring training with the New York Mets in 2001, but his heart was no longer in the playing, and he would leave before that Grapefruit League ended.
Following his retirement, Stocker moved into the broadcast booth as smoothly as he fielded his shortstop position. He worked in minor league baseball, for CBS Sports, and with the Pac-12 Network, where he remains an analyst today. He was a finalist for the Phillies broadcast booth each of the last two off-seasons, losing out to Jamie Moyer in 2014, and then to Ben Davis a year ago.
In the 2008 World Series, his two main big league teams, the Phillies and Rays, found themselves facing off. Stocker was asked at that time who he was rooting for, and was quoted by Stone: “My loyalties are with the Phillies. They treat their former players great. To this day, they still call and keep in contact.
The feeling is mutual for Phillies fans. Stocker has remained a fan favorite at reunions and other events involving alumni, especially involving that beloved 1993 team. Anyone who lived through that magical summer, an oasis in a parched 14-season losing streak of a desert, will always hold that particular team and its players close to our hearts.

Pete Rose Should be Honored on Phillies Wall of Fame

In a special news conference called to make the event official, the Reds announced that they will enshrine Pete Rose, and will also retire his uniform number ’14’ and unveil a statue in his honor during a ceremony to take place on the weekend of June 24th-26th.
Per ESPN news services and the Associated Press, Reds CEO Bob Castellini stated: 
Inducting Pete into the Reds Hall of Fame will be a defining moment in the 147-year history of this storied franchise. He is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Reds uniform and it will be an unforgettable experience watching him being honored as such.
According to the same report, the famed “Charlie Hustle” was asked how he would like the statue to portray him, and poked fun at his gambling issues by responding: “Well, I sure as hell don’t want it to be me standing at the $2 window at Turfway.”
Rose will become the 86th member of the Reds Hall of Fame, which includes his fellow ‘Big Red Machine’ teammates Johnny BenchJoe MorganTony Perez,Dave ConcepcionGeorge FosterCesar Geronimo, and Ken Griffey Sr, as well as their manager, Sparky Anderson
The Reds’ HOF also includes newly elected Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.
The announcement brings up an interesting question: should the Philadelphia Phillies also honor Rose, inducting him on to their Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park?

Phillies fans who were around at the time, such as myself, clearly remember when the team signed Rose as their first-ever big free agent prior to the 1979 season. 
The Phillies teams of that era were ulta-talented, and had won three consecutive NL East crowns. But they were missing something. They just didn’t seem to know how to win the big games.
That was one of the main reasons that Rose was given the largest contract in baseball history to that point: put that talented group of Mike SchmidtSteve CarltonGreg LuzinskiLarry BowaGarry MaddoxTug McGraw, et al over the top.
To that point in his career, Schmidt had developed into one of baseball’s most feared sluggers. 
The greatest player in Phillies history credits the presence and daily influence of Rose in elevating him to become one of the best all-around players in the game, a perennial MVP candidate, and ultimately a Baseball Hall of Famer:
“He completed my game,” is how Schmidt describes the Rose influence.
Two years later, with Rose as the team’s emotional leader and its statistical leader in hits and doubles, 2nd on the club to Schmidt in runs scored, the Phillies finally won the first World Series crown in the 98th season of the franchise’ existence.
To put an exclamation point on the importance of his intangible value to that team, one only needs to recall the unforgettable second out of the ninth inning of the final game of that Fall Classic against the Kansas City Royals, when Rose snatched a ball out of mid-air after catcher Bob Boone had bobbled it.
Another hustling feat that Rose accomplished while with the Phillies is one that I highlighted just the other day. In a 1981 game in Cincinnati against the Reds, Rose became just the 2nd Phillies player ever to steal 2nd, 3rd, and then home in the same inning.
Rose played five seasons in a Phillies uniform from 1979-1983, and helped lead the Phils to the postseason in three of those seasons, including winning a pair of National League pennants. 
He was an NL All-Star the first four of those seasons, won a 1981 Silver Slugger at 1st base, and amassed 826 hits in a Phillies uniform, hitting .291 with a .365 on-base percentage.
There are 37 players and club personnel enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame
They include all seven of Rose’s 1980 World Series-winning teammates mentioned earlier here, an eighth in John Vukovich, that team’s general manager Paul Owens, their manager Dallas Green, and two broadcasters who called their games in Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn.
The organization still needs to rectify the omission of early 20th century 1st baseman Fred Luderus at some point. 
But for this fan who was around to see the obvious influence that Rose had in finally bringing a championship to Phillies fans, he is absolutely deserving of a plaque on that wall.

Philography: Sherry Magee

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Sherry Magee may have been the greatest Phillies hitter of the 1900’s

This time around we’re entering the Way Back Machine, back to the first decade of the 20th century, and giving fans a bit of a background on a Phillies Wall of Famer.

Sherwood Robert Magee, better known as Sherry Magee to baseball fans of his day, was born on August 6th, 1884 in Clarendon, Pennsylvania, a tiny borough in Warren County, just north of the Allegheny National Forest, about 140 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
If you want a rough comparison to a contemporary baseball great, think Pete Rose. Magee was described by John J. Ward in ‘Baseball Magazine‘ as “a man for whom it is easy to conceive a great liking or a passionate hatred,” per Tom Simon at SABR‘s baseball bio project, who further sketched out my Rose comparison by writing: 

Though he stood only 5’11” and weighed 179 lbs., he was physically imposing-“husky” and “burly” were adjectives commonly used to describe him.

Simon reports that it was a Phillies scout by the name of Jim Randall who happened to be disembarking a train in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, just outside Harrisburg, in early summer 1904 when he overheard some locals raving about a local ballplayer.
Randall stopped to see the kid, and offered him a contract that same day. The next day, the 19-year old Magee was in Philly practicing with the team. Just two days after first being seen, Magee was starting in left field for manager Hugh Duffy‘s squad at Baker Bowl in an 8-6 loss to the Brooklyn Superbas.
Before his arrival, the Phils had started the season 13-42. With Magee in the lineup, the club would go a much more competitive 39-58 the rest of the way. That first season, Magee hit .277 with 57 RBI and 51 runs scored in 387 plate appearances.
He also stole 11 bases that first season, and his career was off and running, literally. Magee would swipe 40 or more bases in five of the next six seasons, with a high of 55 steals in 1906.
As told in my recent piece on the topic, Magee was one of just three Phillies players in franchise history to steal 2nd, 3rd, and home in the same inning and sequence of base running. He stole home an astounding 23 times in his career, and remains the only Phillies player to ever steal home twice in the same game.
Magee would play for 11 years with the Phillies, finishing up with the 1914 season in which he finished 7th in National League MVP voting during a year in which he led the league in hits (171), doubles (39), RBI (103), Total Bases (277), and with a .509 slugging percentage.
The Phillies would win the club’s first-ever NL pennant in the 1915 season, reaching the World Series for the first time. But Magee, their longtime star outfielder, wasn’t around to be a part of that exciting series against Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox.
On Christmas Eve of 1914, the Phillies traded Magee away to the Boston Braves for players to be named later, who turned out to be a nothing named Oscar Dugey, and Possum Whitted, who would become a starting outfielder for the team for the rest of the decade.
The impetus for the trade was that, despite his excellence on the field, Magee was a surly personality. In a famous 1911 incident, Magee had actually attacked an umpire on the field. His subsequent suspension was a primary reason that the team fell short in its first run at a National League pennant.
Whitted, on the other hand, was a hustling outfielder who was well liked by fellow players and fans alike. Not blessed with the same natural ability as Magee, he nonetheless could play well enough to be a positive piece on the 1915 NL champions.
Magee, meanwhile, suffered through a disaster. The trade to Boston was supposed to have put him with his first winning team. But, as Simon describes it in his SABR bio piece, fate intervened, as it so often will in such situations:
Reporting to spring training in Macon, Georgia,” Simon writes, “Magee was in a Braves uniform no more than 15 minutes when he stepped in a hole while shagging a flyball. He fell and injured his shoulder. Weeks later, when it failed to improve, he finally saw a doctor and learned that his collarbone was broken. Magee was only 30 years old but never again was the same player.
Magee would play in parts of three seasons with the Braves, and then finished up his big league career playing in parts of two season with the Cincinnati Reds in 1918 and 1919. Still, Magee wasn’t finished playing baseball. He clung to the dream, playing seven seasons in minor league baseball. But he would never make it back to the Majors.
Incredibly, the man who had been known as an umpire baiter, and who had been suspended for attacking one on the field, would retire only to become an umpire himself. In fact, he proved so good at it that he was hired by the National League, and by all accounts did an excellent job during his lone season as a big league ump in 1927.
Magee was scheduled to return to his umpiring duties for the 1928 season.During the off-season that winter, he worked at a restaurant in Philadelphia. 
Simon tells that in early March, just as he was looking forward to the season, Magee became ill, developing pneumonia. On March 13th, 1929, he died at the age of just 44 years.
In his 11 seasons with the Phillies, Magee put together a cumulative .299/.371/.447 slash line, with 1,176 RBI and 898 runs scored. He also swiped 387 bases, a figure that still has him 4th on the all-time franchise leader board. His 1,647 hits as a Phillies player make him one of just a dozen to pass the 1,500-hit mark with the team, and have him at 8th on that all-time list.
For more detailed information on Magee, please visit the Simon link presented earlier in this story, and you can also read a fine piece from the 2001 SABR Baseball Research Journal #30 written by Simon titled “Sherry Magee, Psychopathic Slugger” available from that link on Ebay.

Phillies Now Surprisingly Counting on Jerad Eickhoff

In that trade, the Phils sent ace homegrown lefty Cole Hamels to the Lone Star State in exchange for catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and pitchers Jake ThompsonAlec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff.

Eickhoff is not listed last there by happenstance. The fact is that at the time of the deal, Eickhoff was the most anonymous of the pieces coming back to the Phillies, and the one least expected to impact the team, especially in the short-term.
As anyone who follows the team knows, that narrative was quickly changed by Eickhoff’s performances as soon as he arrived. 
Assigned to AAA Lehigh Valley after the deal, Eickhoff went 2-1 in 3 starts, allowing 17 hits in 21.2 innings, with a 19/3 K:BB ratio.
Not only those statistics, but his maturity and poise impressed the club enough to call Eickhoff up to the big leagues for his first start on August 21st at Marlins Park against the host Miami Marlins. 
There were no promises made to the 25-year old. He would have to keep impressing if he wanted to stay with the Phillies.
Impress he did. Eickhoff shut out Miami on five hits over six innings, striking out five and walking just one batter, earning the Win in his big league debut in a 7-1 Phillies victory.

IT’S HARD TO DESCRIBE. IT’S JUST THE WHOLE CULMINATION OF A SEASON, EXPERIENCES, LEARNING. IT JUST ALL COMES TOGETHER INTO A GREAT FEELING.” ~ EICKHOFF AFTER HIS SEASON FINALE
Over his next three starts, Eickhoff produced a mixed bag of results. 
He pitched back-to-back in his next two outings against the red-hot New York Mets, who were taking charge in an NL East race that they would win going away.
In the two starts against New York, Eickhoff allowed six earned runs and 10 hits over 13 innings, with a 10/3 K:BB ratio. 
He lost both outings, getting hit too frequently in the first, and allowing a pair of long balls in the second.
Given almost a week off, Eickhoff’s next start was his worst. At Fenway Park, the righthander allowed six earned on eight hits in just four innings against the Red Sox. 
But if there was any thought that he was tiring, the rest of the season would dispel those thoughts.
In his final four starts during the month of September, Eickhoff was brilliant. He allowed just 17 hits over 28 innings, lasting a full seven innings in each of the outings. 
He had a 33/7 K:BB ratio in the four starts, and struck out 10 opposition hitters in each of his last two starts against the division’s top two team’s, the Washington Nationals and the Mets.
In his final start against New York, Eickhoff battled Mets’ outfielder Juan Lagares. With his pitch count rising towards the 110 mark, he overcame a visit to the mound by manager Pete Mackanin to stay in the game.
Eickhoff then won the battle, finally striking out the center fielder swinging in what was clearly an emotional moment for the youngster. 
He was quoted following the game by CSNPhilly.com insider Jim Salisbury:
As a competitor I’m not wanting to come out there and for Pete to stick with me, that meant a lot to me. I was really looking to get that guy out for myself and for the team to build some trust. It was fun, but it was also nerve-racking at the same time. He kept fouling good pitches off. He had me grinding, too. It’s hard to describe. It’s just the whole culmination of a season, experiences, learning. It just all comes together into a great feeling. It’s hard to describe, just everything was kind of bottled up into one pitch.
His final numbers showed a 3-3 record with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.039 WHIP mark. He allowed 40 hits in 51 innings, with a 49/13 K:BB ratio. 
Along with 22-year old fellow rookie Aaron Nola, Eickhoff gave the Phillies reliable Major League-caliber starting pitching over the season’s final three weeks.
Now those two will enter Spring Training down in Clearwater next month as the only returnees with places in the 2016 starting rotation already assured. 
Health allowing, they will join newcomers Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton in that rotation, with a group of youngsters fighting for the 5th starter job.