Phillies Closing August in Poor Shape

Following Tuesday night’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of the NL East rival Washington Nationals, the Phillies have played the schedule to a 12-13 record during the month of August.
While that might now seem like too bad a mark, a look at the club’s recent play and some of the mitigating circumstances shows that they are entering September in much worse shape than fans hoped would be the case.
Over the last two weeks the Phillies have won just four of their 13 games, and have now lost four consecutive series of three games or more. Only the two game Interleague split with the White Sox was a non-loser in that stretch.
During this stretch, other than the pair against the Chisox, the Phils have faced some really good, contending ball clubs in the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saint Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, and now the Nationals.
Those four teams are a combined 50 games over the .500 mark, and the group includes two divisional leaders (Nationals, Dodgers), one of the two current NL Wildcard teams (Cardinals) and a Mets club that is just 2.5 out of that WC race.
However, more than the competition level is at play here. The Phillies are simply not looking very competitive most nights, and do not seem to be playing with the same spirit, drive, and intensity that characterized their early season success.
It seems like forever ago, maybe it was just a dream? But the Fightin’ Phils were five games over the .500 mark as late as May 25th.
However, the Phillies have now gone 18-24 since the MLB All-Star break. And what for a couple of mid-summer months seemed like a hot and cold club treading water appears to have become a fast-sinking ship as the ‘dog days’ of August come to a close.
The Phils have now lost young starting pitchers Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin for the season to the disabled list with arm and knee injuries respectively.
There is even a possibility that Nola could be gone for most, if not all, of the 2017 season. For that matter, Eflin is also questionable to return healthy.
The loss of the two youngsters comes after the club had already lost an expected innings-eating veteran, Charlie Morton, back at the end of April to a season-ending injury.
Vincent Velasquez has proved enigmatic. The stuff is obviously there to get big league hitters out. He has allowed 124 hits over the same number of innings with a 144/45 K:BB ratio.
But Velasquez struggles almost every time out with command and control issues, running up huge pitch counts early in the game, leading to regular early exits.
The most consistent starters all year have been the two eldest, 29-year old Jeremy Hellickson and the now 26-year old Jerad Eickhoff.
Aug 30, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach McClure (22) talks with starting pitcher Eickhoff (48) after he finished the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. The Nationals defeated the Phillies, 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
With the injuries, those pitchers are now joined in the rotation by lefty Adam Morgan, who has been consistently disappointing, and by 22-year old top pitching prospect Jake Thompson.
The bullpen has gone nearly the entire season leaning heavily on just two reliable arms in surprise closer Jeanmar Gomez and setup man Hector Neris, though young Edubray Ramos has generally pitched well since his late June promotion.
The offense still struggles most nights. The Phillies are last in Major League Baseball in runs scored, just 23rd in home runs, 29th in extra-base hits, and 29th in walks.
With a thinning rotation, an overworked bullpen, and an offense that is overmatched on most nights, there is a distinct possibility that what we have seen over the last two weeks could snowball into a disastrous September finish.
There was great hope at one point in the season that the club could hope for an infusion of young position player talent from its minor league system at this point.
Prospects such as shortstop J.P. Crawford, outfielder Nick Williams, and possibly a catcher from among Andrew Knapp or Jorge Alfaro would arrive to inject some life and talent for the final few weeks.
That no longer seems likely, as each of those still highly rated youngsters has struggled to a large extent in August, with the lone exception of Alfaro, who may now have passed Crawford as the organization’s top prospect.
Another factor is that most of the Phillies minor league affiliates are headed to the postseason. That is a great development for the organization as a whole, and for the players as they experience winning.
However, it also means that the arrival of any legitimate help from those minor league clubs is probably delayed by a week or two.
Manager Pete Mackanin has telegraphed some curious plans for the lineup in the coming month, stating that Tommy Joseph will see much more playing time at 1st base as Ryan Howard is phased out (if he is not traded).
Jun 29, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Goeddel against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
However, at the same time Mackanin seems to be leaning towards playing journeyman Jimmy Paredes over rookie Tyler Goeddel, who has all but disappeared from the lineup in recent weeks.
I hope that the doom and gloom that I am feeling right now regarding this team in the short-term is something that passes, and that the current group finds a way to kick it back into gear a bit and make a final push towards respectability.
Unfortunately, that is not what I am seeing right now. My fear is that this 2016 Phillies team could finish well short of the 75 wins that I predicted as the season opened.
They would need a 15-15 record over the final 30 games in order to reach that mark now. What I once hoped would be a low-ball prediction on my part now seems to be rapidly becoming an unreachable goal.

Chooch’s Place in Phillies History

It was just two days ago that the announcement came, one that I had expected would be coming by this year’s MLB trade deadline or soon thereafter: the Phillies had traded away longtime starting catcher Carlos Ruiz.
I wanted to wait a couple of days before writing anything, letting the departure of Chooch sink in fully, before trying to write anything that might have been overly emotional or sentimental in the immediate aftermath of the deal.
Unfortunately, that is simply not possible with the Phillies primary catcher for the vast majority of the past decade, one of the pieces in what I have come to refer to as the Phils’ “Core Five” that dominated the National League for a half-decade or so.
Along with teammates Jimmy RollinsChase UtleyRyan Howard, and Cole Hamels, Ruiz helped the Phillies win five consecutive NL East crowns from 2007-11.
The group won the 2008 World Series together, back-to-back NL Pennants in 2008-09, and set a franchise record with 102 victories in the 2011 season.
With all of the victories came a cleansing of sorts. More than a century of mostly frustrating futility from the franchise, aside from the oasis from the mid-70’s through early-80’s, was washed away.
Chooch and company turned Citizens Bank Park in South Philly into the city’s place to be
, and every one of those players will be remembered with fondness by generations of fans, vetted in ceremonial reunions for decades to come.
I never played professional baseball, so I’m not going to pretend that I know what the grind of trying to catch 130 or so games over the course of a 162-game Major League Baseball season is like.
However, for the better part of a decade and a half, I played men’s softball and was a catcher. I know what it is like to squat behind home plate, to work an umpire, to frame pitches.
Over those years I was involved in home plate collisions, picked off runners at first base, positioned fielders on defense, and communicated well with my pitchers. My primary team won six championships over a decade between 1985-94.
Bottom line is, I have a nice appreciation for catchers, who have always held a special place in my heart and for whom I have a great deal of respect.
I think that my own playing experience and my general knowledge of the game over the last 45 years gives me a solid base from which to make evaluations on their worth.
To say that Carlos Ruiz is the 4th best catcher that I have seen in a Phillies uniform during my lifetime is absolutely no slight to the beloved Chooch. In fact, I place him in elite company as one of the four greatest in that time.
The other three whom I would rank ahead of him are all Phillies Wall of Famers. In chronological order they are: Bob BooneDarren Daulton, and Mike Lieberthal.
Jul 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame member Boone during the Burrell (not pictured) induction ceremony before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Boonie was the Phillies catcher of my youth. The club’s 6th round choice in the 1969 MLB Amateur Draft out of Stanford University, he made his big league debut in 1972, and by the following year was the team’s starting backstop.
Boone squatted behind the plate for 1,095 games over parts of ten seasons between 1972-81. He finished 3rd in the 1973 NL Rookie of the Year voting, was a three-time NL All-Star while with the club, and won NL Gold Gloves in 1978-79.
That was just his Phillies work. Sold to the Angels in December 1982 at age 33, Boone would go on to catch through age 42 in 1990, adding another five Gold Gloves and a 1983 All-Star appearance while in the American League.
During his decade in red pinstripes, Boone hit for a .259 average with 65 homers, 456 RBI, and 349 runs scored. He was probably second only to the legendary Hall of Famer Johnny Bench for defensive excellence behind the plate in the NL during the 1970’s.
Daulton was the Phillies 25th round pick in the MLB Amateur Draft during the summer of 1980, joining the organization while Boonie and his mates were marching towards the franchise’ first-ever World Series championship.
Jul 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame member Daulton during the Burrell (not pictured) induction ceremony before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
The man who would become beloved here in his own right was known affectionately as “Dutch”, and he made his own big league debut in a cameo with the 1983 “Wheeze Kids” team that won a National League Pennant.
Daulton would suffer a series of debilitating knee injuries during his career, but finally emerged as the primary catcher in 1989, a role he would maintain for the better part of the next eight years as he caught in 965 games for the Phillies.
In 1993, Dutch was the team captain, leader of the “Macho Row” band of misfits and mullets who stormed the National League in a worst-to-first campaign that took them all the way to Game Six of the World Series before they were finally stopped.
Moving on to the Florida Marlins in a deal just prior to the 1997 trade deadline, Daulton became an immediate locker room presence on a team of veterans, helping them to the first playoff appearance in franchise history, and ultimately the first World Series crown as well that fall.
An NL All-Star in 1992, 1993, and 1995 while with the Phillies, Daulton hit for a .245/.357/.427 slash line with 137 homers, 588 RBI, 511 runs scored, and even stole 50 bags over parts of 14 seasons with the Fightin’ Phils.
Lieberthal was the highest draftee of the bunch, the 3rd overall pick in the 1st round of the 1990 MLB Amateur Draft out of a California high school.
Jul 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame member Lieberthal during the Burrell (not pictured) induction ceremony before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
He made cameos with the 1994-95 Phillies, and then began to take over partially for Daulton during the 1996 season. He earned the starting job by 1997, moving Dutch to a role at 1st base and in the outfield.
Over the course of 13 seasons with the Phillies, Lieby set a team record by catching in 1,139 games. He banged out 150 home runs, drove in 609 runs, scored 528 times, and had a .275/.338/.450 slash line.
Lieberthal was an NL All-Star in both 1999 and 2000, and he won the National League Gold Glove Award in the 1999 season.
He was the catcher during the lean years of the late-1990’s, helped the club move through the end of the Veteran’s Stadium era and into Citizens Bank Park, and was able to hang on until just before the recent Glory Era began.
Boone was elected into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2005, Daulton was honored in 2010, and Lieberthal was enshrined in the 2012 season. They are the three greatest catchers in franchise history.
At some point in the next few years, that trio will be rightly joined in the Phillies Wall of Fame by Chooch, who earned his place with his individual play and with his contributions to a championship team.
Assuming he never plays another game in a Phils uniform, Ruiz finishes with 1,029 games behind the dish, third behind Lieberthal and Boone in club history.
Ruiz was a 2012 National League All-Star, and received NL Most Valuable Player votes each year following the 2010-12 seasons. He produced 68 homers, 401 RBI, 388 runs scored, and hit for a .266/.352/.393 slash line over parts of 11 seasons with the Phillies.
I have so many great personal memories of all of these players. But I do have three particular memories of Chooch that will always stand out more than any others from his career. I am sure most Phillies fans who followed the club during his career remember them well.
The first came from that 2008 World Series victory. His slow dribbler to 3rd base that brought Eric Bruntlett charging home with the walkoff game-winner in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game Three, a win that moved the Phillies up 2-1 on the Tampa Bay Rays.
The second came on his end of what has famously become known in Phillies lore as “Utley’s Deke”,  the play that I consider, along with Richie Ashburn’s throw in the bottom of the 9th inning of the final game of the 1950 season, to be one of the two greatest defensive plays in franchise history.
I am talking about the tremendous heads-up fake throw to first and strike to the plate by Chase that kept the Phillies tied at 3-3 in the top of the 7th inning of the decisive Game Five during that 2008 World Series.
While everyone properly credits and remembers Utley for the play, the fact is that without a tremendous finish on the back-end of that same play by Chooch, taking the ball and diving out to catch Rays’ shortstop Jason Bartlett at the plate, it doesn’t work.
The final of my three favorite Chooch moments was one that my wife and I had the pleasure to witness in person from a hundred feet above, sitting in the upper deck above the 1st base bag, a little bit out into right field
It was the top of the 9th inning of Game Two of the 2010 National League Division Series between the Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds, and Phils pitcher Roy Halladay had a no-hitter going with two outs.
Brandon Phillips was the batter, and the speedy Cincy 2nd baseman took a two-strike hack at an offering from Doc, dribbling it out in front of the plate.
Chooch scrambled out from behind the dish, nearly tripped over Phillips’ bat, which had fallen in his path, and from his knees fired a strike to nail the runner by a stride, preserving the no-hitter and giving the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the series.
The trade details are really of no consequence. I have written a number of times over the past year or so regarding potential trades of both Chooch and The Big Piece.
I have always stated that any trades of these respected, aging veterans would simply be deals that would allow them to get one more shot at contending while bringing little back in return.
In the end, Ruiz was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the same place that JRoll was traded in December of 2014, and that Chase was sent a season ago.
In fact, Utley is still there, and he and Chooch will again be teammates as they try to win another World Series title at the end of their careers.
Coming back to the Phillies are veteran catcher A.J. Ellis, pitching prospect Tommy Bergjans, and a player to be named later.
Ellis will be a free agent following this season, and likely finishes the year as Cameron Rupp‘s backup with the Phils.
Jul 22, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Rupp (29) reacts as home plate umpire Tony Randazzo (R) addresses both benches during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Phillies have a pair of catching prospects who are nearly ready to contribute to the big league club in Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro.
The latter is likely to see time with the Phillies in September, and both will come to spring training next year with a shot at making the team.
Bergjans was the Dodgers pick in the 8th round of the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft following his graduation as a senior at Haverford College in the Philly suburbs.
The 23-year old righty had an outstanding 133/29 K:BB ratio over 130 innings at High-A, but had also allowed 138 hits and had a 4.98 ERA in 24 games, 21 of those as starts.
He is not considered a top prospect, but will become an interesting organizational arm with the Phillies, probably slated for the AA Reading Fightin’ Phils next year.
As for the PTBNL, that could be almost anything, or could end up nothing.
That Ruiz is only fourth on the all-time club catching rankings is really not an “only”, and is again no slight. The three ahead of him rank among the greatest players in Phillies franchise history.
The fact is that Chooch leaves behind his own unforgettable legacy, one that will remain positive with all Phillies fans who got to enjoy watching him play. He will take his place alongside his fellow catching greats with a plaque on the wall in Ashburn Alley soon enough.

Phillies Enduring a See-Saw 2016 Season

At the beginning of the 2016 Major League Baseball regular season, more than four months ago now, I came out with my predictions for the upcoming Phillies season.
In that prediction piece, I picked the club to finish a dozen games better than their putrid bottom-of-baseball 2015 campaign, going 75-87 when the books were closed on 2016.
That would mean that my prediction would show the Phillies to have played at a .463 pace over the course of this season. So where are the Phils now?
On this day off in the schedule, the Phillies sit at 58-67 for a .464 winning percentage. To this point, nearly five months in, the club is pretty much exactly on the pace that I predicted at the beginning.
But if you think back, there was a point in the season where everyone following the team was getting a bit ahead of themselves.
The team last reached their 2016 high-water mark of seven games over the .500 mark at 24-17 on Wednesday, May 18th
following a 4-2 win over the division-rival Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
Things were looking good, with the worst team in baseball at the time, the Atlanta Braves, coming to town for three games. There was talk of a sweep, and 10 games over .500, and, gulp, Wildcard playoff contention.
Unfortunately things did not go as planned. Those Braves came in and won the first two games of the series, and that series defeat was the beginning of a month that completely wrecked the Phillies 2016 campaign.
Between May 20th and June 26th, the Phillies would go just 8-28, a harrowing .222 stretch of play that made the horrendous 2015 season seem like the good ol’ days.
In the two months since, the club has put together a 26-22 record. It has been an up-and-down, see-saw type of season for the Fightin’ Phils and the fans who have gone along for the sometimes exhilarating, sometimes nauseating, but ultimately frustrating ride.
These Phillies are at a point in their rebuilding process where they are good enough to beat the worst teams most of the time, but are not good enough to take out the really good teams on most nights or in most series.
They also do not have enough overall talent to get on any type of sustained run of winning. There was a six-game winning streak during their early season success in late April.
That win streak in combination with another early stretch where they won six of seven and eight of 11 games in the first half of May is what pushed their record to that high-water mark.
Just when it looked like they could potentially sink back to the bottom of Major League Baseball, the club went on another tear in late June and early July, winning eight of nine at one stretch as part of a lengthier stretch of 13-6 that pulled them within a half-dozen games of the .500 mark.
Then the MLB All-Star Game came, the team took a four-day break, and came out of that break ice-cold. The Phillies went 6-11 after the break, going nearly three weeks without winning back-to-back games.
From August 2nd through the 14th, the Phillies again got on a roll, winning eight of 12 games to pull back within seven games of the .500 mark. It is the closest they would come before losing four of six to the Dodgers and Cardinals over the past week.
So what have we learned through this see-saw ride? Without looking at any statistics or individual player performances, and only worrying about wins and losses, we get the big picture look of the 2016 season.
As I predicted at the beginning, this season is better than last year. The Phillies are not abysmal. They are not the laughingstock of baseball.
But what the Phillies are, besides somewhat improved and a little more experienced, is still short in talent and still in need of more maturity and growth.
They are right on target with my preseason prediction because I made that prediction based solely on that hard look at the reality of the team’s situation.
You almost never go from being the worst team in baseball to a playoff contender overnight. The Phillies were not spending a ton of money and/or trading prospects for veterans to suddenly build up talent.
This was a publicly stated rebuilding process that stayed on course, and in fact doubled down on that process with the trade of Ken Giles to Houston for a (hopefully) rich prospect package.
The only reasonable prediction was for better, but still not good enough. Winning more, but still not a winner. That is exactly where the team has proven themselves to be at this point.
Aug 17, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Thompson (44) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Here is the Phillies 2016 calendar month-by-month performance thus far:
APRIL (14-10)
MAY (12-16)
JUNE (9-19)
JULY (13-14)
AUGUST (10-8)
There are now just 37 games remaining. The Phillies would have to finish 5-32 to equal last season’s wretched mark. That won’t happen.
They would need to finish with a 17-20 mark over the next six weeks in order to reach my 75-87 prediction from the start of the season. That is very doable, and in fact is the pace they are now on.
The real question is, can the Phillies show any improvement over these final six weeks? It would take a 23-14 mark to finish at .500 for the season. Despite some injuries and the normal attrition of a long season, it is possible.
In these final six weeks, 29 of the last 37 games are against NL East Division rivals. The Phils are 22-25 against those five rivals thus far.
Aside from that, there are four games with the Chicago White Sox, a losing team, and four games at home against Pittsburgh, a club just three games over .500 right now.
The Phillies can realistically finish with a .500 season, beating my prediction by a half-dozen games. To do so, the offense will have to produce more consistently, and the pitching will need to firm up despite recent injuries.
It is a lot to ask, going from the worst team in baseball to a break-even team in one year with no major free agent additions, but it is a possibility if players such as Maikel FrancoOdubel HerreraAaron AltherrCesar Hernandez, and Tommy Joseph finish strong.
Can the club’s top pitching prospect, Jake Thompson, begin to flash the strong form at the MLB level that he was showing at AAA? That would help the club weather the injuries that have cost the club youngster Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin for the year.
Of course, it is possible that the team will collapse under the weight of the pitching injuries, especially if it suffers any losses in the lineup.
The Phillies franchise, and the fan base, deserve a final six weeks closer to the good possibility than the ugly, if only as repayment for what we endured a year ago.

Reading Eagle: Phillies 2016 Top Prospects Survey

Over the last couple of seasons, especially over the last calendar year, a concerted effort finally began to completely rebuild the Phillies minor league system.
The results have been dramatic. Nearly every respected prospect evaluation resource places the Phillies organization near the top of their organizational rankings, and a number of the club’s best individual prospects are featured across the most influential Top 50 and Top 100 lists.
Those changes to the young talent flowing through the organization have already begun to yield results at the big league level, as inconsistent as some of those youngsters may still be at this early point in their careers.
Pitchers Aaron NolaJerad EickhoffZach EflinVincent Velasquez, and now Jake Thompson all entered the Phillies organization in the last two years through trades or the MLB Amateur Draft, and all have already debuted with the Phillies starting pitching rotation.
Among position players, Maikel Franco is in his first full big league season at 3rd base, Tommy Joseph is showing power at 1st base, and center fielder Odubel Herrera followed up his 2015 rookie campaign with an appearance in the NL All-Star Game this year.
Now a new, even younger group of highly regarded prospects is beginning to make their move, having reached the highest levels of the club’s minor league system.
They are poised to make their own Phillies debut, some next month, some next year.
A few will be impacting the big league lineup within a year, and a few more should be impacting the team by the 2018 season.
At the ‘Reading Eagle’, home newspaper of the Phillies’ AA farm team, the Reading Fightin’ Phils, Mike Drago conducts a survey of beat writers, bloggers, and broadcasters who cover the Phillies and their system in print and on the internet.
For a 2nd straight season, I was honored to take part in this survey. This year, 15 of us took part in the balloting, and the results were released this past weekend.
Based on that survey, the Top 20 Philadelphia Phillies prospects at this time are:
  1. J.P. Crawford, SS, AAA
  2. Jorge Alfaro, C, AA
  3. Nick Williams, OF, AAA
  4. Jake Thompson, P, Phillies
  5. Mickey Moniak, OF, GCL
  6. Dylan Cozens, OF, AA
  7. Roman Quinn, OF, AA
  8. Cornelius Randolph, OF, A
  9. Franklyn Kilome, P, A
  10. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, AA
  11. Scott Kingery, 2B, AA
  12. Andrew Knapp, C, AAA
  13. Adonis Medina, P, NYP
  14. Nick Pivetta, P, AAA
  15. Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, GCL
  16. Ricardo Pinto, P, AA
  17. Elniery Garcia, P, High-A
  18. Ben Lively, P, AAA
  19. Kevin Gowdy, P, GCL
  20. Carlos Tocci, OF, High-A
In addition to those 20 players, another 15 Phillies prospects each received support in the form of multiple votes from the survey respondents.
Those players in order of the number of votes received were: Mark AppelSixto SanchezJimmy CorderoCole StobbeJose PujolsAlberto TiradoAlec AsherThomas EshelmanDrew AndersonAndrew PullinCole Irvin, Arquimedes Gamboa, JoJo RomeroMalquin Canelo, and Tyler Viza.
Crawford was not the unanimous selection that he had been in previous iterations of this type of Phillies prospect list. He did, however, receive a first place vote from nine of the respondents.
This left the talented shortstop, who also ranks among the Top 10 prospects in all of baseball by nearly every major evaluation resource, as the first player to ever finish at the top of the Reading Eagle rankings over three consecutive seasons.
The other six first place votes went to Moniak and Thompson, who received two apiece, as well as Williams and Hoskins, who each received a single first place vote. (As a personal aside, I don’t know what whoever gave Hoskins a first place ballot was drinking.)
Cozens was the high-riser from a year ago, when he finished down in the #24 spot. Meanwhile, Randolph saw himself dip from 4th to 8th as the steepest drop in the Top 10.
In all, 46 different Phillies prospects received a Top 20 vote from at least one of the survey respondents.
With all this talent pouring into Citizens Bank Park over the next two to three years, the future looks bright for the Phillies, even as the big league club continues to struggle.
NOTE: my own Top 25 Phillies Prospects ranking, which was what we were requested to submit, were in the following order:
Crawford, Alfaro, Moniak, Thompson, Williams, Quinn, Randolph, Gowdy, Kilome, Kingery, Cozens, Ortiz, Appel, Lively, Knapp, Medina, Stobbe, Hoskins, Tocci, Pivetta, Pinto, Canelo, Romero, Eshelman, Irvin.

Reunion With Chase Not so Grand for Phillies

It is very seldom that an actual Major League Baseball game takes a backseat to some event unfolding within the context of that game, but such was the case on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
A mid-week crowd of more than 28,000 were in attendance, and the odds are that the majority were there for the same reason, to personally welcome back a former favored son, Chase Utley.
Utley, the Phillies record-setting and World Series-winning 2nd baseman for more than a decade was back with his new club, the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was Utley’s first appearance in South Philly since being dealt away to LA last August.
The fans and Utley responded well, with the fans giving the player affectionately known in these parts as “The Man” a roaring standing ovation
as he stepped to the plate to lead off the top of the 1st inning.
Utley walked up accompanied by his signature walkup music, “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin, and to a celebratory player introduction by longtime Phillies PA announcer Dan Baker as the fans roared for nearly two minutes.
Chase responded with a tip of his cap to all corners of the park. He then proceeded to coax catcher Cameron Rupp back into position so that the game could begin, and proceeded to provide an anticlimactic moment by striking out.
Rupp would give the home side an early lead, bombing a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the 2nd inning off Dodgers’ starting pitcher Kenta Maeda. It would be the only lead of the night for the Phils.
The Phillies held that lead in front of starting pitcher Vincent Velasquez into the top of the 5th, with Utley popping up easily into left field in his 2nd plate appearance along the way.
But in that top of the 5th, Howie Kendrick lined a one-out, two-run homer to center field, putting the Dodgers on top by a 2-1 score. One batter later, Utley stepped in once again, and provided the moment that he and the fans were hoping to see.
On a 2-2 pitch from Velasquez, Utley crushed a ball deep out over the center field wall for his 9th home run of the season. He circled the bases to a rousing standing ovation from the fans, who then also called him out for a tip of the cap, believed to be a first for a visiting player.
Aug 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Utley (26) signs autographs before game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Utley (26) signs autographs before game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The blast gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead, and would prove to be only the beginning in what would become a blowout. With two outs in the 6th, Adrian Gonzalez singled, and then Yasmani Grandal blasted a two-run homer to open the game up at 5-1.
In the bottom of the 6th, Cesar Hernandez ripped his 3rd homer of the season, a solo shot that pulled the Phillies back within 5-2. It would be the closest they would get the rest of the night.
Velasquez (8-5) would last just 5.2 innings, and left having been charged with five earned runs on seven hits. He did have a sensational 10/1 K:BB ratio, but the Dodgers long balls proved his undoing.
Then came the top of the 7th, the end of the competitive portion of the game, and another incredible moment for Utley.
The Dodgers put together a four run rally on three hits, three walks, and a hit batter to push their lead out to a 9-2 margin. Then, with the bases loaded and two out, Utley stepped in again.
On a 1-1 pitch from reliever Michael Mariot, Utley crushed his 10th home run of the year, a grand slam that again electrified the crowd, who brought him out for yet another curtain call.
The blast upped the LA lead to an insurmountable 13-2, and the Dodgers would ultimately cruise to a 15-5 victory.
However, the game wouldn’t end without one interesting Phillies moment. With all the understandable emotion involving Utley, one of his key compadres from those great 2000’s teams decided to get in on the action.
In the bottom of the 7th, Ryan Howard blasted his 18th home run of the year deep to center field, giving the fans a flashback to the great old days when homers from Utley and Howard were leading Phillies teams to big victories and division crowns on a regular basis.
It was a bit surreal at the beautiful ballpark last night. The Phillies were crushed, and yet few fans left feeling slighted. 
Chase saw to that with his heroics, making more memories down at Citizens Bank Park. Unfortunately, these memories were bittersweet, rather than just plain old sweet.
“We’ve had some great times here with great teams and played hard,” Utley said per contributors“Philly fans recognize the guys that play the game the right way. Like I said, they’ll always have a special place in my heart for sure.”
Chase Utley, you ARE ‘The Man’.