No June swoon, but Phillies cracks beginning to show

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June proved difficult for first-year skipper Gabe Kapler

Turned out that the Major League baseball schedule makers were not kind to this improved Philadelphia Phillies ball club.

The Phillies ended May with a 31-23 record. Those eight games above .500 marked the first time since the 2012 season that the team ended May above the break-even point.

But a glance ahead at that June schedule revealed that this young bunch had a big challenge ahead of them. It would begin with a difficult road trip. Three games in San Francisco against an improved Giants squad. Three at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, one of the NL’s top teams.

It didn’t begin well. The Phillies dropped five of those six games. It didn’t get much better on their return home. The Milwaukee Brewers, leading the NL Central, came in to Citizens Bank Park and blew their doors off in the first two games, scoring a dozen runs in each.

At that point, the Phillies were 1-7 on the month, and appeared to be fading fast. The Colorado Rockies, who always seem to play the Phils tough, were coming to town for three. That would be followed by a trip out to Milwaukee for three more with the Brew Crew.

Just as it seemed like their season might slip away, manager Gabe Kapler got his club to respond. They edged Milwaukee in the series finale here, then took two of three from the Rockies. Perhaps most impressively, they traveled to Miller Park and won two of three over a mid-month weekend.

Having now won five of seven, the Phillies welcomed another tough team to South Philly in the Saint Louis Cardinals. The Phils again captured two of three, and then won two of three in Washington as well. The only two defeats in those series came when the bullpen blew what should have been comfortable victories.

When the dust cleared last weekend in D.C., the Phillies were once again eight games over the .500 mark. And now perhaps the toughest test of all would come. The Bronx Bombers were coming to Philly.

The New York Yankees arrived in town with baseball’s best record. They also brought their fans with them, as fired up Yankees fans swarmed Citizens Bank Park.

When the Yanks took the first two games, it appeared that the Phillies were getting a lesson in true contention. However, Zach Eflin road in on his white horse and blanked the Bombers in the series finale, once again salvaging Phillies fans hopes.

Now the Phillies are in the midst of a four-game weekend series with the Nationals, the first three of which will close out the calendar month. Despite a crushing 17-7 defeat on Friday night in which Nick Pivetta was driven out early by Washington, they remain six games over the .500 mark.

The Phillies have survived an extremely brutal schedule in June. A win over the Nationals on Saturday night would leave them with a 13-15 record for the month.

However, they will indeed have a losing month, their first such month this season. Cracks were revealed in every area of the roster.

In the rotation and bullpen, the lineup and bench, if these cracks are not filled by management and ownership soon, they could become gaping holes that could still sink this promising ship.

The Phillies appear to have an emerging young ace in Aaron Nola, and the suspicion is that veteran Jake Arrieta will be just fine as the #2 starter. But there still have to be questions about the ability of Eflin, Pivetta, and Vincent Velasquez. A more proven veteran addition to the rotation could prove invaluable in the second half.

Aside from youngsters Seranthony Dominguez and Victor Arano, every bullpen option has proven inconsistent at best to Kapler. The expected return of Pat Neshek should help. Aside from that, the club probably needs to hope for improvement from Tommy Hunter. But a veteran lefty would make a nice addition.

The bench right now has no true, veteran pinch-hitting options to strike fear into the opposition. When either Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams aren’t starting in the outfield, they are easily the best such options. After that, it’s either Pedro Florimon, Jesmuel Valentin, or Dylan Cozens.

And the regular everyday lineup is very inconsistent. The Phillies are 18th among MLB’s 30 clubs in Runs scored. They are 15th in Home Runs, and 19th in both Steals and OPS. Defensively, the club ranks just 27th in Fielding Percentage.

To me, one part of the Phillies problems defensively has been the juggling of some position players, as well as the playing of a couple out of their accustomed positions. I don’t see them changing their philosophy in this regard in the short term, so inconsistent defense could remain a problem for now.

General Manager Matt Klentak and owner John Middleton are squarely under the spotlight beginning in July and moving through the coming off-season. The foundation appears to be here for the next contending Phillies team. But these cracks are very real, and they need to be filled with serious ball players.

Some improvement will come from young players currently on the roster improving. But for guys like Scott Kingery and Rhys Hoskins, that will mean more stable playing time at a comfortable position. For someone like Nick Williams, it means an everyday role.

But much of the push towards true ultimate championship contention will have to come from the addition via trade and/or free agency of more talented players.

The Phillies dipped their toes in such waters this past off-season by adding Arrieta and Carlos Santana, as misguided as the latter signing was for their future. They’ll need a couple more of those moves to stay in contention this year, and to move to more consistent contending status in the coming years.

Should Phillies bring home Cole Hamels?

Could the Phillies bring back former hero Cole Hamels?

As the month of June draws to a close, this weekend also marks the exact halfway point to the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season.

One month from this weekend, the MLB non-waiver trade deadline will arrive. The Philadelphia Phillies, emerging from a half-decade of irrelevance, are once again emerging as playoff contenders.

The Phillies have a number of holes which need to be filled in order to remain legitimate contenders in the current season. As that trade deadline draws closer and rumors begin to heat up, Phillies fans find their team has been frequently involved in the gossip.

The most glaring need may be at least one proven run producer for the middle of their batting order. That hitter would preferably play on the left side of the infield, or at a corner outfield spot. Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles, who could slot in at either shortstop or third base, is the biggest name being tossed around.

The club also could use help in the bullpen. A pair of 23-year old right-handers, Seranthony Dominguez and Victor Arano, are the only currently healthy members of the bullpen who have been consistently reliable.

I also believe that the Phillies are going to need one more strong, proven veteran starting pitcher for their rotation. Behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, and possibly Zach Eflin if he remains healthy and effective, one more veteran would really solidify them for the second half.

I’ve written previously that a good option moving forward would be an immediate move of Vincent Velasquez to the bullpen. Adding that veteran starting pitcher could allow this switch to happen. I believe it would strengthen the back of the relief corps as well, taking care of two needs.

One option who has frequently been linked to the Phillies, especially among the fan base, is former World Series hero Cole Hamels. The Texas Rangers, to whom the Phils traded the lefty three years ago, are actively shopping the now 34-year old.

Hamels is 4-6 this season with a 3.61 ERA and 1.274 WHIP. He has surrendered 87 hits over 97.1 innings pitched across 16 starts with a 97/37 K:BB ratio. Those are all solid numbers, and would certainly upgrade the current Phillies rotation.

However, there are some red flags with Hamels. His current FIP mark of 5.22 is well above the 4.09 MLB average. That mark ranks him just 87th of 91 pitchers who have recorded at least 80 innings pitched and a dozen starts.

His biggest problem this season has been the long ball. Hamels has already surrendered 20 home runs, two more than he allowed all of last season. He has never given up more than 28 in any full season previously.

Corey Seidman for NBC Sports Philadelphia addressed the possible reasons for those troubles in a recent article regarding a possible reunion between Hamels and the Phillies:

“Some of that is because he’s around the plate often with a fastball that averages 91 mph; some of it is because the Rangers’ home park is among the most homer-friendly venues in baseball.”

Citizens Bank Park is no picnic for fly ball pitchers either. Globe Life Park in Texas ranks as the second-toughest for pitchers as far as surrendering home runs. Citizens Bank Park is 10th among the 30 ball parks in Major League Baseball.

However, Hamels won 114 games here over a full decade between 2006-15. He certainly is comfortable here, and knows how to make adjustments at the South Philly park.

The Phillies are already paying $2.5 million of his $23.5 million contract for this year. With the season halfway over, they would be on the hook for the rest of that money, roughly $11 million. There is also a $20 million team option for next season, which they would presumably pick up.

That money wouldn’t hurt the Phillies in any way. The club has plenty to spend both this season and next. But bringing back Hamels would not only cost some cash, it would also cost the Phillies something from their minor league system.

That is where the answer can be found as to whether or not the Phillies should consider bringing Cole Hamels back to bolster their rotation for a couple of years. What would that prospect package look like?

You also have to factor the possibility of the Phillies going after a big bat such as Machado. That deal would certainly involve more, and more valuable, prospects than would be needed in a Hamels trade.

The Phillies do have the minor league talent to get a Hamels or Machado deal done. In fact, they have enough to get both deals done. But should they pay the price? That is the big question for GM Matt Klentak and owner John Middleton to decide in the coming days and weeks.

I believe that the return of Hamels would not only be a great story, it would also help the Phillies. The money is not an object. And I also believe that the price in prospects would be reasonable.

Should the Phillies bring home Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series and NLCS Most Valuable Player? As long as that prospect package is indeed reasonable, you have to vote ‘Yes’ on this proposition.

And then there were four

Jayson Werth raises 2008 World Series trophy

On Wednesday night, October 29, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park, the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays took to the field to resume Game Five of the World Series.

The Phillies had fought their way to a 3-1 lead in the Fall Classic, and needed just one more victory to secure only the second world championship in franchise history.

Game Five had originally begun two nights earlier, on Monday, October 27. However, rain began to fall early on that night, and grew to torrential proportions by the middle innings.

After the Rays tied the game up at 2-2 in the top of the 6th inning, Major League Baseball finally stepped in, and the game was suspended.

After two days of rains, the two clubs finally re-took the field in South Philadelphia. Geoff Jenkins got the home crowd stoked immediately, bombing a double to center field off of Rays reliever Grant Balfour. Jimmy Rollins then bunted him over to third base.

With the go-ahead run just 90 feet away from home plate, Jayson Werth stepped into the box. On a 2-2 pitch, the Phillies right fielder looped a base hit into center field, scoring Jenkins to put the Phils back on top 3-2.

The two clubs would trade runs in the final frames, and the Phillies would memorably mob closer Brad Lidge on the mound after the final out.

Just yesterday, while playing in the minor leagues of the Washington Nationals organization, Werth revealed that he was retiring from professional baseball.

This brings to the end a career that saw him appear with the Toronto Blue Jays (2002-03), Los Angeles Dodgers (2004-05), Phillies (2007-10) and the Nationals (2011-17) over parts of 15 seasons.

During his four seasons with the Phillies, Werth produced a strong .282/.380/.506 slash line. He slammed 95 homers, drove in 300 runs, scored 320 times, and stole 60 bases.

Compare those numbers to those produced by Jim Thome in his four seasons here in Philadelphia, and you will find that Werth is certainly worthy of consideration to be enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame at some point in the future.

However, he is going to have to wait a bit. Most of those 2008 World Series champions are now gone from the game. A number of them are going to be honored before Werth can be considered.

Left fielder Pat Burrell is already on the Wall of Fame. ‘Pat the Bat’ played his final season with the San Francisco Giants in 2011.

Third baseman Pedro Feliz last appeared in the big leagues with the Saint Louis Cardinals in 2010. He bounced around the minors, winter leagues, and independent leagues for a couple of years, and has not played at all since 2014.

The center fielder, Shane Victorino, won another World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. ‘The Flyin’ Hawaiian’ last played for the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2015.

It was a mid-season 2016 career finale with the Chicago White Sox for Jimmy Rollins. The heart and soul of the Phillies for a decade and a half and the franchise’ all-time Hits leader, ‘JRoll’ could make an intriguing candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame one day.

Ryan Howard never wore another uniform in a regular season MLB game other than that of the Philadelphia Phillies, finishing up his career here with the 2016 season.

He tried a comeback last year with both the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies, but ‘The Big Piece’ couldn’t get out of either minor league system. While not officially retired, he is not getting back to the big leagues.

Carlos Ruiz was with the Phillies into the 2016 season, during which he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. ‘Chooch’ played in 53 games last year with the Seattle Mariners, but at age 39 has been unable to catch (pun intended) on with any club here in the 2018 campaign. His career also appears to be over.

The key bench players, Jenkins, Chris Coste, Eric Bruntlett, Matt Stairs, and Greg Dobbs are all long gone from the playing field. Dobbs was the last, playing with the Nationals and Miami Marlins during the 2014 campaign.

On the mound, the ‘Ancient Mariner’, local hero Jamie Moyer, finally aged out of the game after hanging around into his age 49 season with the Colorado Rockies in 2012.

Brett Myers had a few successful years with the Houston Astros. His career ended after four appearances with the Cleveland Indians in the 2014 season. He has now transitioned into a country music recording career.

A home run hero in that World Series, Joe Blanton was able to transition into a successful reliever for a few teams, including a pivotal role with an LA Dodgers team that reached the NLCS in 2016. He finished up with the Nats a year ago, and is now into wine production in northern California.

Two men pitched at the back end of the Phillies rotation that season, Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton. Kendrick got back to the bigs last year with the Boston Red Sox, but has not been able to catch on anywhere this year. He appears done at just age 33. Eaton last pitched in the 2009 season with the Colorado Rockies.

Lidge stayed with the Phillies through the 2011 season, then had one more year with the Nationals in 2012. Chad Durbin and J.C. Ramirez of the ‘Bridge to Lidge’ bullpen finished up in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Durbin wrapped his career with 16 final ineffective innings with the Phillies.

Clay Condrey and Scott Eyre were two more key members of that bullpen. Each retired following the 2009 return to the World Series with the Phillies.

So if you are wondering if anyone is left, the answer would be that there are now just four active players in Major League Baseball who played with those 2008 World Series champion Phillies.

Cole Hamels is still with the Texas Rangers after being dealt for a big package of prospects in late July 2015. He is actually now once again considered a trade candidate, and at age 34 could even return to the Phillies.

A 25-year old at the time, J.A. Happ appeared in just eight games with those 2008 Phillies, making just four starts. He was dealt to the Houston Astros in 2010 as part of the Roy Oswalt trade, and has had a solid big league career. Happ is another valuable trade candidate now at age 35 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The best story of this dwindling group belongs to relief pitcher Ryan Madson. Now 37 years old, Madson was passed over by the Phillies when he became a free agent following the 2011 season.

Madson signed with the Cincinnati Reds for $6 million. He would never pitch in Cincinnati, suffering a torn ligament in his right elbow during spring training of 2012. Missing the entire season and most of 2013, he was unable to get back to the big leagues. When no one signed him for 2014, Madson retired.

But that was not the end of his story. After three seasons away from MLB due to that elbow injury, Madson decided to give it one more try. He was signed by the Kansas City Royals, and incredibly made the team. Not only that, he became one of the most effective relievers in baseball once again, helping the Royals to win the World Series in 2015.

Madson has continued his late-career renaissance, earning himself $20 million worth of contracts over the last three seasons. He continues to pitch out of the Washington Nationals bullpen, and Phillies fans will likely get a chance to see him this weekend.

That leaves one man to cover, and he is ‘The Man’, Chase Utley. Now aged 39, the gray-haired Utley is still plugging away with the Los Angeles Dodgers out in his native California.

Long past the all-star days when he was the game’s top second baseman, Chase provides a veteran presence off the bench in his fourth season for a Dodgers team that hopes to contend.

Jayson Werth is retiring, and then there were four. Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Ryan Madson. Who knows, we might even get to see one of them back in a Phillies uniform before they finally decide to hang it up for good. It won’t be long. Another two or three years, perhaps, and they will all be gone from the game for good.

But for Phillies fans, they will never be forgotten, and they will be feted at numerous reunions in the future. In fact, the first of those will officially take place on August 5 of this season. That night, the Phillies will honor the 10th anniversary with a formal reunion on Alumni weekend.

The odds just became greater that Werth will be able to join the others already scheduled to attend. But since it’s a Sunday, and all the MLB teams will be scheduled to play, you won’t see the other four. There own reunion is coming, certainly by the 20th anniversary in 2028.

What do the Phillies have at the back of the rotation?

Zach Eflin hopes to be long term member of Phils rotation

The Philadelphia Phillies have been experiencing a number of problems over the past two months. Since April 25, the team has struggled along with a 20-24 record.

Fingers have mostly been pointed at an offense that is now 12th of the 15 National League clubs in both OPS and Runs scored.

There have also been numerous critics of the constant lineup and positional juggling by rookie manager Gabe Kapler, including from yours truly.

One area where the Phillies have generally received solid performances on a consistent basis has been the front of their starting pitching rotation.

Aaron Nola has broken out to legitimate ace status. He is currently 8-2 with a 2.27 ERA, a minuscule 0.934 WHIP, and a fantastic 90/22 K:BB ratio. He has yielded just 63 hits over 91 innings across 14 starts.

Having turned just 25 years old earlier this month and not eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season, Nola should be counted on as a key cog moving forward.

Veteran free agent signee Jake Arrieta has been less consistent than Nola, but has still been generally effective. Even after a poor outing last night, the 32-year old is 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA, and has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched. He’ll be fine.

It is the back end of that Phillies starting rotation the brings the most open questions. Is Vince Velasquez actually a starting pitcher long term, and not better utilized out of the bullpen?

Are either or both of Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin starting pitchers who can be counted on for the long term as the Phillies build toward true contention?

Velasquez, who came to the Phillies as part of the Ken Giles trade with Houston, is the most interesting. He clearly has dominating stuff at times, as he demonstrated in his most recent outing on Thursday afternoon when he surrendered just one hit to the Colorado Rockies over 6.2 innings.

But the problem with Velasquez, who turned 26 years of age earlier this month, has never been pure stuff. He has shown that kind of dominance before.

The problem is that the talented right-hander never carries it forward with any consistency, usually following up a great game or two with another three or four less-than-satisfactory efforts.

Pivetta, who arrived from Washington in a trade for Jonathan Papelbon, is a 25-year old right-hander. He is just 4-6 this season with a slightly elevated 4.25 ERA.

However, Pivetta also has a strong 81/21 K:BB mark, and has surrendered just 68 hits over 72 innings across 14 starts.

Pivetta cannot be a free agent until after the 2021 season, so the Phillies theoretically have a long time to measure his results and his future role.

At 24 years of age, Eflin is the youngest of this mostly young group. He came to the Phillies as part of the Jimmy Rollins deal a few years back.

This season, Eflin is 3-2 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.185 WHIP, both solid marks. He has a 40/10 K:BB ratio, and has allowed 37 hits over 39.2 innings pitched.

Eflin had a horrendous three-start stretch from mid-late May. Across those starts he was ripped for a dozen earned runs and 19 hits in 13.1 innings, losing two of the three. But aside from that he has performed well.

The only other pitcher to make a start for the 2018 Phillies was Ben Lively. The right-hander is currently battling back from an injury. While Lively is a nice pitcher who competes well many nights, I believe that he is a depth starter best suited to AAA and emergency fill-in status on a contender.

In examining the Phillies youthful rotation, it is clear that they have one answer: Nola. The other three young arms in Velasquez, Pivetta, and Eflin remain question marks.

The Phillies clearly need the veteran presence of Arrieta near the front of their rotation going forward. His contract is guaranteed through next season, after which he can opt out of a $20 million deal for the 2020 season.

However, the Phillies can void that opt-out by exercising $20 million team options for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, when Arrieta would be 35 and 36 years of age.

My thinking, which I expressed recently as part of a piece on what I believe to be the misuse of young reliever Seranthony Dominguez, is that Velasquez should be moved to the bullpen. I feel that he could be a strong setup man, with Dominguez as the Closer.

I also feel that the Phillies need to go out and get another proven, veteran starting pitcher to slot into the #3 role in their rotation behind Nola and Arrieta.

There are a number of starting pitchers who fit the bill, and who could become available over the next month and a half leading up to the MLB non-waiver trade deadline

Frequently mentioned names include Chris Archer of Tampa Bay, Michael Fulmer of Detroit, Patrick Corbin of Arizona, and even our old friend Cole Hamels, still with the Texas Rangers. Even someone like Madison Bumgarner could become available if the San Francisco Giants should fade.

The Phillies are also one of the teams frequently mentioned as being suitors for one or the other (or both) of the biggest upcoming free agent bats. Manny Machado of Baltimore and Bryce Harper of Washington lead what will be robust free agent class in the coming off-season, and the Phillies are flush with cash.

Would the Phils pull the trigger to obtain Machado this summer? If so, what kind of prospect package would it take to land the Orioles shortstop, and how would paying that price affect their ability to go after a starting pitcher?

Signing a proven veteran and shifting Velasquez to the pen would allow Pivetta and Eflin to slide back to the 4-5 slots in the Phillies rotation.

The Phillies do have other pitchers in their system who could still emerge as long term starting pitching options. Jake Thompson is still just 24 years of age. It’s possible that the righty obtained as part of the Hamels deal with Texas could still put it together at some point.

In the minor leagues, the Phillies are flush with pitching talent. Righties Sixto Sanchez (19) and Adonis Medina (21) are their top prospects, but are each likely a couple years away.

22-year old righty Enyel De Los Santos has been lighting it up with the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. If the club isn’t able to make any moves for a veteran, and there are injuries to the big league rotation at some point, he could find himself up with the Phillies this year.

Bringing in another veteran arm strengthens the Phillies rotation, both at the front and all the way though. Moving Velasquez to the pen strengthens the Phillies bullpen. That would be my plan if I were a member of the Phillies management team.

Hoping to remain in contention for now while planning to contend into the future, I expect that management team to be busy in the coming weeks. Their decisions regarding the pitchers mentioned here will have direct impact on the team’s short and long term success.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler is wrong on use of Seranthony Dominguez

Seranthony Dominguez should be the Phillies closer

The Philadelphia Phillies have six relief pitchers who have recorded a Save at this point in the 2018 season.

But right now the Phillies don’t have a closer, and their manager seems to believe that they don’t need one.

None of those six relievers with a Save has more than nine, which is the total achieved by Hector Neris, the man who was once considered the team’s closer.

That ranks Neris at 25th in Major League Baseball. As a team, the relief corps is in a six-way tie for 17th, or 22nd if you want to be a pessimist.

The bullpen as a whole has been, how shall we say, not good. Luis Garcia (24.2), Neris (24.1), Drew Hutchison (21.1), Tommy Hunter (17.2), and Yacksel Rios (17) have all been given significant opportunities. All have largely failed. Each carries an ERA above the 4.00 level of mediocrity, with four of them over or approaching the 5.00 mark.

A little more than a month ago the team promoted a lights-out reliever from the minor leagues to help right the ship. Seranthony Dominguez was dominant in stints at AA and AAA over the first six weeks. He had allowed just eight hits over 16.2 innings with a 21/3 K:BB ratio.

Dominguez quickly proved to be the Phillies best reliever. Opponents were unable to score on the 23-year old right-hander over his first dozen appearances.

To this point over his first 15 appearances, Dominguez has produced a 1.42 ERA and a 0.421 WHIP. He has surrendered just seven hits over 19 innings with a 22/1 K:BB ratio in the big leagues.

Dominguez is clearly the Phillies best option to close. But manager Gabe Kapler, a big “new age” baseball thinker, doesn’t see it that way. Kapler revealed his thought process during an interview on Sportsradio WIP on Wednesday morning.

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The problem with Kapler’s line of thinking is simple when you think about it. Sure, there are going to be times when a critical point is reached in the 6th, 7th, or 8th innings. No arguing there.
However, you can say the exact same thing about the 3rd or 4th inning. The game is a high-scoring 6-6 affair in the 4th and your starter is getting knocked around. The opposition has the bases loaded and one out. Do you bring in your best reliever then to get out of the jam?
The fact is that you need your very best reliever available as the “closer”, that hammer to nail the door shut on a game once the rest of your team has battled through eight tough innings to earn a lead.
Once you burn a Seranthony Dominguez in the earlier innings, now what do you do when the 9th rolls around and you need someone to close it out? Ahh, I know, you trust another one of your “lesser” relief pitchers who you weren’t willing to trust earlier. Brilliant!
Part of the Phillies dilemma, as I see it: they don’t want to trust the kids who are actually getting the job done over veterans who are getting paid more money and have more experience.
Kapler should be using 25-year old Edubray Ramos and 23-year old Victor Arano in the 7th and 8th innings to set up the 23-year old Dominguez for the 9th inning.
Ramos has a ridiculous 0.75 ERA mark and a low 1.167 WHIP. He has allowed just 18 hits over 24 innings with a 27/10 K:BB ratio. Arano has fashioned a 2.11 ERA and 1.031 WHIP mark, allowing just 17 hits over his 21.1 innings. He has a fine 23/5 K:BB ratio thus far.
Let the team battle through the first half-dozen innings as a whole. Use the veteran relievers to get through any tough situations that might pop up when the starters falter or tire. Then turn to the lights-out kids to hold down any leads you take into the late innings.
Despite what some try to say, baseball does not need to be reinvented constantly. What a baseball team that really wants to win needs is for the people running the ship to believe what their eyes are seeing. It request them to understand the formula that has been proven effective over decades of experience.
Seranthony Dominguez should be the Philadelphia Phillies closer right now, and hopefully for years to come. It is then up to the manager and the rest of club management to find the pieces and place them properly to get through tough innings that come up prior to the 9th rolling around.