Tag Archives: Howie Kendrick

Struggling Phillies open mid-June series with resurgent Nationals

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Many fans in both towns now conflicted over Werth and Harper

The struggling Philadelphia Phillies (39-32) continue with their road show, this time opening a four-game series with the rejuvenated Washington Nationals (33-38) on Monday night in our Nation’s Capital.

The Phillies are coming off a humbling Father’s Day experience in which they were dismantled by the division-leading Atlanta Braves in a 15-1 rout. They enter D.C. having now dropped five of their last seven games, and 10 of 16 going back to May 29.
After suffering through a horrendous 19-31 start that buried them in fourth place, 10 games out, the Nationals have begun to right their ship. The club has gone 14-7 since that point. Still in fourth place, but they are just six games behind the Phillies for the final NL Wildcard spot, and would love to cut into that deficit this week.
They enter the series fresh off their own 15-run experience. Only in their case, the Nats were the team scoring all the runs in a 15-5 win at home yesterday over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Nationals offensive attack ranks seventh in the National League in both runs scored and OPS, and they are third in stolen bases. On the mound their pitchers are tied for sixth in batting average against and seventh in OPS against, and the staff ranks first in strikeouts.
A big reason they are at the top of those strikeout rankings can be found in their starting rotation, and the Phillies will see the Nationals best this week. Washington will throw lefty Patrick Corbin in the opener, young Erick Fedde in the second game, and then finish up the series with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg for the final two games.
These two teams have already met three times this season. They split a two-gamer in Washington back in early April. The Nationals then took two of three in Philly a week later, but saw the Phillies take two of three at Citizens Bank Park in early May. They will meet yet again in a four-gamer right after the MLB All-Star break back in Philadelphia, but then do not see one another until the first day of Fall, on September 23.
Of course, there is added intensity when these two clubs meet, at least from the Washington fans perspective, with star right fielder Bryce Harper having left town. In eight games between the two clubs this year, Harper has slashed .321/.472/.643 with two homers, three doubles, eight walks, seven RBIs, and six runs scored.
Harper was the Nationals pick at first overall in the 2010 MLB Draft and played his first seven seasons with them, winning the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Award, and making the NL All-Star squad six times.
A ball club that is much better than their record indicates, the Nats are looking at this as a big opportunity series. For the struggling, injury-depleted Phillies, this will mark another difficult challenge.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Anthony Rendon: The Nationals are in danger of losing their most impactful player for a second straight season. Rendon is a free agent after this year, and the 29-year-old third baseman doesn’t seem close to a deal. He leads the team in virtually every category, slashing .321/.415/.660 with 16 homers, 50 RBIs, 37 extra-base hits, and 52 runs scored. Those numbers are better across the board than anyone in the Phillies lineup.
Trea Turner: 26-year-old dynamic shortstop was hit on the hand while trying to bunt against the Phillies during the first week of play and missed nearly seven weeks. He started slowly after returning, but since May 28 has slashed .333/.392/.639 with three homers, 16 extra-base hits, nine RBIs, 16 runs scored, and five steals over 17 games. It’s no coincidence that the Nats have won 11 of those 17 games.
Juan Soto: The 20-year-old lefty-hitting outfielder was the runner-up for last year’s NL Rookie of the Year honors and much as with Turner, he has been hot over the last few weeks. Since May 24, Soto is slashing .329/.413/.519 with four homers, 11 RBIs, and 20 runs scored.
Adam Eaton: 30-year-old veteran now in his eighth big-league season, Eaton is hitting .280 and is tied for second on the club with 41 runs scored.
Victor Robles: If there is one player who the Nats would really like to see pick it up, Robles would be it. The 22-year-old center fielder is hitting just .234 and has only one home run in the last month after banging eight over the season’s first six weeks.
Matt Adams: The big lefty first baseman has been activated from the IL just in time to face four right-handed starters being thrown by the Phillies. Adams has nine homers and 27 RBIs in just 130 plate appearances, with eight of those longballs as well as five doubles coming off righties.
Kurt Suzuki: The Nationals split their catching duties in a fairly even platoon setup, but Suzuki is the power half. He has seven homers and 30 RBIs in just 137 plate appearances.
Brian Dozier: 32-year-old veteran second baseman was a former AL All-Star with the Minnesota Twins, for whom he played the first seven of his now eight-year career. He has 10 home runs and 10 doubles, remaining a dangerous, albeit streaky, hitter with the Nationals.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Howie Kendrick: Not much was expected of Kendrick this season, who at age 35 (he turns 36 next month) is now in his 14th big-league season. Kendrick spent the first 11 years of his career in Los Angeles, nine with the Angels and then two with the Dodgers.
He was then traded in late July 2017 to the Phillies for a fringe prospect, seeing action in 24 games out in left field and another 10 at second base. Kendrick then became a free agent, signing with Washington.
When numerous injuries opened up some playing time earlier this season, Kendrick received increased opportunities and made the best of them. His 12 homers and 43 RBIs are second on the team, and he is slashing at the .333/.383/.602 mark. He also continues to provide value with his defensive versatility, playing in 19 games at first base and 14 each at second and third bases.
Kendrick, who has made $65 million over the course of his career but is now making “only” $4 million this year, will be a free agent once again after the season ends. This kind of production assures that someone will want him coming off their bench. Maybe even the Phillies.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

MONDAY – Patrick Corbin: 5-5 4.11 ERA, 1.219 WHIP, 75 hits over 85.1 IP across 14 starts with a 94/29 K:BB
TUESDAY – Erick Fedde: 1-1, 3.68 ERA, 1.255 WHIP, 32 hits over 36.2 IP across 10 games (5 starts) with a 21/14 K:BB
WEDNESDAY – Max Scherzer: 5-5, 2.81 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 87 hits over 99.1 IP across 15 starts with a 136/20 K:BB
THURSDAY – Stephen Strasburg: 7-4, 3.75 ERA, 1.063 WHIP, 78 hits over 96 IP across 15 starts with a 115/24 K:BB

THE SKIPPER

A native New Yorker, Dave Martinez is in his second season at the helm in Washington after guiding the club to an 82-80 mark and a second place finish in the NL East Division a year ago.
Martinez played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball after being drafted in the third round back in 1983 by the Chicago Cubs. He played for nine different organizations, with his four years in Chicago and four with the old Montreal Expos, the Nationals predecessors, marking his longest stints.
He was under fire when the club got off to such a miserable start this year, but any talk of firing has been muted with this recent period of improved play and winning by the team.

THE BALLPARK

Nationals Park opened for the 2008 season and is known mostly as a fair ballpark for hitters and pitchers, ranking 11th in the current ESPN 2019 MLB Ballpark Factors list.
Dimensions are 337 and 335 down the left and right field lines respectively. Left-center is 377 feet out, right-center at 370 feet, and it will be 402 feet out to dead-center field.
Located along the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard section of D.C., it has a regular capacity of 41,339 but they have reached as many as 30,000 just nine times since Opening Day. One of those was for Harper’s first return back on April 2 with Scherzer on the mound when just under 36,000 showed up.
Back in 201o they added a ‘Ring of Honor’ to celebrate those from the old Washington Senators franchise, the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues who were based in town, as well as the Expos/Nationals players who have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. A dozen-and-a-half players are currently honored, including Walter JohnsonHarmon KillebrewJosh Gibson, and Andre Dawson. Also honored there is former Phillies 2008 World Series hero Jayson Werth.
Since 2011, a submarine dive horn blares after each Nationals home run and victory in a nod to the park’s location in the Navy Yard neighborhood.
In the middle of the 4th inning at every game, fans are treated to the President’s Race. Runners wearing costumes topped by oversized heads of four U.S. Presidents engage in a foot race, often with comedic elements built into the contest. The four Presidents are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson. Three other Presidents have also spent time as racers, but those original four remain today as the current lineup.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

Game time for all four nights is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT
This will be a very unsettled weather week in Washington. There is a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms on Monday night, then an 80% chance on both Tuesday and Wednesday, dropping to 60% on Thursday. Temperatures will be in the upper-70’s to mid-80’s during games with high humidity and light winds all week. Any fans taking the ride down from Philly should be prepared for delays at the start of, or during, each of the four games, though all four should be played in the end.
Report using data from The Weather Channel

Phillies reach Memorial Day in first place in the National League East standings

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The top spot in the NL East standings remains occupied by the Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies (31-22) have been able to hold on to first place in the National League East Division standings while fighting their way through what is arguably the most challenging portion of their entire 2019 regular season schedule.

As we reach Memorial Day, the only off-day in this stretch of 23 games in 24 days against tough competition outside of the division, that daunting gauntlet has been more than halfway run.
The team has won seven of 10 games since dropping three of the first four during this stretch. The Phillies are now 8-6 over the first two weeks of the nearly month-long test.
The club returns home briefly on Tuesday to begin a three-game series with the Saint Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. Then the Phillies will head back out on the road, flying west for six games against the top two teams in the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
The Phillies offensive attack has been inconsistent to this point, and is ranked mostly in the middle of the pack in the National League. They are currently 6th in the league in runs per game and on-base percentage, 8th in hits and OPS, 12th in home runs and steals.
So maybe it has been the pitching that has kept the Phillies in first place? Not hardly. The staff has been just as inconsistent. Phillies pitchers as a group are ranked 14th of the 15 NL teams in batting average against and OPS. They are 7th in ERA, 11th in strikeouts, 8th in walks.
Defense maybe? Nope. The Phillies rank just 10th in the league in fielding percentage. Their 31 errors are sixth-most in the National League.
Fact of the matter is that the Phillies have outperformed their team statistics to this point. That overall inconsistency is the primary reason that the club has won as many as four straight games just once all season – their first four games of the year. On the flip side, their talent is strong enough that they haven’t lost more than three in a row, which has happened just twice.
There is plenty of room for growth with this 2019 Phillies team. The most obvious is Bryce Harper. Despite ranking 15th in the NL in RBIs, Harper has underperformed his talent and career averages in nearly every other offensive category. Third base, where Maikel Franco has cooled considerably, and center field are other areas where improvement could come.
Barring devastating injuries, it is hard to see this Phillies team doing any worse than they have already performed. And with that said, they remain in first place in the division and are dueling the Chicago Cubs for the league’s second-best record.
As always, my NL East Beat report reveals how each of those Phillies divisional rivals fared over the course of the past week: games scores, pivotal performers, key injuries, and other important updates on each team are included.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

EAST DIVISION

    <th aria-label="Win-Loss %" class=" poptip hide_non_quals center" data-filter="1" data-name="Win-Loss %" data-stat="win_loss_perc" data-tip="Win-Loss Percentage
    W / (W + L)
    For players, leaders need one decision for every ten team games.
    For managers, minimum to qualify for leading is 320 games.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>W-L%

    <th aria-label="Games Back" class=" poptip sort_default_asc center" data-stat="games_back" data-tip="Games Back of Division/League Leader
    Computed as games over .500 of leader (W-L) minus games over .500 of team divided by two.
    Typically computed at the end of play for a particular day.
    Blank for 1st game of DH.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>GB

    East Division
    Team W L
    Philadelphia Phillies 33 22 .600
    Atlanta Braves 30 26 .536 3.5
    New York Mets 27 28 .491 6.0
    Washington Nationals 24 32 .429 9.5
    Miami Marlins 19 34 .358 13.0

    ATLANTA BRAVES (5 – 2)

    Summary: the Braves have won 12 of their last 16 games and have been pressuring the Phillies for weeks now. That continued last week when Atlanta captured three of four in San Francisco and then two of three over the weekend in Saint Louis.
    The Braves scored more than four runs in just three of their games last week, and manager Brian Snitker‘s squad has built their surge largely on consistently excellent starting pitching.
    Young right-hander Mike Soroka and lefty Max Fried have paced the starting rotation, which has also gotten solid work from Julio Teheran and Kevin Gausman. If Mike Foltynewicz, who is still finding himself since returning from the IL, can return to form the defending division champs can be expected to keep that pressure coming.
    Veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman is enjoying an All-Star caliber season. He is slashing .317/.406/.577 and leads the Braves with 13 homers, 38 runs and 27 extra-base hits. Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, Ronald Acuna is having a find sophomore year slashing .277/.368/.480 with 11 homers, 31 RBIs, 35 runs and five steals. Shortstop Dansby Swanson continues to lead the team with 35 RBIs.
    Key injuries: starting center fielder Ender Inciarte has gone on the IL with a lumbar strain and is likely to miss at least a few weeks. Righty reliever Darren O’Day has a right forearm strain and has not even thrown from a mound.
    Upcoming: Following an off-day on Memorial Day the Braves will be home this week at SunTrust Park. They host the division-rival Washington Nationals on Tuesday and Wednesday, enjoy another off-day on Thursday, and then host the Detroit Tigers for an Interleague series over the weekend.

    MIAMI MARLINS (3 – 3)

    Summary: the Marlins began last week with a three-game sweep in Detroit that stretched their season-high winning streak out to six in a row. However, they resumed their previous losing ways by getting swept by the Nationals over the weekend.
    Though they went on that winning streak, not much has really changed for the Fish. Jorge Alfaro continues to lead in homers with seven, Brian Anderson in RBIs with 21, and Neil Walker in the average categories with a .285/.364/.431 slash line.
    38-year-old veteran Curtis Granderson has 14 extra-base hits in just 150 plate appearances. Rookie Harold Ramirez has slashed .395/.439/.553 over his first 11 big-league games following a mid-May promotion and given the club a shot in the arm.
    On the mound, lefty Caleb Smith finally had his first poor outing of the season his last time out, surrendering five earned runs over just three innings against the Nationals. On the season he continues to sport All-Star caliber numbers: 38 hits over 56 innings with a 72/16 K:BB and a 0.964 WHIP.
    Key injuries: Righty reliever Drew Steckenrider was placed on the 60-day IL with a forearm strain and is out until after the MLB All-Star Game break. While the Marlins have five other players on the IL, none can be considered key guys. This has been a largely healthy squad all year – they’re just not very good in this early stage of a rebuild. Think of where the Phillies were about 3-4 years ago.
    Upcoming: Miami is in Washington to finish up a four-game wraparound series with the Nationals on Memorial Day. They return home to host the San Francisco Giants for three games, the only three home tilts in the middle of a 13 road games out of 16 stretch. They’ll be in San Diego over the weekend.

    NEW YORK METS (6 – 1)

    Summary: it has been a mostly miserable season in the Big Apple, but the Mets feel that they may now be righting the ship after they swept the Nationals in four games then won two of three over the Tigers this past week.
    In the first six games, the club scored at least five runs in each. Six of the seven games were decided by two runs or less, as the Mets showed some mental toughness in putting together their big week.
    Getting right fielder Michael Conforto back into the lineup following a stay on the IL could help keep the Mets rolling. Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso continues to lead the club in most major offensive categories, but much of that was built up over a hot first month or so. He has been cold for a few weeks now.
    The Mets top four starting pitchers have fought through bouts of inconsistency, but are pitching well overall. Jake deGrom, Noah SyndergaardZack Wheeler and Steven Matz give the club a chance to be in most games. New closer Edwin Diaz went through a brief rough stretch at the start of the month but has returned to lights-out status of late.
    Key injuries: Veteran bats Robinson CanoYoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie are all on the IL with assorted injuries. Cespedes will miss the rest of the season after ankle surgery last week following an accident on his home ranch. Jeff McNeil, who has been excellent as a super-utility player, is on the IL with a left hamstring strain. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo is also on the IL with whiplash and a bulging cervical disc. Relievers Seth LugoLuis Avilan and Justin Wilson are out with a variety of injuries, none due back soon.
    Upcoming: the Mets begin a week-long western road trip on Memorial Day. They will play four at Dodger Stadium and then three in Phoenix over the weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    WASHINGTON NATIONALS (3 – 4)

    Summary: the week began with the under-achieving Nationals in deep trouble. They were swept in a four-game series at Citi Field vs. a New York Mets squad that had been struggling. But then Washington bounced back, sweeping the last-place Marlins over the weekend at Nationals Park.
    Pending free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon continues to put together an All-Star campaign. The 29-year-old is slashing .329/.423/.678 with team high’s of 10 homers and 29 extra-base hits. He is second on the club with 31 RBIs, behind only the 35 of Juan Soto, who is slashing .288/.388/.513 himself.
    Veteran Howie Kendrick continues to give the club a shot in the arm, slashing .303/.346/.549 with 28 RBIs, third on the club, in just 136 plate appearances. Kendrick has seen action at every infield position other than shortstop.
    On the mound, the starting trio of Max ScherzerStephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin has remained mostly dominating. But nearly every other pitcher, starter or reliever, who manager Dave Martinez has called upon has been a disappointment. It has been that poor pitching depth which has hurt the Nationals more than anything.
    Key injuries: the club’s fourth and fifth starters, Anibal Sanchez and Jeremy Hellickson, are both on the IL. It’s hard to say that is much of a loss, because neither was performing very well. Veteran first baseman Ryan Zimmerman still suffers from plantar fasciitis and hopes to begin baseball activities soon.
    Upcoming: the Nationals host the Marlins on Memorial Day. But after that one game the club will hit the road for 11 of their next 13 contests in a stretch that could either get them back into things, or bury them for good.

    Phillies begin to pull away from their NL East rivals in early May

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    Anthony Rendon and the Nationals have been hurting in 2019

    The Philadelphia Phillies (23-16) offense completely disappeared twice over last week’s action. But the club won their other four games, moving out to a four-game lead in the loss column in the National League East Division standings.

    The Phillies were shutout 6-0 at Saint Louis in their first game of the week but came back to win the final two games to outscore the host Cardinals by 16-1 over the final two games to take that series.
    Moving on to an Interleague match-up at Kansas City, the host Royals shut the Phillies down in a 5-1 win in the opener. But again the Phillies roared back, outscoring the Royals by 13-1 to take the final two games.
    As always, my NL East Beat report reveals how each of those Phillies divisional rivals fared over the course of the past week: games scores, pivotal performers, key injuries, and other important updates on each team are included.

    NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

    EAST DIVISION

      <th aria-label="Win-Loss %" class=" poptip hide_non_quals center" data-filter="1" data-name="Win-Loss %" data-stat="win_loss_perc" data-tip="Win-Loss Percentage
      W / (W + L)
      For players, leaders need one decision for every ten team games.
      For managers, minimum to qualify for leading is 320 games.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>W-L%

      <th aria-label="Games Back" class=" poptip sort_default_asc center" data-stat="games_back" data-tip="Games Back of Division/League Leader
      Computed as games over .500 of leader (W-L) minus games over .500 of team divided by two.
      Typically computed at the end of play for a particular day.
      Blank for 1st game of DH.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>GB

      East Division
      Team W L
      Philadelphia Phillies 23 16 .590
      Atlanta Braves 21 20 .512 3.0
      New York Mets 19 20 .487 4.0
      Washington Nationals 16 24 .400 7.5
      Miami Marlins 10 29 .256 13.0

      ATLANTA BRAVES (3 – 4)

      Summary: Thanks to victories in their final three games of the week, all tight affairs on the road over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Braves are the lone NL East rival of the Phillies who are over the .500 mark at the present time. The Braves dropped four straight to open the week, getting swept at LA against the Dodgers and dropping the opener of their four-game set in Arizona, before recovering.
      The Atlanta offensive attack has the 4th-highest OPS (.773) in the National League, but their 196 runs scored leaves the club as just middle-of-the-road at 8th-ranked in the league. That OPS drops to just .665, next-to-last in the NL ahead of only the lowly Miami offense with runners in scoring position.
      Veterans Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis continue to pace the offense as the most consistent hitters. Freeman has a .308/.403/.526 slash and leads the club with 19 extra-base hits. Markakis is batting .299 with a .388 OBP and is tied with Freeman and Ronald Acuna for second on the club with 23 RBIs.
      Shortstop Dansby Swanson leads the Braves with 25 RBIs. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is second with 17 extra-base hits and has a .376 OBP. Brian McCann as the lefty half of a catching platoon is slashing .311/.389/508 over 72 plate appearances.
      Atlanta’s best starting pitcher has been 21-year-old Mike Soroka. In what is technically his rookie season (he threw 25.2 innings last season) Soroka has a 3-1 record with a 1.21 ERA and 1.045 WHIP since his mid-April promotion. Soroka is currently on a streak of three consecutive Quality Start outings.
      27-year-old right-hander Luke Jackson appears to have seized the closer role. Jackson has allowed 17 hits over 20 innings across 18 games with a 24/7 K:BB and four Saves over his last six outings.
      Key injuries: Freeman missed Sunday’s game with an undisclosed illness that is not expected to keep him out very long. Lefty reliever Jesse Biddle is on the IL battling a groin strain and right thigh bruise. He is on a minor league rehab assignment and could return later this week. Righty relievers Darren O’Day and Arodys Vizcaino are also on the IL, with Vizcaino out for the season following mid-April surgery on his right pitching shoulder. No timetable on O’Day, who is out with a strain in his right pitching forearm.
      Upcoming: Following an off-day on Monday the Braves will be at home to host both the Saint Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers for three games each.

      MIAMI MARLINS (1 – 5)

      Summary: The Fish opened last week with a win over the red-hot Chicago Cubs but then quickly returned to their losing ways. Miami continued to plummet in the standings by dropping their remaining five games to fall 19 games below the .500 mark, 13 games off the NL East pace. Their .256 winning percentage is by far the worst in Major League Baseball.
      Runs scored, OPS, home runs. You name the category and the Marlins are at the bottom of the National League team rankings. Well…they are tied for 10th in stolen bases and have more than twice as many as the non-running Phillies.
      Former Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro leads the club with five home runs. Veteran Curtis Granderson paces the team with 10 extra-base hits. He and Starlin Castro lead the Marlins with 11 RBIs. Neil Walker has enjoyed a solid season as the primary first baseman, batting .287 with a .379 OBP and nine extra-base hits, second on the club.
      Lefty Caleb Smith continues to enjoy an All-Star caliber campaign, and is easily the shining star on this team thus far in 2019. Smith is 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA and 0.891 WHIP, allowing just 26 hits over 42.2 innings across seven starts. He has a 56/12 K:BB ratio. His last six outings have all been of the Quality Start variety.
      Rookie right-hander Nick Anderson has been overpowering at times out of embattled manager Don Mattingly‘s bullpen. Anderson has a 30/5 K:BB over 16.2 innings, allowing 14 hits. His 4.32 ERA is mostly a product of one poor outing against the Braves.
      The Marlins were expected to finish in the division cellar as the team was clearly pushed into rebuilding mode over the last couple of seasons. However, the club has performed so abysmally that it could result in Mattingly being one of the first managers to lose his job this season.
      Key injuries: The Marlins lost talented righty reliever Drew Steckenrider to a flexor strain in his right elbow. He has been placed on the 60-day IL and his season is in jeopardy. Other than that, the Marlins have been healthy all season.
      Upcoming: Following an off-day on Monday, the Marlins will host their fellow Floridians, the Tampa Bay Rays, in an Interleague two-game series. Another off-day on Thursday will be followed by three at home over next weekend against the division-rival New York Mets.

      NEW YORK METS (3 – 2)

      Summary: The Mets were the lone Phillies rival to enjoy a winning week by taking three of their last four games. They dropped two of three in San Diego to start the week, then took advantage of the weak Marlins to win their next two at home. Sunday’s series finale with Miami was rained out and will be replayed as part of a doubleheader on August 5 at Citi Field.
      Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso continues to lead the offensive stats board with 12 homers, 21 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs, and 25 runs scored for the Mets. However, Alonso has cooled considerably with just a .190/.255/.405 slash over his last 11 games. That slugging percentage is propped up by three homers in that span, but he has just five other hits.
      Right fielder Michael Conforto went 5-6 with two home runs over the two Marlins victories, raising his slash line to .274/.412/.519 over a team-high 170 plate appearances. Shortstop Amed Rosario leads the Mets with four stolen bases, and his 24 RBIs are second on the club.
      The Mets are just ninth in the NL in both runs scored and OPS as they offense has mostly struggled. The pitching staff has been even worse, ranking 12th in both ERA and BAA.
      Jacob deGrom has really picked up the pace on the mound following a rough three-start stretch in mid-April. The 2018 Cy Young Award winner has gone seven innings in each of his last three outings, allowing a total of 12 hits over the 21 innings with a 21/4 K:BB ratio. He has a 1.29 ERA and .162 batting average against in that span.
      After being nearly unhittable over the first month, closer Edwin Diaz has struggled some over his last five outings. He has surrendered five hits including a pair of home runs in that stretch.
      Key injuries: Righty reliever Jeurys Familia received a cortisone injection in his right shoulder and could return later this week. Lefty starter Steven Matz was diagnosed with nerve damage in his pitching shoulder. Lefty relievers Luis Avilan and Justin Wilson both have left elbow discomfort. All three are on the IL with no timetable. Infielder Jed Lowrie has been out with a sprained knee and could finally return later this week following a minor league rehab. Yoenis Cespedes remains out, possibly for the season, following off-season surgery on both heels.
      Upcoming: Following an off-day on Monday, the Mets will host division rivals Washington and Miami in three-game series at Citi Field this week.

      WASHINGTON NATIONALS (2 – 5)

      Summary: They’ve suffered some key injuries but there is no question, the Nationals are one of the most disappointing stories in all of baseball this season. They were swept in Milwaukee to open last week and then split a four-gamer over the weekend in LA against the host Dodgers.
      The Nationals vaunted pitching ranks just 13th of the 15 National League ball clubs thus far in both ERA and BAA. The offensive attack is just 10th in runs scored and OPS. It’s no wonder this club has now fallen seven below the .500 mark.
      The two-headed Dominican combination of 20-year-old Juan Soto and 22-year-old Victor Robles was supposed to lead the way into the future and help smooth the loss of Bryce Harper to the Phillies in free agency. They are hitting just .243 and .250 respectively, though with six homers they are tied for the club lead. Soto leads the team with 23 RBIs and Robles sets the pace with eight stolen bases.
      Veteran Howie Kendrick has proven to be a godsend, slashing .306/.364/.553 with nine extra-base hits over just 99 plate appearances. He is tied for the team lead with six home runs and his 21 RBIs are second on the club. Third baseman Anthony Rendon missed time with an injury but is still slashing .305/.391/.621 with a team-high 18 extra-base hits.
      Max ScherzerPatrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg have mostly been strong in the rotation. But the back-end of Anibal Sanchez and Jeremy Hellickson has been poor for the most part, as has the bullpen.
      Closer Sean Doolittle has been one of the few reliable options for manager Dave Martinez out of the pen. He has a 1.00 ERA and 1.111 WHIP with six Saves, allowing just 15 hits over 18 innings with a 20/5 K:BB.
      Key injuries: Kendrick was held out yesterday with neck stiffness and is considered day-to-day. Ryan Zimmerman continues out on the IL with plantar fasciitis. Trea Turner continues out with a fractured finger suffered more than a month ago. He is back doing baseball activities and should be headed to a minor league rehab assignment soon. He could return to the Nationals lineup within two weeks. Matt Adams is on the IL with a left shoulder strain and has no timetable.
      Upcoming: The Nationals are off on Monday and then host both the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs for three-game sets this coming week.
      Originally published at Phillies Nation as Matt Veasey’s NL East Beat: Week of 5/6-5/12/19

      Phillies winning spurts tempered by lessons of history

      The Phillies have won eight of their last 12 games
      The Philadelphia Phillies walked off the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night. The 4-3 victory in eleven innings gave the Fightin’ Phils their eighth win in the last dozen games.
      Despite the hot stretch of winning baseball over these last two weeks, the Phillies remain in last place in the NL East Division standings.
      The Phillies are 24 games behind the first place Washington Nationals. They sit 20.5 games out in the National League Wildcard race. The Phils are even 10.5 games behind the two teams tied for fourth in the division, the Braves and the New York Mets.
      I’ve noticed a pattern with these little winning spurts by the Phillies in recent years. When they start winning, all is right in the world. Not only for the players and manager Pete Mackanin, but also fans and the media who follow the team on a regular basis.
      When the Phillies are winning, social media explodes with platitudes for the current players, extolling their skills and feats. Talk begins of players in their mid-upper 20’s who will be part of the “winning future” core.
      As someone who has always considered themselves a “glass half-full” personality, it pains me to add the “but” to this piece. It’s something that I learned a long time ago, an old saying: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

      MR. KLENTAK, MEET MR. SANTAYANA

      Many have heard the saying, or some variant of it, at some point in their lives. It comes from philosopher and novelist George Santayana (1863-1952) and his 1905-06 “The Life of Reason” project.
      The full quotation leading to that famed finish actually goes as follows: “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
      The Phillies have indeed seen a great deal of change in recent years, all of it necessary. However, GM Matt Klentak and the club’s fan base cannot make the mistake of settling for what they are seeing in short, winning spurts. The change must continue, and it must strike at the heart of this current lineup.
      Over the last three years, the Phillies have gone with a core lineup that features Maikel FrancoOdubel HerreraCameron RuppFreddy Galvis, and Cesar Hernandez.
      None of these players is to blame for all of the losing. Each of these players has redeeming qualities as a ball player. Galvis can be sensational defensively. Franco has legitimate power. Rupp is a typical catching field general. Hernandez has speed and makes good contact. Herrera is the most talented, and perhaps conversely the most maddening.

      LENGTHY LOSING FOLLOWS BRIEF WINNING

      The problem with these players, as I have visited in the past, is that they are wildly inconsistent, both individually and as a unit. What it has led to over these last three years is a dysfunctional mix that cannot win consistently.
      From April 15-27 this year, the Phillies won eight of ten, lifting their overall record to 11-9. They proceeded to lose 26 of their next 32 games. Prior to this recent win stretch, they had dropped seven of eight.
      Last year they played hot for most of the first seven weeks of the season. On May 18, their 24-17 record left them just a half-game off the division lead. The Phils proceeded to drop 26 of their next 32 and never recovered.
      That 2016 team would capture eight of 12 games between August 2-14. They went just 15-28 the rest of the season, losing eight of their final 10 games.
      In 2015, the first season that the current position player core spent together, there was a six-game win streak in mid-May. The team then dropped 24 of their next 30 contests.
      After the 2015 MLB All-Star break, the Phillies came out firing. The club won the first four straight, nine of 10, and 15 of 20 games. It made for a fun stretch of baseball from mid-July through early August.
      By the end of August and into September, however, they found themselves dropped 20 of 26 games en route to a last place finish. That season finally saw the end of the Ruben Amaro era, after manager Ryne Sandberg quit on the club less than halfway through the campaign.

      MORE CHANGE NEEDED TO CHANGE HISTORY

      The point here is to remind fans that this will not last. This current Phillies lineup is simply not constructed to win over months of play. They are simply not that good, at least not consistently. The likelihood is that a fairly long stretch of losing is coming, and probably beginning soon.
      I want the Phillies to win. I root for them now, as I have since discovering the existence of the team and the game all the way back in 1971 at age nine. But these 46 years of watching Phillies baseball, and especially these last three years, have taught me valuable lessons.
      There has been some recent change. Over the last few days, Klentak has done what was expected as the MLB trade deadline approaches. He dealt away veterans Jeremy Hellickson, Pat Neshek, and Howie Kendrick. That will hopefully open some playing time opportunities for youngsters who might truly become pieces of the club’s long term future.
      But those recent deals are not enough. The Phillies will not win again on a consistent, season-long basis until they turn the page from this current position player core group. Until those wholesale changes happen, enjoy the wins when they come, but realize the good times are sure to end soon. That is the lesson of recent Phillies history.

      Phillies need to be bold at the trade deadline

      NL All-Star reliever Neshek will be dealt by end of July
      The Philadelphia Phillies are barreling down streak towards the July 31 MLB trade deadline with numerous rumors beginning to swirl around the team.
      Most of the speculation revolves around the obvious players. Anyone 30+ years of age who is a pending free agent is likely to move.
      The list includes starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, relievers Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit, and outfielders Howie Kendrick and Daniel Nava.
      Another possibility to move is catcher Cameron Rupp,  already losing playing time to Andrew Knapp behind the dish. If Rupp is dealt, the Phils could call up Logan Moorefrom AAA Lehigh Valley to serve as the backup while Jorge Alfaro continues to start with the IronPigs.
      Can Phillies fans expect their team to receive anything of any substance in exchange for any of these players in any trade? The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding “no” to that question.

      POSSIBLE RETURNS IN VETERAN DEALS

      It was pointed out to me today that in August of 2014 the Phillies were able to unload then 33-year old reliever Roberto Hernandez on the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that deal, the club received the old “players to be named later” as a return.
      When those PTBNL were actually named, they turned out to be infielder Jesmuel Valentin and pitcher Victor Arano. Nearly three years later, neither player has appeared in the big leagues. And neither looks as if they will any time soon, if ever.
      Valentin is currently on the DL at AAA Lehigh Valley following May surgery to repair a separated shoulder. The 23-year old is a career .261 hitter with 24 home runs and 49 stolen bases over 1,856 minor league plate appearances.
      Arano is a 22-year old currently pitching out of the AA Reading bullpen. The right-hander is having a good season. But he also currently ranks just 21st on the MLB Phillies top prospects list.
      That kind of return for Rupp, Kendrick, Nava, or Benoit would have to be considered a jackpot. Hellickson or Neshek could bring back perhaps a decent prospect, but is unlikely to yield anyone who will truly impact the future.
      Is there any deal that GM Matt Klentak and the rest of the Phillies brain trust put together that could potentially impact that future? Perhaps.
      Would the Phillies move two young, affordable players previously considered part of the future? Could either Maikel Franco or Odubel Herrera be traded away at this point in their careers?

      PHILLIES GM NEEDS TO BE BOLD

      Frankly, Klentak should be open to anything. I think back to the mid-70’s and the Phillies of my youth, remembering a particular key deal involving a core player in the prime of his career.
      On May 4, 1975 the Phillies GM Paul Owens shipped away 27-year old first baseman Willie Montanez to the San Francisco Giants. In exchange, San Francisco sent a 25-year old center fielder to Philly by the name of Garry Maddox.
      Maddox would play more than a decade for the Phillies. He would win the first of eight career Gold Glove awards that first year. He was a key player on five NL East champs and the 1980 World Series champions. In 2001, Maddox was honored with a place on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
      Those are the types of deals that the best general managers are able to pull off at some point. Klentak should be completely open to dealing Franco or Herrera. Same goes for either Cesar Hernandez, or Freddy Galvis if it brings back real talent.
      The Phillies do have pieces to deal as the 2017 MLB trade deadline approaches. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on getting anything of long term value in return. There will be nothing to excite Phillies fans later this month – unless Klentak gets truly bold.