Tag Archives: Jason Vargas

Phillies pitching X factors or non-factors?

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the 2020 Philadelphia Phillies will be able to count on the top two pitchers in their starting rotation to produce results at levels competitive with any in the game.

As the month of May draws to a close and June begins in the coming season, Aaron Nola will turn 27 and Zack Wheeler will turn 30 years of age within a week of one another. The two right-handers are legitimate All-Star caliber talents. So we’ll call them givens in the rotation.

Now, let’s also assume that veteran Jake Arrieta, who turns 34 early in spring training and will be looking to establish his continuing value in what will be the final guaranteed season on his contract produces at a legitimate mid-rotation level. If Arrieta can stay healthy that should be considered a reasonable outcome.

And let’s finally assume that Zach Eflin, who will turn 26 as the regular season gets underway in early April, is ready to emerge as another legitimate mid-rotation option. Four of his final seven starts in 2019 were Quality Start outings, and Eflin went five innings in two of the other three. In those seven starts he registered a 2.83 ERA and .239 Batting Average Against, allowing 37 hits over 41.1 innings. So again, it is a reasonable outcome to expect.

All of that falling perfectly into place would give the Phillies four starting pitchers who would keep them competitive in the majority of their games. Given an average of roughly 33 starts for each of those pitchers over a full, healthy, effective season, that would leave at least another 30 games to be started by other pitchers.

In 2019, not counting ‘bullpen games’, the Phillies gave 36 starts to a group of pitchers who were not members of their rotation when the season began: Drew Smyly (12), Jason Vargas (11), Jerad Eickhoff (10), Cole Irvin (3).

As we approach the start of spring training, general manager Matt Klentak and the Phillies brain trust appear ready to pass on the remaining arms available in free agency and go with what the team has right now at the back of the rotation.

So, what are the possibilities, and what are the probabilities? What can the Phillies reasonably expect to get from any of the current fifth-starter pitching options? I rank them here in order of most likely to produce real value to least likely.

    • Spencer Howard: I released my most recent Phillies top 20 prospects just prior to Christmas, and Howard ranked at #2 on the list. The 23-year-old has just a half-dozen starts at Double-A and is most likely to begin the season back at Reading or with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. I wouldn’t expect him to be ready, or at least for the Phillies to feel he is ready, until at least mid-late May, more likely in June or even in the season’s second half. But he is the most talented arm here, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Howard give the Phillies a dozen or so starts this coming season.
    • Vince Velasquez: Vinnie made 23 starts in 2019 and has made 92 over his four seasons with the Phillies. That experience and his natural talent make him the odds-on favorite to land a rotation spot out of spring training. Now, can he keep it? Over the last three seasons he has cumulative 4.93 ERA, 4.64 FIP, and 1.393 WHIP marks over 336 innings pitched. If those numbers don’t improve early on, the club can no longer wait to move on from Velasquez, who turns 28 in early June, as a starting pitcher.
    • Nick Pivetta: The righty will turn 27 on Valentine’s Day and opened last season filling the fifth starter role. After 13 disastrous starts in which he allowed 78 hits including 16 home runs over 69 innings with a 5.74 ERA and .307 BAbip mark, Pivetta was relegated to the bullpen, never to return to the rotation. His results were no better in relief, as he allowed 25 hits over 24.2 IP across 17 games with a 4.38 ERA and .333 BAbip. There is perhaps no pitcher with more to prove entering the spring, and no pitcher with as wide-ranging a possible outcome. Rotation? Bullpen? Riding buses back in the minor leagues?
    • Cole Irvin: The southpaw turns 26 at the end of January and will still technically be a rookie in 2020 since he pitched in just 41.2 innings with the Phillies last year. In those innings he failed to impress, allowing 45 hits across 16 appearances. He was given three starts in May. The first two were promising. But after he was blown up at Wrigley Field in late May, Irvin was relegated to the bullpen and never given another opportunity in the rotation. In the minors he was used almost exclusively as a starter, going 34-15 with a 3.07 ERA over four seasons. The Phillies infamously have been unable to develop a left-handed starter. It would not be a major upset to see Irvin beat out Velasquez and Pivetta in spring training and earn a role in the rotation to begin the season.
    • Enyel De Los Santos: Despite the fact that he has made appearances with the Phillies in each of the past two seasons, De Los Santos also maintains his official MLB rookie eligibility into 2020 and ranked #8 on my Phillies top 20 prospects list in December. The Phillies have used him in a dozen scattered games including giving him three starting opportunities. The righty turned 25 on Christmas Day and has produced solid results over five minor league seasons. He could become an effective reliever, but also could end up trade bait and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him have a few solid seasons at the back of the rotation for some team in the future.
    • Adonis Medina: Considered for a few years as one of the Phillies’ top pitching prospects, Medina’s star has faded considerably over the last year or so. He still ranked #5 on my list of the club’s top prospects in December, but if I used such symbols it would have been with a downward arrow next to his name. Medina’s ERA has risen in each of the last three years, last season reaching an unacceptable 4.94 mark over 22 games (21 starts.) Also, his strikeouts have plummeted each of the last two seasons while his walk rate is rising. All of the trends are negative at this point. He turned just 24-years-old a month ago, so has time to turn it around. He and Howard will likely be the 1-2 combo at Lehigh Valley at some point in 2020, racing to see who gets the call to Philly first. Right now, odds are that won’t be Medina.
    • Ranger Suarez: A real darkhorse in this race. But as a left-hander with starting experience, Suarez has to be mentioned. Like De Los Santos, he also has made appearances with the Phillies in each of the last two seasons. Unlike De Los Santos, he no longer has rookie eligibility. Suarez pitched in 37 games with the big club in 2019, all out of the bullpen. That was after three of his four appearances in 2018 had been starts. All seven of his Triple-A appearances last year were as a starter, however. Suarez is just 24 years of age. He won’t turn 25 until late August. While he could make the big club out of spring training, the most likely scenario is that he opens the 2020 season back with Lehigh Valley as a starter. But at some point during the season, expect to see him back up to bolster the Phillies bullpen. Any opportunity in the big-league rotation is likely to be short-lived and on an emergency basis, based strictly on the timing of such a Phillies start coinciding with his turn in the Triple-A rotation.

Of course, there is always the wildcard possibility. No, I’m not talking about the playoff berth. I mean the wildcard that another pitcher could be added. Smyly remains available, and at the right price it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Phillies try to bring him back on a one-year deal.

Also, if the Phillies stand pat with what they have and still manage to contend, the month of July will almost certainly be filled with rumors of trades for some veteran pitchers who are available at that point.

Can any of these organizational pitchers emerge to become a true X factor in the Philadelphia Phillies starting pitching rotation this year? Or will they instead either flip to the bullpen, or in a worse-case scenario for some, become complete non-factors in the 2020 season?

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

Phillies beaten by lowly White Sox in 15 inning series opener

Embed from Getty Images

 

The Philadelphia Phillies (57-52) got a strong first start from newcomer Jason Vargas, but blew a two-out, two-strike lead, ultimately losing a 4-3 game to the Chicago White Sox (47-60) in 15 innings at Citizens Bank Park.

With the loss, the Phillies will drop one game back of the Cubs and Nationals, who each won, in the National League Wildcard race heading into Saturday action.

 

The visitors jumped on top first when Cuban-born first baseman Jose Abreu blasted his team-leading 23rd home run of the season deep into the seats in center field. The two-run shot off Vargas in the top of the 3rd inning put Chicago up by 2-0 early on.
The Phillies got one of those right back in the bottom of the frame when Roman Quinn rocketed his third home run of the year, his second in as many days, deep into the right field seats.
Roman Quinn’s solo shot got the Phillies on the board.

 

 

Embedded video

 

 

See Phillies Nation’s other Tweets

 

The Phillies finally got the score knotted up with a 6th inning mini-rally. Jean Segura led off with a single to left and Rhys Hoskins drew a walk. That was the end of the night for Chisox starter Ivan Nova, and manager Rick Renteria called on Jace Fry out of his bullpen.

Bryce Harper then grounded what appeared to be a double play ball. The White Sox got Hoskins for the first out, but Harper was hustling all the way, forcing a bad throw from shortstop Tim Anderson. Harper was safe, Segura raced home, and the game was tied at 2-2.
In the bottom of the 7th, another mini-rally produced the go-ahead run for the home side. Quinn beat out a bunt back to new Chicago reliever Aaron Bummer for an infield single. Quinn then promptly stole second base. Cesar Hernandez then chopped one past Bummer for his own infield hit, with Quinn moving over the third base. Segura followed with a base hit to right, and Quinn raced to put the Phillies on top for the first time all night.
Vargas lasted 6.1 solid innings in his debut with the Phillies, who acquired him at the trade deadline from the division-rival New York Mets. The bullpen then did the job at first, with Mike Morin and Nick Pivetta getting them to the top of the 9th with the lead.
Juan Nicasio retired the lead batter in the 9th, but then yielded a double to Eloy Jimenez. He then struck out James McCann, and Kapler decided to go to Jose Alvarez. The lefty gave up a single to Ryan Goins that moved Jimenez to third. Then Alvarez got to two strikes on pinch-hitter Matt Skole. But Skole came through, lining a single to right with Jimenez scoring the tying run.
New bullpen addition Blake Parker shut down Chicago 1-2-3 in the 10th and 11th, striking out four batters. Zach Eflin then shut them down with 1-2-3 frames in the 12th and 13th, striking out two of his own. Meanwhile, Jose Ruiz kept pace by shutting the Phillies offense down in the 10th and 11th innings, striking out three of his own. Carson Fulmer then shut them down in the home 12th and 13th innings.
In the bottom of the 13th, Quinn singled with one out. He was erased when Eflin hit into a force out. Then with two outs, Segura drew a walk, moving the potential winning run to second base. Kapler opted to put the speedier Vince Velasquez in as a pinch-runner for Eflin, but that ended up a wasted move when Hoskins popped out to end the threat.
With all the juggling, it meant that Quinn was forced by Kapler to take the mound as a pitcher. The Phillies got away with it in the top of the 14th thanks to a tremendous throw from Velasquez (?) in left field, who nailed Abreu at the plate.
In the 15th, Quinn retired the first two batters, and then perhaps the inevitable. A base hit, walk, and RBI single from Abreu to score Leury Garcia gave Chicago a 4-3 lead. Josh Osich set the Phillies down in order in the bottom of the 15th, and this long, ugly ball game for the home team was brought to an unmerciful end.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

Phillies – Jason Vargas: 6.1 IP, 5 hits (1 HR), 2 earned, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts. 90 pitches, 56 for strikes.
White Sox – Ivan Nova: 5 IP, 5 hits (1 H), 1 earned, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. 78 pitches, 48 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: ROMAN QUINN

The White Sox won, and got a home run and the game-winning RBI from Abreu. But Quinn, hitting out of the #9 spot in manager Gabe Kapler‘s order, was in the middle of the Phillies limited offense all night long. He delivered three hits including a home run that put the Phillies on the board, stole a base and scored what looked to be their winning run for awhile, and then pitched two innings, nearly getting away with the mound appearance before finally cracking with two outs in the 15th.

TICKET IQ NEXT GAME

 

 

How Phillies GM Matt Klentak channeled "Hoosiers" at the trade deadline

Embed from Getty Images

 

In the classic 1986 film “Hoosiers”, Gene Hackman stars as basketball coach Norman Dale, who takes the reigns of a rural Indiana high school team in the early-1950’s.

Hackman/Dale is an old-school coach, even for those long-ago days. He uses a number of tough-love methods, trying to mold his team into a winner despite a highly skeptical and passionate fan base in the local community.
In one such incident, Dale’s Hickory High School team begins a game with just six players. He benches one for disobeying his rules, and when another player fouls out, Dale refuses to allow the benched player to take the floor.
The referee approaches and says “Coach, ya need one more,‘ to which Dale replies “My team’s on the floor.
In this analogy, Phillies fans are the referee. Matt Klentak is Norman Dale.
Sure, leading up to Wednesday’s MLB trade deadline, Klentak had added lefties Drew Smyly and Jason Vargas, bumping both Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin to the bullpen.
But Phillies fans wanted more. They wanted a co-ace to pair with Aaron Nola at the top of the rotation. Or at the very least, someone who would slot in as a legitimately talented, proven #2-type starting pitcher behind the right-hander.
Those Phillies fans wanted someone such as Zack GreinkeMadison BumgarnerRobbie Ray or Alex Wood.
And so, on trade deadline day, the fan base sat staring at their laptops, pads and phone screens thinking “Ya need one more.
But there would be no new ace added to the Phillies starting rotation on this day. And since are no longer waiver trades allowed during the month of August, there will be no new aces at all during the 2019 season.
Matt Gelb of The Athletic tweeted out that, in summary, Klentak’s position was that “We can’t trade our best prospects all the time. We weren’t willing to meet prices on better players.

 

 

Matt Klentak, summarized: We’ve been adding for the last two months. We can’t trade our best prospects all the time. We weren’t willing to meet prices on better players. Dickerson has a groin injury and will be “eased” into action.

 

 

55 people are talking about this

 

In other words, Klentak answered those Phillies fans as Dale answered the referee: “My team’s on the floor.
It remains to be seen what will happen over the final 8 1/2 week of the regular season. The Phillies rotation is certainly deeper, has more experienced arms in it, and now has a pair of southpaws. But will that be enough to help push the club to the postseason for the first time in eight years?
Dale’s methods worked. His team won the Indiana state high school basketball championship in the film, which was inspired by the real-life Milan High School team which had won the 1954 Indiana state basketball championship.
But Dale won thanks not only to his methods, but also to the return and excellence of a genuine great player to the team. Will any such player step up, stand out, and lead these Phillies to the promised land? Or at least into October baseball?

As 2019 MLB trade deadline arrives the Phillies remain linked to arms

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’AsqSukATQ5dqia9yGalukg’,sig:’lxvyWs087D4huj8-TkoWgrBKfl4LyhnBKE6IJujcptU=’,w:’594px’,h:’395px’,items:’90885645′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});//embed-cdn.gettyimages.com/widgets.js

Folks at the MLB Network will be busy on trade deadline day

The 2019 trade deadline has finally arrived in Major League Baseball, and the Philadelphia Phillies continue to be linked to a number of players.

Two pitchers with the same first name are among the more frequently mentioned when it comes to deadline deals for the Phillies: Alex Wood and Alex Colome.
Wood is a 28-year-old left-hander currently with the Cincinnati Reds. The North Carolina native was a second round choice of the Atlanta Braves in the 2012 MLB Draft out of the University of Georgia. He can become a free agent after this season, so would be a pure rental unless he can be signed to an extension.
Wood was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a huge 12-player, three-team deal between the Braves, Dodgers and Miami Marlins at the 2015 trade deadline. He was then sent to the Reds along with Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig back in December.
The southpaw has a 52-40 career record over 173 games (130 starts) across parts of seven big-league seasons. Due to back issues, Wood did not make his 2019 season debut with Cincinnati until this past weekend. On Sunday, Wood allowed two earned runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings against the Colorado Rockies.
The Phillies have taken a very close look at Alex Wood and have discussed Tanner Roark, too. With Cincinnati’s acquisition of Trevor Bauer, figure one of those SP is on the move.

70 people are talking about this

Wood also would bring 16 games of postseason experience, including a pair of starts with the Dodgers, one each in the NLCS and World Series while with the Dodgers in 2017.
Wood is scheduled to make his next start on Friday. The Phillies have already announced that Jason Vargas will make his debut with the team that night, and Saturday is Aaron Nola‘s regular turn. Should Wood be acquired, he would most likely make his Phillies debut on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park against the Chicago White Sox.
Colome is a 30-year-old reliever out of the Dominican Republic. He is under club control via arbitration for one more season, and can become a free agent following the 2020 campaign.
Currently the closer with the Chicago White Sox, who will be visiting Citizens Bank Park for a series beginning on Friday, Colome could theoretically pitch against the Chisox rather than for them this weekend.
There are plenty of teams who are pursuing closer Alex Colomé, who has 21 saves and is yielding an .079 batting average, but the Sox are currently planning to keep him in hopes of contending in 2020.

85 people are talking about this

Colome has a 3-1 record with 21 saves. He has a 2.21 ERA, 3.82 FIP and 0.762 WHIP, allowing just 19 hits over 40.2 innings with a 32/12 K:BB. Over the course of his career, Colome has done a good job keeping the ball in the park with just a 0.8 HR/9 ratio over 381.1 innings. He would likely become a co-closer in Philly with Hector Neris.
General manager Matt Klentak has already made a number of modest moves in an attempt to incrementally improve his ball club while not sacrificing top prospects. Here is a quick look back at the new players added to the mix in recent weeks:
July 13 – Logan Morrison: 9-year big-leaguer signed as a free agent. He is a lefty bat with 137 career home runs. Hit 38 homers as recently as two years ago with the Tampa Bay Rays. Has played mostly at first base and left field, but has no significant LF time since 2012. Currently with Triple-A Lehigh Valley but could be called to Philly at any time now.
July 19 – Mike Morin: 6-year veteran right-hander was purchased from the Minnesota Twins. Over parts of six big-league seasons has appeared in 211 games with five clubs, including now with the Phillies. Tossed two perfect shutout frames with two strikeouts in his last appearance vs Braves on July 26.
July 21 – Drew Smyly: 6-year big-league lefty has started and won his first two outings with the Phillies after signing as a free agent. Over 171 career appearances (96 starts) he has allowed 595 hits over 634.2 innings with a 617/198 K:BB.
July 27 – Jose Pirela: 6-year big-league veteran was purchased from the San Diego Padres and sent to Triple-A Lehigh Valley as infield depth insurance. had 10 homers and 40 RBIs with Padres in 2017 when he was given 344 plate appearances. Has appeared in 290 games in MLB, with 127 at second base and 110 in the outfield.
July 29 – Jason Vargas: 36-year old, 14-year big-league veteran left-hander was obtained in a trade from the New York Mets in exchange for minor league catcher Austin Bossart. Vargas has made 287 appearances in MLB (266 starts) and has a 98-95 record with a career 4.26 ERA, 4.42 FIP and 1.315 WHIP. He has allowed 1,604 hits over 1,587.2 IP with a 1,104/484 K:BB ratio. Won a career-high 18 games with the Kansas City Royals just two years ago.
July 30 – Blake Parker: 34-year-old, seven-year big-league veteran right-handed reliever began the season as the Minnesota Twins closer after spending the 2017-18 seasons as a key member of the Los Angeles Angels bullpen. Parker signed as a free agent with the Phillies. This season he had 10 saves and a 4.21 ERA, allowing 34 hits over 36.1 IP with a 34/16 K:BB and had pitched very well over more than a month before imploding in his final Twins appearance vs the New York Yankees.

Jay Bruce comes through again, Phillies walkoff Mets in 10 innings

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’cvh2TbUxTG5XQKs63F5GOw’,sig:’2zn2nH11Z8KYvC9XfDx3HysKWxtmUmGG0CO0ZmCxG8E=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’1152244359′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});//embed-cdn.gettyimages.com/widgets.js

Jay Bruce about to get doused after his Wednesday walkoff

The Philadelphia Phillies (42-38) completed their first walkoff victory of the season, downing the New York Mets (37-44) by a 5-4 final score on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia. With the win, the Phillies remain tied for an NL Wildcard playoff spot.

For a third consecutive night the Phillies fell behind early. And for a third straight game the offense rallied to bring home a victory. For a club that had languished in a disheartening three-week slump, you can almost feel the energy turning around them, building with each bamboo-inspired victory.

After Phillies starter Nick Pivetta and Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas battled through the first three innings scoreless, the visitors jumped on the board first courtesy of the longball. Dominic Smith drove his 7th homer of the season out on a line to left to put New York on top 1-0 with one out in the top of the 4th inning.
In the top of the 5th it was new Phillies-killer Jeff McNeil blasting his 6th home run of the year over the center field wall to make it 2-0.
The Mets scored twice more in the very next inning to double their lead. Smith led off by drawing a walk. He then stole second base, and when J.T. Realmuto threw the ball away, Smith went to third. Amed Rosario then walked, and then Tomas Nido singled to bring Smith home, making it 3-0. With two outs, McNeil did it again, ripping a double to right field that scored Rosario to make it 4-0 for the visitors.
In the bottom of the 6th inning, Jean Segura finally got the Phillies on the board with his 9th homer to left-center field. Then the Phillies got even by putting up a crooked number, scoring three times in the home 7th to tie it up.
Realmuto started it off with a double. One out later, J.T. sprinted home on a ground-rule double to right off the bat of Cesar Hernandez. With two outs, Brad Miller drew a walk as a pinch-hitter to put the tying run on base. The Phillies then got a huge break when Scott Kingery struck out, but reached base anyway when the ball got past Nido on a wild pitch by Lugo.
Thanks to that break, the Phillies had the bases loaded, with the tying run in scoring position. It was up to them to take advantage, and Segura did just that. His base hit to center scored both Hernandez and Miller to tie the ball game.
That would be all the scoring in regulation, and the two teams moved to the bottom of the 10th still knotted at four apiece. Rhys Hoskins led off the frame by drawing a walk. Realmuto then worked the count to 2-2 before drilling a base hit to center field. Hoskins had to freeze to ensure that the ball went through cleanly, and so the Phillies had runners at first and second with nobody out.
With the potential winning run in scoring position, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler took a calculated gamble. He brought in one of the fastest men in the game, Roman Quinn, to pinch-run for his cleanup hitter Hoskins at second base.
The next batter was Jay Bruce, who has come through for the Phillies so many times already since being acquired in a June 2 trade with Seattle. He would come through once again here.
After taking a first-pitch ball, Bruce crushed the second pitch he saw  from Mets reliever Stephen Nogosek over the head of center fielder Juan Lagares. Quinn rushed around to score easily, and the Phillies enjoyed celebrating their first walkoff victory of the 2019 season.
Before the game today, I had a conversation with Jimmy Rollins in the kitchen, and he mentioned how impressed he was with the fight of our club the last couple days,” said Kapler in his postgame presser. “He mentioned that he saw guys playing hard and really getting after it, and never feeling like they were out of any inning or any game…I think tonight was an indication of how resilient we are. How we never feel like we’re out of a game, particularly when we’re swinging the bats like we’re capable. Always feels like we can take a late lead, and really proud of the guys tonight. They worked hard.
Appearing on their death beds coming into this series with the Mets, the three straight come from behind victories were just what the doctor ordered for the suddenly Fightin’ Phils. Tomorrow afternoon they will try for a four-game sweep of the reeling boys from the Big Apple.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

PHILLIES – Nick Pivetta: 5.2 IP, 9 hits (2 HR), 4 earned, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts. Threw 93 pitches, 60 for strikes.
METS – Jason Vargas: 6.1 IP, 3 hits (1 HR), 2 earned, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts. Threw 77 pitches, 53 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: JAY BRUCE

The Phillies left fielder went 2-5, and provided the margin of victory with his 10th inning double. However, we have to give a nod to the Phillies bullpen. Relievers Jose AlvarezJ.D. HammerAdam MorganHector Neris, and Edgar Garcia combined to shut the Mets out over the final 4.1 innings, allowing just two base runners. Garcia was credited with the ‘W’ in the end.

TICKET IQ NEXT GAME

  • Thursday June 26 at 1:05 pm EDT vs. the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. This will be a “Nemours kids run the bases game”, with children 14 and under invited to go onto the field and run the bases immediately after the game.
  • TV: NBC Sports PhiladelphiaMLB Network (out-of-market only)
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP; WTTM 1680 (Spanish)