Tag Archives: Justin Bour

2018 was a year of ups and downs for the Philadelphia Phillies

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Aaron Nola broke out to become the Phillies 2018 top story

It’s New Year’s Eve, and as the sand runs out in the hourglass of the year 2018, this would be a good time to take a look back on the year as it played out for the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies entered the calendar year of 2018 with the echoes of their successes in the previous decade, successes which had spilled over to the first years of the present decade, growing fainter and fainter.
After finishing in last place in the National League East Division standings in three of the previous four seasons, the Phillies began putting a roster together they hoped would begin reversing that trend early in January.
On January 3, the Phillies invited 10 non-roster players and newly signed free agents to spring training. Among those players were Pedro Florimon, who would appear in 50 games during the regular season, and Mitch Walding, who would appear in the first 13 games of his big-league career.
Before the month of January was out, eight more non-roster players or new free agent additions would also receive invitations to join the Phillies in Clearwater. Among those were Scott Kingery, who would end up as the Phillies starting shortstop for much of the coming season.
Once spring training got underway, changes to the roster continued to shed the players who had contributed as regulars during the recent losing history when Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp were each designated for assignment during March.
The Phillies made a big, late free agent addition on March 12 when the club came to agreement on three-year contract with Jake Arrieta. The 32-year-old right-hander had won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and would bring a much-needed veteran presence to the team’s rotation.

2018 SEASON OPENS WITH HOPE

As the season opened, the club had little hope. Most fans would have considered a .500 finish during a season in which young players made strides towards the future as a positive step forward. But the club played well early, bolting out to a 14-7 mark over the first three weeks.
A hot stretch in early May pushed the Phillies record up to 29-20 and into first place in the division on May 26. However, the club began to slump at that point, losing seven of eight games to open the month of June. They continued to fight, and at the MLB All-Star Game break the Phillies were 53-42 and back in first place by a half-game.
That All-Star break was a fun one for Phillies fans, with starting pitcher Aaron Nola rewarded for a phenomenal first half by being named to the National League squad for the first time.
Nola would prove the best individual story of the season, going 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.975 WHIP. He allowed just 149 hits over 212.1 innings with 224 strikeouts. For that performance, Nola would finish third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.
Outfielder Rhys Hoskins was named as one of the sluggers to perform in the annual Home Run Derby. Hoskins was an underdog and matched up against Milwaukee Brewers powerful first baseman Jesus Aguilar in the opening round. The Phillies young star found his groove and upset Aguilar by 17-12.
Hoskins turned it up a notch in a second-round matchup with Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers, blasting 20 homers. But Muncy powered up himself, rallying for a 21-20 victory.
The Phillies came out of the break playing uneven baseball, going 6-6 over the last two weeks of July. However, a five-game winning streak as the calendar turned to August left them a season-best 15 games over the .500 mark. Their 63-48 record had the Phillies 1.5 games up in the standings and had fans talking about a possible unexpected return to the postseason.
There were warning signs, if you were willing to look beyond the wins and focus on overall performance. Poor team defense. Players being used out of position. A lineup that was failing to produce on a consistent basis. Somehow the Phillies were winning despite poor statistics.
Many felt that the winning couldn’t possibly be sustained without an infusion of impact talent at the trade deadline. The Phillies were linked to a number of big names, the biggest being Baltimore Orioles superstar Manny Machado. It was rumored that Machado wanted to play shortstop, a position of need for the Phillies.
Such talent would not arrive, as Phillies management seemed to continually settle for second-tier additions such as shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, first baseman Justin Bour, reliever Aaron Loup, and catcher Wilson Ramos. The latter was actually injured at the time of his acquisition. None of the additions would help.
The pitching that had kept the club on top began to fray at the edges. The Phillies began to slump as those poor statistics began to show up in the results.
From August 8 through the end of the regular season the Phillies would collapse to the tune of a 16-32 record. They made one more attempt to bring in an aging difference maker, but Jose Bautista became just one more poor addition to the mix. They would tumble down the standings to a third-place finish and a sixth consecutive losing season.

STUPID OFF-SEASON

The off-season began with hope. The Phillies had as much money to spend as any team, more than most. Their owner, John Middleton, even said that he was willing to be “a little bit stupid” in spending that money on free agents.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak pulled off a trade with the Seattle Mariners in early December, ridding the club of the contract and lineup albatross of Carlos Santana and bringing back a legitimate big-league shortstop in Jean Segura. Longtime top prospect J.P. Crawford was also sent to Seattle in that deal.
On December 12, the first of that “stupid money” began to be spent in free agency when former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen was signed to a three-year, $50 million contract.
However, the big targets that Phillies fans had been looking forward to for months, Machado and outfielder Bryce Harper, have not yet been lured to Philadelphia as the calendar prepares to turn to 2019. Of course, they haven’t signed elsewhere yet either, so hope remains that one or the other could choose to play their future home games at Citizens Bank Park.
That’s basically where we stand at present. It was a year of ups and downs for the Philadelphia Phillies. It was also a year in which the Philadelphia Eagles won the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history, and in which the Philadelphia 76ers emerged as one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA.
Competing for the disposable dollars of Philadelphia sports fans is getting harder. The Phillies have not yet done much to excite that fan base into believing they can become a legitimate contender in the near future, let alone for the 2019 season. There is still time for the team. What there is not is much time left in the year 2018.
As this piece publishes my clock is reading almost 9:00pm EST here in the City of Brotherly Love. Parties are underway. Thousands of Mummers are preparing to march in a huge parade tomorrow. None of us knows what the 2019 season will hold for the Phillies, but whatever that may be, I am sure that I speak for everyone here at Phillies Nation in wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

Phillies have 10 remaining arbitration-eligible players

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Franco is one arbitration-eligible who should return in 2019

With the announcement this weekend that Pedro Florimon was outrighted from the 40-man roster, cleared waivers, and opted to become a free agent the Philadelphia Phillies have 10 arbitration-eligible players remaining.

Five of the seven are pitchers: right-handers Aaron NolaVince VelasquezJerad Eickhoff, and Hector Neris and lefty Adam Morgan. The two position players who I believe should return are third baseman Maikel Franco and outfielder Aaron Altherr.
Seven of those 10 players should be back with the team next season, especially considering the value they are likely to return on the contracts that each is likely to receive.
Three players who are eligible for arbitration should be moving on: second baseman Cesar Hernandez, first baseman Justin Bour, and pitcher Luis Garcia.
The pitchers should all be no-brainers. Nola is the current staff ace, a legitimate Cy Young Award contender. Velasquez, despite his continued command and control issues, has a valuable arm that could help the club at the back end of either the rotation or the bullpen.
Neris also still has a big-time arm. As Corey Seidman for NBC Sports Philadelphia pointed out in his own look at the arb-eligibles a few weeks back, Neris had the second-highest strikeout rate in the National League this past season behind only Josh Hader.
While Eickhoff and Morgan might seem like interesting choices, neither is likely to be expensive. Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors estimates Eickhoff at $1.7 million and Morgan at $1.1 million for 2019. Those are relatively inexpensive salaries.
If Eickhoff returns from his injury-lost campaign and returns to his 2016 level of performance, the price is a steal. Even just as a back-end rotation option or experienced arm at Triple-A waiting to help in the event of injuries, it’s not an outrageous sum.
Morgan is a favored whipping boy for some Phillies fans. However, turning 29-years-old at the start of spring training and with 301.2 innings over four big-league seasons he offers an experienced left-handed arm in the bullpen.
This isn’t just a “lefties are hard to come by” vote for Morgan. For a second straight season, Morgan struck out more batters and allowed fewer hits than innings pitched. After the all-star break, the 101 batters who Morgan faced hit just .242 with one homer off the southpaw.
At the price of just over $1 million for one season and considering that the Phillies hope to actually contend next year, I would bring Morgan back and hope that he continues to grow. He could prove to be a bargain.
In his arbitration breakdown, Seidman write this on Franco:
Signing Franco and then trading him seems like the best route. Franco is coming off of his best full season in the majors but there are only so many starting jobs in the infield. If Rhys Hoskins moves back to first base, it will likely mean Carlos Santana plays third. Franco will be easier to move and could fetch more in a trade than Santana.
Here is my problem with this line of thinking. Yes, there are only so many starting jobs in the infield. But one of those jobs, the third base job, is Franco’s. It has been for most of the last four years, and as Seidman said, last year was his best.
At age 26, Franco is just now entering his prime years. He cannot become a free agent for three more years. The Dominican native has legitimate 30-homer, 100-RBI potential.

Franco is never going to be a top defender at the hot corner. But that is a far cry from playing an aging, extremely limited Santana at the position. Franco might be “easier to move”, but let’s face it, neither he nor Santana will fetch much in trade.
The better decision is to admit the Santana signing was a mistake, and simply move on. Pass him off to another team and pay most of the salary this unfortunate contract owes over the next two years.
I don’t expect Klentak to ever admit to a mistake – he hasn’t admitted to a single one yet – but putting Santana over Franco at third base only compounds one that you already did in fact make. At just over $5 million, Franco could be another huge bargain.
Bour and Garcia are no big losses, and Altherr is an inexpensive risk. A lefty bench bat with some pop such as Bour provides could be valuable under the right circumstances. But that is the kind of weapon that a true contender picks up in July.
Garcia will be 32-years-old in January and the righty provided nothing special this past season. If Altherr is indeed at just around $1.6 million, that’s an inexpensive risk for one more year of someone with his ability and athleticism.
The controversial non-tender would be Hernandez. I argued a year ago that it was time to move on from him, and nothing changed based on the typically empty stats that he provided this past season.
Another mistake that the Phillies made in 2018 was putting a rookie who had excelled at second base throughout his minor league career, Scott Kingery, at the most demanding position of shortstop when he had never played it previously as a professional.
Kingery was a minor league Gold Glover at the keystone, and if the Phillies want to fix another mistake they will move on from Hernandez and the $8.9 million that Swartz predicts he will receive. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hernandez go for $10 million in arbitration. Kingery would do a better all-around job for just $1.5 million next year.
The Phillies will have until November 30 to offer contracts to these players. Should a veteran such as Hernandez or Bour not be offered a contract they are considered to have been non-tendered and will immediately join the ranks of baseball free agents.
For players who are offered arbitration, the Phillies and the individual players will have until January 11 to exchange salary figures for the 2019 season. Any such player who is unable to reach an agreement with the team will head to an arbitration hearing at a date to be determined during February.
The Phillies hould bring back the seven players at or near the arbitration figures they are estimated to be awarded. Do that, and the club will still have roughly $90-100 million to spend on new salaries before reaching the $206 million Competitive Value Tax for the 2019 season.
GM Matt Klentak is on the hot seat in this pivotal Hot Stove season for the Phillies. The decisions that he and his analytics crew make in handling the arbitration cases, particularly those of Franco and Hernandez, will be another key piece to the puzzle in trying to form a contending team.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “How the Phillies should handle their 10 remaining arbitration-eligible players

MLB, NFL, and college football to join those affected by Hurricane Florence

By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA - Limb View of Hurricane Florence, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72696528
Hurricane Florence (upper right) approaches the Carolinas
(Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Wiki Commons)
The Philadelphia Phillies have an off-day in the 2018 schedule today. Thursday will be spent at their homes, with the slumping club in the middle of the final lengthy home stand of the season.
As the Phillies sit at home, the Miami Marlins are on the road. Today they will be making the short trip down I-95 from New York to Philadelphia following a series there with the host Mets.
After completing their sweep of the Phillies last night, the Washington Nationals headed back south to their home in the nation’s capital. The Nats will host the Chicago Cubs to make-up a game postponed during a series affected by weather just last weekend.
The Nationals, who have now pulled within a single game of the Phillies in the loss column in the National League East Division standings, then go on the road further south for a five-game trip to Atlanta and Miami.
All of this Major League Baseball action up and down the east coast comes at exactly the same time that Hurricane Florence will be reaching the United States.
The massive storm is expected to strike directly at the North Carolina-South Carolina border late Thursday and into Friday leaving destruction and likely death in its wake thanks to high winds, storm surge, flooding, and related issues.
The weather forecast in Philadelphia is looking good for this weekend, with no more than a 20% chance of rain at any point. That is thanks to a high-pressure system, one that will actually be a major contributor to the problems experienced by others.
That high-pressure system will keep Florence to our south, holding it in place in the Carolinas longer. This means heavy rainfall and flooding will continue inland for days after the storm makes its initial landfall at the coast.
But for their division rivals and for at least one of the Phillies own players, the storm will still be having an effect. In fact, because of the proximity to the storm area and even the slight chance that it could track a bit further north, the Cubs wanted to have their trip to D.C. postponed until October 1.
Whitney McIntosh with SB Nation described how the whole Nationals-Cubs situation developed in the first place, and why this particular date was selected for the make-up game:
“…all stemmed from a rainy weekend in D.C., which involved more than 10 hours of rain delays over multiple days. Including a Friday night debacle (September 7) where the Nationals wanted to call it early and Cubs players held out in the hopes the rain would move on. Frustration abounded and fans were confused as the delay dragged on into the night. That all led to a late-night postponement and a true doubleheader played on Saturday (which was also delayed!), followed by yet another postponement on Sunday. With Thursday the only shared off day for both teams, it was the easiest and only choice for a rescheduling.”
Bottom line, MLB did not want to risk the chance of rescheduling on October 1, which was the Cubs preference due to the storm. What if that game proved vital to the standings and was itself postponed by weather? Such a scenario could then back-up the entire postseason schedule. “Our voices have certainly been heard, but we don’t have any control,” said Chicago GM Theo Epstein per McIntosh.

Phillies newcomer Justin Bour was born in Washington, D.C. and went to college at George Mason University in northern Virginia. He is the lone player currently on the 40-man roster who is from the general area to be impacted by the storm.
Rios hails from Puerto Rico, and has family still
affected by last year’s Hurricanes Maria and Rita
25-year old rookie relief pitcher Yacksel Rios hails from Puerto Rico, where Hurricanes Maria and Rita caused extensive damage and killed more than 3,000 people just one year ago. The island is still trying to recover today.
I’ve been thinking all the time,” Rios told Matt Gelb of Philly.com late last September. “At least I had contact with my older brother. Just, I’m worried if they’re eating or not. I know they have some supplies there. But I don’t know for how long it will last them. They say power will be gone for months. I feel desperate. I can’t talk with them. I want to send things. If they need something, I want to send something. But they don’t respond.
Those are exactly the types of emotions that folks in the Carolinas will be experiencing in the coming hours, days, weeks, and even months.
Just two weeks ago, my wife and I drove down to Florida from Philadelphia, and of course drove right through the areas to be directly impacted by Hurricane Florence. By coincidence we stayed overnight at a hotel in Florence, South Carolina. Beautiful country with wonderful people, many of whom will have evacuated by now.
The lone MLB game that is likely to be directly affected by the storm will come on Friday night in Baltimore, where the host Orioles contest with the Chicago White Sox faces an 80% chance of thunderstorms due to the outskirts of the storm. However, the NL East teams will each have to keep the storm in mind as they travel up and down the coast.
Football games are being affected as well. College games are already being rescheduled at Clemson, Liberty, and Coastal Carolina. The Marshall at South Carolina game has been cancelled completely.
In the NFL, the Carolina Panthers are scheduled to be at the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon. Panthers coach Ron Rivera stated that the team is making “several contingency plans” for the players and their families per Jordan Rodrigue with the Charlotte Observer.
“And our thoughts and prayers most certainly go to everybody that is in the path of this hurricane, just to make sure everybody is safe. But we do have a few plans, and as each day goes by we will see where we are before we make any decisions.”
The Eagles fly to Tampa for a game this weekend
The Philadelphia Eagles travel south to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. It is expected that many fans of the Super Bowl champion Eagles will be making the trip. Any who are planning on traveling to Florida over the next couple of days should be sure to check for changes and delays to airline and train schedules.
Local Philly meteorologist Katie Fehlinger with CBS3 commented on the Eagles game and travel impacts for fans per Glenn Erby at the USA Today’s “Eagles Wire”:
Unless fans are connecting in Charlotte or Atlanta, I doubt they’d have any major problem flying there. We and Tampa will thankfully be spared the worst of the storm. I can’t imagine many would be driving or taking the train, but those routes are probably going to be closed off, clogged or rerouted.
STAY INFORMED at this link for the National Weather Service dedicated site for updated information on Hurricane Florence.

Phillies may still have one final playoff push left in their 2018 season

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Asdrubal Cabrera’s addition failed to help Phillies stay in contention

Frankly, I’m tired of thinking in terms of what this 2018 Philadelphia Phillies ball club can’t get done. 

I really don’t think they are a playoff team just yet. But I’ve also always been a glass-half-full guy. So, it’s time to examine the possibilities once again.
Much has been made of the Philadelphia Phillies sudden inability to win a series. They have now lost nine in a row going back to an early-August four-game sweep of Miami at Citizens Bank Park.
What you may not realize is that it was exactly one month ago today that the team’s 2018 hopes had crested. Fans had little reason to suspect what was about to happen next and unfold over this past calendar month.
On Wednesday morning, August 8, the Phillies woke up in Phoenix, Arizona as a first-place team. They were tied in the loss column with the Atlanta Braves, but had played and won three more times. Their lead was at two games in the loss column for an NL Wildcard playoff berth.
The club had defeated the host Arizona Diamondbacks the previous night by a 5-2 score when Nick Pivetta matched Dbacks ace Zack Greinke pitch for pitch. What had been a 1-0 pitcher’s duel was busted open with a four-run rally in the top of the eighth against former Phillies reliever Jake Diekman.
It was a sixth victory in seven games for the team. The lone defeat had come in the series opener on a 14th inning walkoff. The last defeat prior to the winning stretch had been a 13th inning walkoff at the hands of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The Phillies were winning baseball games and playing good teams tough on a regular basis. And there were signs that the club might finally be scoring runs on a consistent basis, something which had eluded them for much of the season. The Tuesday night victory was the fifth straight in which the club had scored at least five times.
Then on that Wednesday night the Phillies were shutout by Arizona’s lefty ace Patrick Corbin. No shame there. Corbin was an NL All-Star this season and was emerging as one of the top pitchers in all of baseball.
After an off-day the Phillies moved on to San Diego to face the Padres, the last place team in the West Division and owners of the worst record in the entire National League. Once again, they were shut out, this time by rookie Jacob Nix.
Those consecutive white-washings proved to be the beginning of a month-long 9-17 collapse leading up to last night’s opener at Citi Field in New York.
The month of losing had left the Phillies staring up at a three-game deficit to Atlanta in the division and had dropped them four games off the final Wildcard pace with four teams between them and that last-chance playoff spot.
But here we sit on Saturday morning, September 8, and the Phillies are still very much alive. The Braves faced a tough schedule this week, playing the Red Sox and Diamondbacks. They have gone just 1-4 to this point. Atlanta has lost seven of their last 10 overall, nine of their last 14 games.
With the Phillies 4-3 win over the Mets last night coupled with a Braves 5-3 loss to Arizona the division deficit has been cut to just two games in the loss column. There are still 22 games remaining for the Phillies this season, including seven of the final 11 as head-to-head battles with Atlanta.
The Phillies still have not resolved a huge negative issue that has plagued the team all year long. They still are not scoring on a consistent basis. 
Prior to last night the lone Phillies victory of the past week came when the offense erupted for nine runs in Miami. But in the other four games, all losses, the team managed to score just a single run in each.
Management tried to help by bringing in veterans Asdrubal CabreraWilson Ramos, and Justin Bour to bolster the attack and provide greater depth. It really hasn’t helped very much.

Cabrera arrived and played in his first game on July 28. The club lost the first three games in which he played. That was followed by a five-game winning streak. But then the month of losing began immediately afterwards. Over 36 games he is slashing .235/.273/.419 with a .692 OPS.
Ramos was injured when the Phillies acquired him from Tampa Bay and didn’t play in his first game until August 15. The Phillies have gone 9-13 since then. Ramos has hit well, slashing .375/.426/.604 with a 1.030 OPS. However, he has only played in 15 of those 22 games, including just a dozen starts.
Despite all of the offensive struggles, the Phillies have something fundamental that could still help them win the division this season: math. There is no way that this team is going to continue to play down to the .346 winning percentage of this last month. That math is going to eventually turn back in their favor.
Here is what the Phillies need to do at this point. They need to keep fighting, game to game. They need to believe again, something that Kapler had them doing well up until a month ago.
They need to remain within no worse than a couple of games out, as they are right now, for the next 10 days. That would get the Phillies into the final stretch of games with the Braves with their 2018 fate right in front of them in their own hands.
At this point, the Phillies are what they are: inconsistent offense, mediocre defense. But there are also just three weeks left in the regular season, and they are right there battling for the division crown.
I’ve been as critical of the Phillies over this last month as anyone. Mistakes have been made, both in putting this team together and in managing it during the season. 
I truly believe with just a couple of different decisions, and with handling some of these players just a little differently, that it could have been even better at this point.
But we all know that for the last five years it has been much, much worse. Losing, last place, bottom-feeding, ugly baseball with little hope for a brighter future. 
That is not where we are now. This team is clearly ready to win. They’re hungry for it, and they were able to find a way to do it for most of the year.
Former Phillies superstar shortstop and team leader Jimmy Rollins was asked about the current mostly young Phillies squad and quoted this week by Scott Lauber of Philly.com on the importance of developing a winning mindset:

“This late in the season, it’s about the win-loss column, but in the beginning, you have to believe you can win. It’s like, ‘I know we’re going to win.’ And once you get that mentality — it starts with the first guy, through the staff, through upper management, to the last guy in the bullpen — you know something good is going to happen. You have to learn how to think, ‘I am not going to lose.’ “

If someone told me back in Clearwater during spring training in March that the Phillies could be two games out of the division lead with three weeks to play, I would have been ecstatic. I would have been excited for the season ahead.
That is how Phillies fans should feel right now. Ecstatic at the results of this 2018 season. Excited at the possibilities for the future. And by the future, I don’t mean next year or the next decade. I mean for these next three weeks.
Possibilities are still very real for this current Phillies team, warts and all. There is no reason that this team can’t suddenly get hot again for a couple of weeks and push the Braves, maybe even pass them, before those two late-September series arrive.
The last of those regular season games with the Braves is scheduled for Sunday, September 30. The Phillies no longer have to play well for 162 games to make the playoffs. They just need to play well for most of the 22 games remaining. 
If they have three mostly good weeks in them, we could still see a return of ‘Red October’ baseball to Citizens Bank Park.

Matt Klentak might be wise to look into lefty reliever Francisco Liriano

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Francisco Liriano could help the Phillies as a lefty reliever

There is a great deal of warranted interest and excitement every year around the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in Major League Baseball.

Teams can deal away players up until 4:00PM EDT on that date without first subjecting them to the waiver wire.

Once that deadline passes it doesn’t mean that trades cannot be made. After that point players can still be dealt. However, they must first pass through waivers.
Non-contending teams frequently will put a player they are interested in dealing on waivers during the month of August. Each of the other 29 clubs in MLB have an opportunity to make a claim in reverse order of the current standings.
If no one claims the player, he enters into a status of having “cleared waivers” and he can then be traded. If the player is claimed, the team who waived him can let him go to the claiming team, can pull him back, or can work out a trade with the claiming team.
It happens every year that some players are dealt in this manner. Phillies fans may remember that a couple of the 2008 World Series heroes, Chase Utley in 2015 and Carlos Ruiz in 2016, were each dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the month of August.
Phillies already made one August move
this year, adding Bour’s veteran lefty bat.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has already moved once this month to help strengthen his club. The Phillies GM obtained Justin Bour on August 10 from the Miami Marlins in exchange for prospect pitcher McKenzie Mills.
Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors has reported that veteran left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano of the Detroit Tigers as cleared waivers. 
Adams describes the value that Liriano could bring to a team such as the Phillies:There is another player out there who has apparently cleared waivers who could also help the Phillies, and who might come at a similarly reasonable cost.

“…he’s held left-handed pitching to a terrible .141/.247/.239 slash through 81 plate appearances. With $984K still owed to him through the end of the year, he’d be a reasonably affordable lefty specialist for a contending team’s bullpen.”

Liriano is a 34-year-old now in his 13th big league season. He was originally signed as a teenager by the Minnesota Twins, and broke in with the Twins in the 2005 season.
In his first full season with Minnesota in 2006, Liriano went 12-3 with a 144/23 K:BB ratio over 121 innings in 28 games, 16 of those as a starter. He made the American League all-star team and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
He would go on to have big years with the Twins in 2010 when he finished 11th in the AL Cy Young Award voting, and then in 2013 when he finished 9th in the NL Cy Young voting as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
At the July 31, 2017 non-waiver deadline, Liriano was dealt from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Houston Astros. A member of the Jays rotation, Liriano became a lefty specialist with the Astros, making 20 appearances out of the bullpen for manager A.J. Hinch and helping the team nail down the AL West Division crown.
During the postseason he tossed 2.1 innings over five total appearances across the ALDS, ALCS, and the World Series, helping Houston win its first ever championship. He allowed one run, a homer to Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of that American League Division Series at Fenway Park.
Liriano signed with the Tigers as a free agent just prior to spring training opening back at the end of February. Pitching mostly as a member of the Detroit starting rotation he has compiled a 3-8 record, allowing just 89 hits across 97.1 innings. He flirted with no-hitters twice this season.
However, Liriano has experienced problems with his command and control. Those struggles have resulted in 58 walks, an unsightly 5.4 per nine innings. With his FIP mark at 5.63 compared to a 4.72 ERA, it could be argued that Liriano has pitched even worse than his overall poor numbers would suggest.
What we are talking about here is the ability to add a veteran left-hander with a history of prior success. One who has pitched deep into the postseason as recently as a year ago for a world championship team.
It’s all about price. He’s not owed very much in salary for the balance of this season. There is no commitment beyond this year. If you can get him for a song, which you may be able to, it certainly seems worth looking into by the Phillies.
Klentak has worked over the last three weeks to bring in veterans to help this surprising contender. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Wilson Ramos at the non-waiver deadline, Bour after it passed. Liriano would be that same type of short-term, inexpensive move.
Both Aaron Loup and Austin Davis are on the disabled list. Right now, Adam Morgan is the lone left-hander in the Phillies bullpen. Unless there is some personal, medical, or other issue with Liriano that doesn’t appear on the surface, then if I’m Klentak, I’m on the phone with Tigers GM Al Avila today.