Tag Archives: Matt Harvey

Could Matt Harvey or Derek Holland be next Phillies pitching reclamation projects?

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After being waived by the Angels, could Matt Harvey help Phillies?

It is not secret that the Philadelphia Phillies are looking to upgrade their starting pitching rotation. As the 2019 MLB trade deadline approaches, the club has been linked to almost every arm rumored to be on the market.

General manager Matt Klentak has not limited his attempts at improving the staff to just the trade market, however. Witness this past weekend’s move to sign left-hander Drew Smyly, who had been released by the Texas Rangers.
Smyly paid off, at least for one start, when the 30-year-old, six-year veteran surrendered just one run on four hits over six innings, striking out eight and walking two in a game that the Phillies ultimately won over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Two more veterans with a track record of big-league success, one a right-hander and another a left-hander, are now also available after being recently released by their most recent clubs. The righty is 30-year-old Matt Harvey and the lefty is 32-year-old Derek Holland.
Of course, there is a reason that these pitchers, still in the back-end of their prime years, were released. Neither was impressing in this 2019 season.
Harvey was released by the Los Angeles Angels with a 3-5 record and 7.09 ERA amassed across 12 starts in which he allowed 63 hits over 59.2 innings with a 39/29 K:BB. Holland was 2-4 with a 5.90 ERA, allowing 68 hits over 68.2 innings across 31 appearances, seven of those starts, with a 71/35 K:BB.
All the way back in 2013, Harvey became a National League All-Star and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting as a 24-year-old with the New York Mets. Sadly, he required Tommy John surgery following that season and missed the entirety of the 2014 campaign.

Harvey returned strong in 2015 to win 13 games with a 2.71 ERA over 29 starts. However, he then was forced to undergo thoracic outlet surgery in the middle of the 2016 season, pretty much ending his effective time with New York.
Dealt to the Cincinnati Reds in May 2018, Harvey would go 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA overall in Cincinnati across 24 starts. This past December, Harvey signed a one-year $11 million deal as a free agent with the Angels.

Holland made his mark over eight seasons with the Texas Rangers. (Keith Allison)
Holland was recently released by the San Francisco Giants. After pitching his first eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, with whom he won 16 games as a 24-year-old back in 2011, Holland signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox in December 2016, then again as a free agent with the Giants in February 2018.
140 of Harvey’s 145 career appearances have come as a starter. Holland has made 221 career starts across his 275 appearances. Most of his relief outings have come over the last four years.
The question to be asked is, would either or both of these veteran pitchers be a rotation upgrade for the Phillies? Or, would they be inexpensive enough to take a flyer on, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle?
The answer to the first question is likely a no. Their recent performances have been pretty much on a par with what the Phillies were already getting from Nick Pivetta, who was bumped from the rotation with the Smyly signing.
Now, would they be inexpensive? Relatively speaking, yes. Holland would only be owed a fraction of his $7 million and Harvey a percentage of that $11 million contract. Both are only guaranteed through this season. Neither would require surrendering prospects.
For what would basically be about $8 million, the Phillies could add the two veterans to their bullpen mix, while also having some injury insurance for the rotation, as well as a potential spot-starter if one were needed at any point.
Now, would either or both accept a bullpen role? And would the Phillies entertain such moves? Those are unknowns. Neither has been publicly linked to the club at this point. But Klentak, with both the Smyly signing and the recent trade for reliever Mike Morin, has shown a willingness to try inexpensive quick fixes. These two veterans just might fit the bill as well.

2018 Twins provide lesson and warning for the 2019 Phillies

By Paul Morse - http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/images/20050724_p072405pm-0149jpg-1-624v.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1459062
Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins manager
(Photo by Paul Morse via Wiki Commons)
In 2016 the Minnesota Twins finished with a record of 59-103. It was the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. But the following year the Twins shocked many with an 85-77 season and an American League Wildcard playoff berth.
That 2017 Twins team of a year ago were led by a number of exciting young players such as 24-year-old third baseman Miguel Sano, 23-year-old center fielder Byron Buxton, 25-year-old left fielder Eddie Rosario, and 24-year-old right fielder Max Kepler.
On the mound the Twins received a major boost when 23-year-old rookie right-hander Jose Berrios entered their starting rotation in the middle of May. Another rookie, 24-year-old Adalberto Mejia, provided the club with 21 mostly solid starting outings.
There were key veteran contributions mixed in from players such as Brian Dozier (30), Ervin Santana (34), Kyle Gibson(29), closer Brandon Kintzler (32), Minnesota native and favored son Joe Mauer (34), and even 44-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon.
Though AL Manager of the Year Paul Molitor‘s club went down to the powerful New York Yankees in the AL Wildcard Game, they had set the stage for what appeared to be a regular run of contending seasons.
And then the 2018 season got underway. Injuries and poor performances plagued key youngsters Sano and Buxton all year. A Gold Glover last season, Dozier slumped in his free agency year and was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the July trade deadline. Kepler didn’t necessarily regress, he just failed to step up.
The struggles throughout the lineup have produced a 66-78 season that can be considered nothing less than a disappointment.
In the 2017 season the Philadelphia Phillies went 66-96, the third-worst record in Major League Baseball. It marked a fifth consecutive losing campaign from the Phillies, and the club’s third last-place finish in the division in four years.
But then the 2018 season got underway and the club appeared improved. They jumped to a 16-9 start by April 27, and then to 29-20 by May 26. By the MLB All-Star Game break the Phillies were at 53-42 and had taken over first place in the NL East.
On July 26, a third straight win pushed them to what would be a season-high 2.5 game lead in the division. Continuing to fight through ups and downs as they tried to learn how to win, the Phillies reached their apex on August 5 when a fifth consecutive victory raised their record to 15 games over the .500 mark at 63-48.
Since August 17, when back-to-back wins left them still 14 games above .500, the Phillies have collapsed. In the past month the club has gone just 6-16, and losses in eight of their last 10 games have virtually eliminated them from the postseason conversation.
However, there is no denying that this is going to be considered a step forward season for the Phillies. They are going to finish 10 or more games better in the standings than a year ago. They will be at or near the .500 mark for the first time since 2012 and could have their first winning season since the record-setting 2011 club.
Though they won’t reach the postseason as the Twins did a year ago, they will in many ways have replicated Minnesota’s worst-to-first climb.

There will be some who look over their roster and see young players such as Rhys HoskinsScott KingeryNick WilliamsAaron Nola, and Maikel Franco and think many of the same thoughts as were hung on this year’s Twins prior to the season.
The lesson of the 2018 Twins for the 2019 Phillies should be one of failure to significantly improve the roster with additions from the outside, relying almost solely on perceived natural growth and improvement from young players already here.
In Minnesota, the resources are simply not as great as they are here in Philadelphia. Twins ownership and management did not have the financial wherewithal to go out and add impact talent.
Twins general manager Thad Levine certainly did try. He signed 41-year old closer Fernando Rodney to an affordable one-year deal last December. He got veteran starter Lance Lynn to ink a one-year deal in the middle of spring training. And Levine made a trade with Tampa Bay to bring in starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi.
Phillies GM Klentak squarely on the hot seat this off-season
Rodney and Lynn ended up being dealt to Oakland and the Yankees respectively after the Twins season fell apart. Phillies GM Matt Klentak cannot think that small when putting together his 2019 Phillies roster.
Yes, the Phillies will have taken a step back towards respectability and even contention this year. Yes, there is some young talent on hand that should continue to grow and improve.
But the Phillies are also one of the worst defensive teams in the game by any metric. They are just 11th of the 15 teams in the National League in both OPS and runs scored. As I outlined just yesterday, their back-end starting pitching has largely collapsed over this past month.
Klentak is going to need to find a way to land two proven, impact run-producers for his everyday lineup. He is going to also need to bring in at least one proven, impactful starting pitcher.
The Phillies GM will have plenty of his financial assets with which to work. With less than $70 million in contract commitments the club can afford to take on three big contracts if they so wish. Perhaps more if Klentak can find a way to unload some of the $20 million currently budgeted to be wasted on a 33-year old Carlos Santana.
Those big contracts could take the form of any number of free agents. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the two most frequently mentioned. They would actually be perfect fits at shortstop and in right field, joining Hoskins to form as formidable a 3-4-5 lineup combination as the game would offer for years to come.
The list of free agent starting pitchers could include Patrick CorbinDallas KeuchelJ.A. HappMatt HarveyGio Gonzalez, and more. At the right price for the right number of committed years, any of them could help the rotation.
With a controlling owner in John Middleton who is hungry to win, getting ownership to lay out that financing will not prove to be a problem. It will be squarely on Klentak this winter to make the right moves, convincing the right players to come to Philadelphia in order to ensure that next year’s Phillies do not resemble this year’s Twins.

Velasquez, Eflin take mound for key weekend outings in Cincinnati

Eflin needs to show he is back to June form
The host Cincinnati Reds dumped the Philadelphia Phillies by a 6-4 final score on Friday night at Great American Ball Park.
With the win, the Reds have managed a split of the first two games of this four-game long weekend series with the Phillies.
Despite the defeat, the Phillies remain 2.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East Division standings. The Braves were shut down at home by Clayton Kershaw on Friday, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In gaining the split to this point in the series, the Reds have faced the bottom of the Phillies pitching rotation options. On Thursday night the Phils dipped into their minor league depth for Ranger Suarez. The lefty made his big league debut a winning one.
Last night it was the struggling Nick Pivetta who suffered the loss. Pivetta has been a true head-scratcher this season. There is no question about his stuff. After striking out a dozen Reds batters on Friday night, he now possesses a tremendous 134/32 K:BB ratio over 107.2 innings.
However, Pivetta also surrendered a pair of home runs which resulted in five earned runs scored against him. That lifted his ERA on the season to the 4.85 mark in what was his second straight poor outing since the MLB All-Star Game break.
With those two back-end starting pitching efforts in the rear-view mirror and the club still in first place, these next two games to end the weekend series become pivotal for the Phillies.
Saturday’s match-up will feature a pair of interesting pitchers taking the mound. For the Phillies it will be Vince Velasquez looking to extend what has been the most successful string of starts in his career. The Reds send out Matt Harvey, who moved to Cincinnati and has been largely effective after being dumped by the New York Mets.
Velasquez has pitched into the sixth inning in nine of his last 12 starts and has gotten to the seventh inning on five occasions during that period. He has allowed just 49 hits over 67.1 innings with an 80/24 K:BB ratio during that time.
The knock on Velasquez over the first few years of his career was that he couldn’t get deep into his starts. If this recent stretch of performances is indicative of what’s to come, the 26-year-old will silence those who have felt that his best role would come with a move to the bullpen.
After Velasquez shut down the San Diego Padres last Sunday, manager Gabe Kapler was quoted by Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia on the keys to his pitcher’s increased effectiveness:

“That was as good as he’s been all year. The tempo, the pace and the energy levels were right on. It’s the combination of keeping his rhythm and his pace but not losing control of his body…When he gets runners on base, he’s done a really good job of holding runners on…he does a great job holding the baseball. As a runner at first base, you have difficulty timing your jumps and before you know it, your body shuts down naturally. Across the board, I think he’s been an exceptional athlete for us on the mound.”

For the series finale on Sunday it will be Zach Eflin taking the mound for the Phillies. Though his overall numbers look fine, Eflin struggled mightily in his most recent outing this past Monday night. The Dodgers got to him for three home runs, knocking him out in the third inning.

Eflin had been bothered by a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand prior to the all-star break. That poor performance against the Dodgers marked just his second start in nearly three weeks. This will be an important opportunity for the 24-year-old right-hander to show that he is healthy, and that the club can count on him down the stretch.
Following a big month of June, Eflin was quoted by Matt Breen of Philly.com on his emergence: “I always felt that I belonged here regardless of how I had thrown. That’s the feeling I always had. But to go out there and put up a very good month is definitely rewarding.
To this point, the Phillies have not made a deal to bring in a more veteran arm to help the pitching rotation. Cole Hamels went to the Chicago Cubs. J.A. Happ went to the New York Yankees. With just days to go before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31, there have still been rumors linking the club with Chris Archer.
Whether or not Matt Klentak makes a move to bolster that rotation, the performances of both Velasquez and Eflin over the next two months are likely to be keys for this young Phillies ball club. It begins as this weekend ends, with the team a winner once again, and two emerging starting pitchers trying to help keep it that way.