Tag Archives: Pat Neshek

Jerad Eickhoff pitches Phillies to Friday night victory over Marlins

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Phillies ride brilliant Jerad Eickhoff outing to victory

The Philadelphia Phillies (14-12) road a dynamic performance from starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff and a trio of home runs to a 4-0 victory over the National League East Division rival Miami Marlins (8-18) at a soggy, windy Citizens Bank Park on Friday night.

With the win, the two teams have split the first two games of a four-game weekend series in South Philly. The Phillies bats only recorded six hits on the night against Marlins pitching. But three of the hits left the yard and Eickhoff and the bullpen ensured it would be enough.
J.T. Realmuto put the Phillies on the board first with a one-out home run to right-center field off Marlins starter Jose Urena in the bottom of the 1st inning.
In the bottom of the 4th, Maikel Franco drove an offering from Urena out to the opposite field for a 2-0 lead. The blasts were the fourth on the season for Realmuto and the seventh for Franco.
Then in the home 8th, Realmuto drew a one-out walk. Bryce Harper then stepped up and absolutely crushed a two-strike, 88 mph slider from Marlins reliever Tyler Kinley into the right field upper deck for his 6th home run on the season. The two-run blast extended the Phillies lead out to the final 4-0 margin.
Following Eickhoff to the mound in succession were Edubray RamosAdam Morgan and Pat Neshek. They each took turns keeping Miami off the scoreboard and the Phillies had put a necessary victory into the win column.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

  • Jerad Eickhoff: 7 IP, 0 runs, two hits, one walk, six strikeouts. Threw 86 pitches, 57 for strikes
  • Jose Urena: 7 IP, two runs, four hits, three walks, four strikeouts. Threw 112 pitches, 66 for strikes

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: JERAD EICKHOFF

The Phillies starter had his best curve ball tonight. Mixed in a low-90’s fastball just enough to keep the Miami batters off-balance. Had a no-hitter through four innings, broken up by former Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro leading off the top of the 5th with a clean single to left.

NEXT GAME

  • Saturday April 25 at 6:05 pm vs. the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)

Phillies lose reliever Tommy Hunter as first pitching injury of 2019

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Hunter becomes the first arm to go down in spring training

When objectively evaluating the Philadelphia Phillies 2019 roster for potential strengths and weaknesses, the bullpen would have to be listed on the “strengths” side of the ledger.

The addition of a few talented veterans this off-season to a solid returning group and some growing young arms has the pen looking stronger and deeper than it has in years.
Now less than two weeks into 2019 spring training that bullpen depth will begin to be tested. It’s first member has gone down due to injury. Tommy Hunter will be shut down for in indeterminate amount of time with a Grade 1 strain of the flexor muscle in his right pitching arm.
The flexor mass is a collection of muscles and tendons which come together in the forearm near the elbow. They function by allowing you to turn and flex your wrist. The injury as it affects a pitcher such as Hunter is described as follows by Robert G. Najarian, MD with Inova:
With flexor mass strains, pitchers usually don’t feel pain until the follow-through phase of the pitch. That’s when you need the flexor mass to snap the wrist to get the ball in the strike zone. When the flexor mass is injured, the ball often ends high and pitchers can have problems locating their pitch.
In general, Najarian states, the injury is treated with rest, anti-inflammatories, and a strength/rehabilitation program. Some players are out for just two weeks. For others the recovery can take as long as six to eight weeks. It all depends upon the severity of the injury and the individual player’s ability to recuperate.
The hope is that the Phillies and Hunter caught the injury early enough that this method of recovery will do the job. If such an injury is allowed to go untreated for too long, it could result in ligament damage and possibly the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
Hunter was signed by the Phillies as a free agent in December 2017 to a two-year, $18 million contract. The 32-year-old, 11-year veteran will not throw for two weeks and then will be re-evaluated.

The Phillies bullpen ranked around the middle of baseball last season. The club’s relievers as a group ranked 18th in ERA and BAA, 10th in K/9, and 11th in saves and K/BB among the 30 teams of Major League Baseball.
Hunter was likely going to be called upon by manager Gabe Kapler in the 5th-7th innings. He is one of a strong group of right-handed relievers that also includes David RobertsonPat NeshekHector NerisSeranthony DominguezJuan NicasioEdubray Ramos, and Victor Arano.
Teams usually lose players at some point during the spring training process. But this marks the second injury to a player who was expected to make-up part of the Opening Day roster. Outfielder Odubel Herrera was lost for an undetermined length of time with a hamstring injurylast week.
There is enough roster depth to cover for the loss of Herrera and Hunter at this point. The hope is that these are the most significant injuries that the Phillies have to deal with as they prepare for what is hoped to be a playoff-contending campaign.

Phillies 2019 bullpen just one piece short of elite status

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Juan Nicasio brings a veteran presence to deeper Phillies bullpen

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak had four major boxes that needed to be checked off when this off-season began if he wanted to truly build a contending team for the 2019 season.

Those four were a proven impact run-producer for the middle of the batting order, a better defensive lineup, another veteran starting pitcher (preferably left-handed), and improvements to the bullpen.
With the additions of Andrew McCutchen in left field and Jean Segura at shortstop, the defense should be improved. The club continues to search for the middle-order bat and the southpaw rotation arm.
It cannot be argued that Klentak has not improved the bullpen. Given health, the Phillies relief corps is both talented and deep, and should prove to be a strength for manager Gabe Kapler.
The Phillies have added three new arms to their bullpen. Right-hander Juan Nicasio and left-hander James Pazos arrived as part of the Segura trade from Seattle. Then just days ago the club signed one of baseball’s top relievers over the past decade, David Robertson, as a free agent.

Those three join a returning group that could include any from among righties Hector NerisSeranthony DominguezPat NeshekTommy HunterVictor Arano, and Edubray Ramos. There are two returning lefties in Adam Morgan and Austin Davis as well.
The Phillies could still use a better situational left-handed arm. But a closer look at the statistics shows that the arms needed to win match-ups with big lefty bats may already be here.
Robertson had a 53/10 K:BB ratio against left-handed hitters a year ago. Those opposing lefty batters hit the right-handed Robertson for just a .176 BAA as well as a .378 slugging percentage.
The one negative for Robertson against those lefties was that they got to him for a half-dozen home runs over 132 plate appearances against him. In comparison, he surrendered just one long ball to a right-handed batter over 151 plate appearances against.
During his breakthrough rookie campaign a year ago, lefty batters hit for just a .188 average against Dominguez. His biggest problem with them were walks, as Dominguez handed out 14 free passes to lefties in 116 plate appearances. Compare that to just eight right-handers that he walked over 115 plate appearances.

Ramos also had decent success against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .208 batting average against. Over 58 plate appearances those lefties got to Ramos for just two homers over 58 plate appearances, and he walked just five opposing hitters.
The three primary left-handed relief options at the present time are newcomer Pazos and returnees Morgan and Davis. All three of those southpaw pitchers actually achieved far greater success against right-handed hitters.
Against lefty bats, the Pazos/Morgan/Davis trio allowed 66 hits and walked 26 batters over 273 plate appearances when facing opposition left-handed hitters. Pazos got hit too regularly (.288 BAA) by lefties. Davis was hit hard (.603 slugging percentage) by them. Morgan had severe control issues against them, walking 14 over 121 plate appearances.
I am going to assume that Kapler, Klentak and the Phillies coaching regime are aware of their left-handers’ numbers. My hope is that they won’t simply bring in a lefty arm to face a lefty bat every time. They’ll break down the numbers even further would be my guess, seeing how a particular lefty batter fares against left-handed pitching, for instance.

Klentak is likely not done dealing. There is already a glut of outfielders with McCutchen joining Nick WilliamsRoman QuinnOdubel Herrera, and Aaron Altherr. If the Phillies were to sign Bryce Harper, that glut gets even worse.
If the Phillies were successful in signing Manny Machado, that would create a similar glut on the infield. He and Segura would join Cesar HernandezMaikel Franco, and Scott Kingery.
If Machado signs, plays shortstop, and Segura plays second, then Hernandez is likely trade bait. If it’s Machado at third and Segura at short, then Franco likely becomes the trade bait.
Bottom line is that Klentak is likely to shop every outfielder not named McCutchen, along with either Hernandez or Franco or both, depending on the outcome of the Harper/Machado situations.
Klentak also could be shopping any of the starting pitchers except Aaron Nola or Jake Arrieta. In a trade return the Phillies GM is likely to be looking for an impact left-handed pitcher for either the rotation or the bullpen.
The Phillies bullpen is now noticeably improved. The overall mix could still use that one more piece of a dominant late-innings left-hander. But as of today, the Phillies relief corps is deeper, more talented, and more experienced.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Relief pitching additions give Phillies a stronger, deeper bullpen

Relievers Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek being shopped by Phillies

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Tommy Hunter now among those reportedly being shopped by the Phillies

The MLB Hot Stove season is in full swing as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. The Philadelphia Phillies appear to be involved in a new rumor every single day, and today is no different.

Last week’s hot rumor was that the club was “shopping the hell” out of first baseman Carlos Santana. Now comes word that the Phillies have two more of the veteran free agents signed last off-season, relievers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, on the trade blocks.
A 38-year-old right-hander who brings a dozen years of experience in Major League Baseball with a half-dozen different organizations, Neshek first came to the Phillies in a November 2016 trade with the Houston Astros.
Neshek was flipped at the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for a trio of prospects led by infielder Jose Gomez, who now ranks #16 on MLB.com’s top Phillies prospectslist. Neshek became a free agent that fall and re-signed with the Phillies on December 15, 2017.

Hunter is a 32-year-old right-hander who has also pitched with a half-dozen different MLB organizations across his 11-year big-league career. He signed with the Phillies as a free agent the same day as Neshek last December.
Neshek is owed $7.75 million for next season with a $7 million team option for 2020. There is also a $750k club buyout for that season. Hunter has $9 million owed to him next year and then he will become a free agent.
The first word that the two relievers were being shopped around came today via Jon Heyman on Twitter:
phillies not only have carlos santana on the block, as @Ken_Rosenthal said but also tommy hunter and pat neshek. the relievers had solid years, but with so many quality bullpen arms on the free agent market, timing for trades may not be easy

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The Phillies wouldn’t mind having either reliever return to the team in the 2019 season. Each had a solid year with the club in 2018 and could be expected to continue providing solid experience and results next year.
However, the free agent market is flooded with relief pitchers in this current off-season. If the Phillies could get a team or teams to take on the nearly $17 million owed to the two veterans for 2019, they would likely be able to sign a couple of new free agents at an even better price who could provide similar results.
Among the more attractive arms on the market are Craig KimbrelAndrew MillerZach BrittonAdam OttavinoKelvin Herrera, and Joakim Soria. Some of those pitchers would be expensive. But there are deals to be had among some three dozen available and experienced relief pitchers.

Of course, therein lies the rub. Any potential trade partner could also sign a more affordable free agent from among the many available options. The Phillies would likely have to either eat some of the salary or toss in a prospect to get a deal done.

Phillies have enough to sign Bryce Harper and still go after Mike Trout in two years

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Signing Harper (L) would not preclude also signing Trout (R) and others

There is an old saying when discussing finances – you can’t have it all. Nearly everyone, even most wealthy folks, have to make choices at some point about how to spend their money.

Back in April of this year, Forbes released their annual Major League Baseball team values. The Philadelphia Phillies came in at ninth on the list with a $1.7 billion value attached.
But just because the Phillies are valued that highly doesn’t mean they can spend a billion dollars on player salaries.
How much can the team actually spend? Can they really afford a free agent contract of the magnitude that Bryce Harper or Manny Machado would surely command?
If the Phillies lay out the huge sum that it will cost to bring one or both of those young superstars to Citizens Bank Park for the 2019 season and well into the next decade, how would that affect their ability to put together a further competitive roster?
The team and the fan base certainly would like to be able to afford homegrown young stars Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins. And what about the ultimate Phillies fan pipe dream, bringing Mike Trout home when he becomes a free agent in a couple of years?
Well, I’m here to tell you that it can all get done. Well, at least most of it. In the end you might not have it all. But you will have a lot, and what you do have should excite you.

FISHING FOR TROUT

First, let’s assume that you really, really want the Phillies to sign Trout when he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. That is your ‘Plan A’, the one thing that you want above all others, with everything being equal.
I don’t have to stretch my assumptions to believe that is the case. Any Phillies fan who has been listening to talk radio and following the fans on social media for the last couple of years knows full well that bringing Trout to South Philly is their dream.
Let’s assume it is your dream. What would that take? What might a long-term Trout contract look like?
Figure in what Harper and Machado are likely to get this year. Factor in that Trout will turn 29-years-old when he hits free agency in the fall of 2020. Know that he will have already made over $146 million by that time.
Trout may be looking for the same 10-year deal that will likely be the ask to land either Harper or Machado, even though he will be a couple of years older than both players are now. Such a deal would take Trout through his age 38 season, basically the rest of his career.
I think that we could be looking here at a landmark contract. Trout has been the consensus best player in baseball for a few years now. He has stayed mostly healthy. He is a solid citizen. He is a seven-time all-star, five-time Silver Slugger, two-time MVP. Three other times he has been the runner-up for the AL MVP Award. All of that already at just age 26 years.
It is completely reasonable to believe that we could be looking at baseball’s first $400 million deal. Ten years, $400 million. That is the price tag that I am putting on the next Trout contract, beginning in 2021. So that is where you begin. You will need to factor in roughly $40 million per year of your player salary budget from 2021-30 for Trout.
Let’s say that the Phillies are able to successfully woo Harper to town. He ends up with a $350 million deal over a decade, which, by the way, could be conservative. That would mean budgeting roughly $35 million each year from 2019-2028.
In these combined scenarios you would have Trout and Harper from 2021-28, eight full years, for a total of about $75 million per season spent on just two players.

COMMITMENTS ALREADY MADE

Now what else have the Phillies already committed in salaries over the coming years? There are two big commitments, dollar-wise, that the club has on the books at the present time.
Jake Arrieta is owed $25 million in 2019 and $20 million in 2020. Carlos Santana is owed roughly $20 million each of those same two years. Arrieta has a player option for 2020, so it’s possible you won’t have to worry about that – but let’s assume he stays. For the first two years of the Harper deal, you would also be paying out those two contracts.
The team also owes roughly $22 million next season for the combined contracts on outfielder Odubel Herrera and relievers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. Don’t sweat the pitchers too much, next year is the final year for both.
Finally, the Phillies owe Scott Kingery. But his deal costs just $1.5 million next year and $1.75 million in 2020. Let’s assume the non-tender of Cesar Hernandez and his replacement by Kingery. That saves the club some $7 million or so to fill the second base position with what I believe will prove an upgrade.

ARBITRATION AND THE REST

Earlier this week I wrote a piece here at Phillies Nation on the 10 players eligible for arbitration. If the club does the smart thing and listens to me, signing only the seven players I suggested, it would cost them an estimated $21 million. Those seven are Aaron Nola, Vince VelasquezJerad EickhoffHector NerisAdam MorganMaikel Franco, and Aaron Altherr.
Let’s add it up so far based on next season. For roughly $125 million you would have Kingery and Franco as infielders, Harper, Herrera and Altherr as outfielders. You would have Nola, Velasquez and Eickhoff as rotation options. Righties Neris, Hunter and Neshek along with lefty Morgan in the pen.
Every other returnee could be brought back at the Major League Baseball minimum salary of $555 million for 2019. Here we are talking about players such as Hoskins, Roman QuinnNick WilliamsJorge AlfaroNick PivettaEdubray RamosVictor Arano and J.P. Crawford.
With these figures as a baseline, the Phillies player salaries for the 2019 season would total roughly $145 million. The only new player you have brought in would be Harper. In 2020, you drop off the $16 million from Neshek/Hunter, factor a slight bump up for Herrera/Kingery, and you would have roughly $13 million more to spend.

PLEASE SIT, I WANT SOME MORE

Were it me, and I hope that Matt Klentak is thinking this way, Harper is not my only free agent this off-season. I would be going after at least one starting pitcher at the top of the market.
That would mean someone such as Patrick Corbin. The left-hander could end up costing you $75 million over five years. Even that $15 million more per year keeps you at around $160 million for next season, and the contract is nearly paid for by the 2020 contract adjustments.
The Phillies can certainly afford not only that, but more. And they are actually allowed to spend over $40 million more if they so desire without going over the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $206 million for 2019. That CBT rises to $208 million in 2020 and then $210 million in 2021 before the MLB-MLBPA Basic Agreement runs out in December 2021.

NOLA AND HOSKINS

This is Nola’s first of three arbitration-eligible seasons. So there is no rush to get a long-term deal done from the team’s perspective. He just put up a Cy Young Award-contending season. His value is high, and probably won’t get any higher.
I would work out a 2019 contract for him this off-season, and then look at a long-term deal next summer or next off-season. By then we would have a better idea of the overall team finances and would get to see if he can show that 2018 was just the start of a long, stellar career.
Hoskins is even easier for me. He is a big bat, but one that is limited to first base if you don’t want to hurt your team defense too much. I am a big proponent of strong defensive play, so would never let Hoskins be my starting left fielder.
He is not even eligible for arbitration until after the 2020 season. I am going year-to-year and simply renewing Hoskins for the next couple off-seasons. Then after 2020, let’s see what happens with Trout and where our overall team finances are at that point.

PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER

To me, this is how you need to approach the Trout situation – pay much of the Harper contract up front. Give him $55 million in each of the next two years, and then have the deal trail off to a $30 million average over the final eight years when you need to also pay Trout.
Paying Harper a higher salary in each of the next two years gives you flexibility to add more during the mid-2020’s. That could possibly include paying raises for players like Hoskins and any of the other current youngsters who might still be around at that point.
Also, you have to presume that the CBT threshold will increase substantially in the next Basic Agreement. A five-year MLB BA could see the CBT rise to $250 million by the end, making it easier to fit in such salary commitments.
A team’s total salary hit against that CBT is currently based on the AAV (average annual value) of a contract. So no matter what, the Phillies would take a $35 million hit on Harper and a $40 million hit on Trout. But that is for now. The MLBPA will certainly be going after that issue in the next BA.
Paying Harper much of the money up front could allow the Phillies much more flexibility in possibly trading him down the road, assuming there isn’t a full no-trade for the length of the deal. I would be looking for that opportunity to deal him at some point, maybe 6-7 years down the road, in exchange for that up front money.

HARPER AND MACHADO?

I’m on record as not wanting Machado here in Philly. That has much more to do with his personality than his salary. But let’s say you want him on top of everything else. Can the Phillies possible afford him too? The answer is probably yes.
Figure that Machado would want roughly the same $350 million that Harper will want. Give it to him. Pay him $50 million in each of the next two non-Trout seasons. Then you average a little more than $30 million over the final eight seasons.

In that scenario you are paying Trout $40 million, Machado and Harper each roughly $30 million, each year from 2021-28. That would be $100 million of what should be an overall Phillies player salary budget that remains over $200 million during that entire period.
The ability to handle such contracts would be helped greatly by the team’s ability to bring up productive players from their minor league system.
Filling lineup spots and on the pitching staff with as many young, talented, homegrown players as possible over that decade would make affordability and winning both a much easier. So would
While that sounds massive to fans, the fact is that will be what it costs to put an attractive, star-filled, winning and title-contending team on the field year-after-year. With a team value that should rise to at least the $2 billion mark by that time, the Phillies organization could easily afford it.
Fact is, controlling owner John Middleton and whomever is making up his Philadelphia Phillies management team over the next decade is going to be able to afford a star-studded team.

Now, are they willing to do so? Will they be able to deliver a consistent World Series contender to the fan base that includes players they want to come out and watch? That remains to be seen.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “How Phillies could sign Harper and pitching, do Hoskins and Nola deals, and still pursue Trout