The Phillies were hammered in Los Angeles. They lost one of their best players to a season-ending injury and maybe one of their last, remaining healthy relievers. But, they are still standing. The Phillies survived their West Coast trip and spent Thursday’s day off with a touching tribute to David Montgomery at Citizens Bank Park. Tonight, it’s back to baseball, and the Phillies have a two-game lead in the division to protect.

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— Matt Breen (extrainnings@inquirer.com)

Dallas Keuchel reportedly has agreed to a $13 million contract with the Braves.
David J. Phillip / AP
Dallas Keuchel reportedly has agreed to a $13 million contract with the Braves.

Phillies passed on Keuchel, but they’ll add a pitcher

Dallas Keuchel will be pitching this season in the National League East, but it won’t be for the Phillies. The pitcher, according to reports, signed Thursday night with Atlanta on a one-year deal worth $13 million.

The Phillies know they need a starting pitcher. But Keuchel, especially at that price tag, was not the arm they wanted. And that’s OK.

The Phillies are roughly $10 million under the luxury-tax threshold, and signing Keuchel would have limited what they could do over the next eight weeks. They need a starting pitcher, a reliever, and a bat off the bench. Signing Keuchel, who has not pitched in eight months and will not be ready for likely another month, would have taken up all their financial resources.

Signing Keuchel also would have come with concerns. His ERA last season, 3.74, was nearly a run higher than in 2017. Both his strikeout rate and ground-ball rate dropped and his fly-ball rate increased, which could have been concerning for a ground-ball pitcher who would have been starting in the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. Hitters made more contact, and he generated fewer swings and misses. His velocity was steady, but he threw 60 more innings in 2018 than in 2017. After his biggest workload in three years, Keuchel will just be thrust into the midst of a season.

Signing Keuchel would have given the Phillies’ right-handed-exclusive rotation a left-handed option. It would have given them a playoff-tested arm for a pennant chase. And it would have kept him away from a division rival.

But signing Keuchel was not their only option. More good starters — including Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Mike Minor — will be available, and the Phillies will make a run at them. It’s OK to be patient. The trade deadline is July 31, not June 7. The Phillies did not have to force themselves into signing Keuchel.

The rundown

The Phillies seem to be erasing Odubel Herrera from memory, as they removed his likeness from Citizens Bank Park this week. They removed four banners outside the park and replaced a large sign on the main concourse. The Phillies have not decided if they will release Herrera, but they said it was inappropriate to have his likeness on display while MLB conducts an investigation into Herrera’s arrest.

Have you noticed Adam Haseley’s old-school swing? Scott Lauber dived into Haseley’s swing, which goes against what almost every other hitter in baseball is being taught. Lauber spoke to Haseley’s old hitting coaches to find more about what Haseley describes as a “handy” swing. ”The pure hitters are fading out of the game — the Pete Roses, the Tony Gwynns, guys that can absolutely do it all," said Tyler Henson, Haseley’s hitting coach earlier this season at double-A Reading. "They could hit for power. They could move the ball around the field wherever they wanted. I think Adam’s that type of guy.”

It looks as if Scott Kingery might be done moving around the diamond, Bob Brookover writes. The Phillies seem to be moving Kingery to third base on a regular basis as Maikel Franco is stuck in a slump. The Phillies had shuffled Kingery around the diamond since last year: third base, shortstop, second base, the outfield. Now, he might finally be playing in one spot.

Important dates

Tonight: Zach Eflin faces Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle, 7:05 p.m.

Tomorrow: Nick Pivetta returns after a strong start to face right-hander Tanner Roark, 4:05 p.m.

Sunday: Aaron Nola tries to rebound against right-hander Sonny Gray, 1:05 p.m.

Monday: Phillies open three-game series against Arizona, 7:05 p.m.

The wife of late Phillies executive David P. Montgomery, Lynn Montgomery, meets with Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred before a celebration of life at Citizens Bank Park.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
The wife of late Phillies executive David P. Montgomery, Lynn Montgomery, meets with Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred before a celebration of life at Citizens Bank Park.

One more story about David Montgomery

It’s been told a few times that Tampa Bay fans were unhappy during the 2008 World Series about the treatment they received from Phillies fans when they visited Citizens Bank Park that October.

Well, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred added a new layer to the story Thursday during his remarks at the Phillies’ memorial service for late team president David Montgomery at the ballpark.

“One of the few disagreements I had with Dave took place during the 2008 World Series,” Manfred said. “And that disagreement was fueled by Dave’s fierce loyalty to the fans of Philadelphia. During one of the World Series games, we received a complaint about how some Tampa fans were being treated by the Phillies faithful. Then Commissioner Selig asked me to speak to Dave. That conversation did not go well.

“Dave absolutely refused to accept the possibility that his fans might be out of line. In fact, he dismissed me quickly and suggested that the Tampa fans were just too sensitive.”

Montgomery, Manfred said, was “Philly through and through.” And his response was as Philly as you can find.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.

Question: So, now with Cutch [Andrew McCutchen] out, it brings up a question I’ve been wondering for awhile now. Where is Dylan Cozens? The Iron Pigs put him on the IL some time ago & I never heard what the problem was or when he might be back. I thought he looked good in major league spring training & this would maybe be his big opportunity. — Rich C. via email

Answer: Thanks, Rich. Cozens is out until at least September after undergoing surgery last month to remove a bone spur and repair cartilage in his left big toe. His season could be over, but Cozens said he’ll be back.

That leaves just Roman Quinn and Nick Williams as the outfielders on the 40-man roster who are not with the team. Quinn is in Florida rehabbing an injury and seems close to returning. He cannot be optioned to the minor leagues, so he will join the major-league roster when he’s ready. Williams is in triple A.