Hey, everybody, it’s Aaron Nola Day.
That’s unquestionably a good thing for the Phillies, who would love it if their ace could somehow start more than one out of every five games. Lately, though, they haven’t taken advantage of having Nola on the mound. Last Friday night, he allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings and the Phillies lost, 11-5, to the New York Mets. Five days before that, on Aug. 25, he gave up three runs in seven innings of a 12-4 loss to the Miami Marlins.
The Phillies are 18-11 in Nola’s starts this season. He’s slated to make six more starts, including tonight. Assuming it will take 87-88 wins to beat out the Chicago Cubs for the National League’s second wild-card berth, and considering the Phillies have 72 wins and 25 games remaining, they probably need to win at least five of Nola’s remaining starts.
“I think everybody understands that when Nola is on the mound it’s not going to take seven or eight runs most likely,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We can scratch four or five across and that’s most likely going to be enough on most days for Aaron Nola. I think we all have that in mind. We all know how important [tonight’s] game is for both Aaron Nola and the club, and we’ll be ready.”
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— Scott Lauber (email@example.com)
It’s difficult enough to come off the bench in the middle of a game and deliver a clutch hit to help win a game in the middle of a playoff push.
Now try doing it one day after burying your grandmother.
Jean Segura capped an emotional 48 hours Tuesday night by crushing a fourth-inning double over the head of Cincinnati Reds center fielder Nick Senzel and scoring the go-ahead run in the Phillies’ 6-2 victory here at Great American Ball Park. He rejoined the Phillies only about an hour before the game after a two-game absence to attend his grandmother’s funeral in the Dominican Republic.
“It’s been tough,” Segura said. “I think I slept five hours in the last two days.”
Segura left the Phillies on Sunday to be with his family. He posted a message in Spanish on Instagram that translated as, “Thank you for that unconditional love you always gave us. I will miss you very much.”
“She meant a lot,” Segura said. “I lost my two grandmothers in the last eight months. It’s tough. As a kid, I grew up seeing my grandmother all the time when I was in the Dominican. Now, life gave me a little bit of a chance to help. Now she’s passed away and I have to handle it.”
For Segura, that meant getting back to work as one of the most accomplished hitters in the Phillies’ lineup.
“It was good to get back and try to forget what I’ve been through the last couple days,” he said. “I know from deep in my heart it’s just sad the last couple of days. But to be able to come here today and contribute to the team, help the boys, it’s good."
On a night when the bullpen delivered six solid innings, Bryce Harper achieved a milestone, becoming the first Phillies player since Ryan Howard in 2011 and the first Phillies outfielder since Pat Burrell in 2005 to have 30 homers and 100 RBI in a season.
If the Phillies miss the playoffs, the reason will be simple, according to David Murphy: General manager Matt Klentak didn’t build a good enough pitching staff. Period. End of story.
Speaking of pitching, the Phillies haven’t categorically ruled out calling up 23-year-old top prospect Spencer Howard. That said, at this point it’s highly unlikely.
Johnny Almaraz has stepped down as scouting director after five years of leading the Phillies’ draft.
Whether or not to bring back Cesar Hernandez will rank among the Phillies’ more intriguing offseason decisions. Bob Brookover takes a look at some of the factors that will determine if the second baseman is part of the team’s vision for 2020.
Tonight: Aces up. Aaron Nola vs. Reds’ Trevor Bauer, 6:40 p.m.
Tomorrow: Jason Vargas vs. Sonny Gray in Cincinnati finale, 12:35 p.m.
Friday: Zach Eflin starts series-opener vs. Mets at Citi Field, 7:10 p.m.
Sunday: Phillies wrap up seven-game road trip in New York, 1:10 p.m.
Monday: Division-leading Braves visit town for a four-game series, 7:05 p.m.
Bryce Harper connected on a two-run homer in the eighth inning Monday, marking the 30th time that he went deep this season. He’s only the fifth player to hit 30 homers in his first season with the Phillies, joining Lefty O’Doul (1929), Benito Santiago (1996), Jim Thome (2003) and Raul Ibanez (2009).
Moreover, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harper is the first player since Dan Uggla in 2010-11 to hit 30 homers in back-to-back seasons for different teams within the same division.
Overall, Harper has similar numbers to last year. He’s slashing .256/.370/.502 with 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in, compared to .249/.393/.496 with 34 homers and 100 RBI in 2018 for the Washington Nationals.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Answer: Thanks, @donaldc58, for the question. It’s a really fascinating one. First, let’s take a minute to appreciate Kingery’s unique versatility. He plays two premium positions (shortstop and center field), in addition to second base, third base and both corner outfield spots. A player with that much adaptability is a tremendous asset.
Traditionally, a player such as Kingery would move to one position now that he’s established in the big leagues. But it’s difficult not to look at Kingery and think about Kansas City Royals star Whit Merrifield. After coming to the majors in 2016 as a multi-position player, he was used primarily at second base in 2017-18. This year, though, he has started 61 games at second base, 48 in right field, 14 in center field, four at first base, and three in left field.
The guess here is that the Phillies will set out to have Kingery play mostly one position next season. I’m just not sure which position it will be. He could be the full-time second baseman if Cesar Hernandez is traded or non-tendered. Or he could be the center fielder if the Phillies move on from Odubel Herrera and decide that Adam Haseley isn’t the answer.