Another day, another blown lead, another ugly loss. Wait? What? The production team is telling me I wrote something very similar to this just a couple days ago after the Phillies lost in Cincinnati and is suggesting that I need to be more creative.
Mind your own business. This is the Phillies’ story, and they’re sticking to it.
There were a few twists to the Phillies’ 11-6 loss to the Miami Marlins Wednesday. If we’ve learned anything in the last week, it’s that Hector Neris doesn’t need to be in the game in order for the Phillies to blow a lead. This time, leads of 4-1 and 5-2 were coughed up by Aaron Nola and reliever Neftalí Feliz, who combined to allow six runs on seven hits in the fifth inning.
Nola struck out 11 and was the victim of some fifth-inning bloop hits on pitches that were out of the strike zone, but that was of little consolation to him and the team.
“You can’t do anything about [the bloops],” Nola said. “They were placed perfectly and I made the pitches the best that I can and they got a bat on it. It’s tough to swallow, but they’re hits and they got four of them right there [in the fifth inning] and [Jesús] Sánchez hit a hard one to score the rest of those guys.”
The fact that the game took 4 hours and 6 minutes to play and included a 38-minute rain delay only added to the wretched ambience at Citizens Bank Park.
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— Bob Brookover (email@example.com)
The Phillies should consider trading Aaron Nola
During a recent radio hit with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli, the host asked me if I thought the Phillies should trade Aaron Nola at the deadline. I said no, but here we are a few days later and I might be willing to reconsider.
It has nothing to do with Nola’s performance this season or even the fact that he failed to get through the sixth inning in five of his six June starts and finished the month with a 6.00 ERA. Missanelli’s point was that Nola is the player with the most trade value on the roster, and he’s right about that.
The 28-year-old righthander is in the third year of a four-year deal worth $45 million. He is scheduled to make $15.5 million next season, and there is a team option for $16 million in 2023. Given Nola’s career resumé, those salaries would be considered team-friendly and should yield the Phillies tremendous value in terms of prospects that are close to being ready to perform in the big leagues.
Would it be difficult to see Nola go elsewhere?
Absolutely. Since the day the Phillies selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft, he has been a tremendous role model on and off the field, and in all probability he has a lot of good years ahead of him. But it’s becoming more and more apparent that something needs to change with the Phillies, and sometimes dealing a big name can have an eye-opening impact on the rest of the ball club.
Even if the Phillies decide not to deal Nola, it’s obvious that some kind of shake-up is needed. The team’s three untouchables are Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Zack Wheeler. They’d all be difficult to deal anyway because of their big contracts. I’d be reluctant to move Alec Bohm, too.
Everybody else on the 40-man roster, however, should be open for discussion. If team president Dave Dombrowski thinks he can get fair value for Rhys Hoskins, he should pull the trigger. If Jean Segura can bring back a decent prospect, it’s a move worth making. Odúbel Herrera has proven he belongs in the big leagues again, so maybe a contender would be willing to give up something for him. Andrew McCutchen’s .231 batting average isn’t all that attractive, but his 13 home runs rank sixth and his .351 on-base percentage is fifth among all leftfielders in baseball, so maybe he can be shipped to a contender for something of value.
Given their inability to muster any momentum, the Phillies need to be sellers, and their most valuable player in that regard is Nola. The Phillies are 8-9 in his 17 starts this season after going 5-7 in his 12 starts last year. Since they can’t win more than they lose with him on the mound, it’s at least worth considering moving him for the value of multiple top-level prospects.
Joe Girardi only had five relievers available for Wednesday night’s game because Ranger Suárez was sidelined by back spasms and José Alvarado was unavailable. That’s why Aaron Nola’s most recent abbreviated outing was so costly, writes Scott Lauber.
Phillies reliever Brandon Kintzler explained why he welcomes baseball’s recent decision to police the use of foreign substances by pitchers. “Everyone who thought they were good, they’re not so good anymore,” he said.
Tonight: Zach Eflin goes against Pablo López in series finale with the Marlins, 6:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Zack Wheeler pitches series opener against San Diego, 6:05 p.m.
Saturday: Matt Moore faces the Padres’ Yu Darvish, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: Happy Independence Day! Vince Velasquez pitches series finale against Padres, 1:05 p.m.
Monday: Phillies open a series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, 8:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
On this date in 2018, the Phillies used eight relievers in a 13-inning win over the Washington Nationals, and none of the eight allowed a run, establishing a team record. The eight relievers that night were Austin Davis, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, Mark Leiter Jr., Adam Morgan, Jake Thompson, Victor Arano, and Nick Pivetta. None of the eight are still with the team. Andrew Knapp won the game for the Phillies with a home run in the bottom of the 13th inning.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.
Question: “Should the Phillies be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline given all the shortcomings they currently have?” — Joe F., via email
Answer: Now that we’re in July, I know this question is going to be asked a lot and I think I made it clear in the body of the newsletter that I think the Phillies need to be sellers. It could be a tough decision, however, because the National League East just does not have a dominant team. Even with their 10th loss in 15 games Wednesday, the Phillies remained just five games behind the Mets, who were crushed, 20-2, in Atlanta last night. The Nationals are the hottest team in the division and just two games out, but they are also flawed. Sometimes you can be a seller and it leads to improvement. The Phillies, for example, traded David Bell, Bobby Abreu, and Rheal Cormier at the deadline in 2006 and did not get anything particularly good in return. They did, however, go 36-23 the rest of the season and it seemed to set the stage for much better things in their future.