Phillies manager Joe Girardi led with the good news, a tricky feat considering the glum status of his ballclub as it packed up and left Marlins Park on Monday night.
“The good news is Zack [Wheeler] threw a 41-pitch bullpen today,” Girardi said after the Phillies completed their 2-5 trip to Miami. “You got to wait to see how he feels [Tuesday] … but we expect him to pitch in this next series, so we felt good about his work today.”
More good news from the manager: “Obviously, we’re still in a sense in control of our destiny to get to the playoffs and our guys can’t forget that. We won’t forget that. We’ve been here before where we haven’t played so well and we’ve bounced back and played really well, and that’s what we need to do.”
Better to look ahead than behind because not much good happened in Miami or against the Marlins this season.
As of now, the Phillies are the seventh seed in the National League and would match up against the second-seeded Chicago Cubs in a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
The Phillies will begin their final homestand of the season Tuesday night against the New York Mets. After facing Rick Porcello, they will have to take on Jacob deGrom on Wednesday. If the damaged nail on Wheeler’s middle pitching finger is OK, he will likely start Wednesday or Thursday against his former team. Aaron Nola will pitch whichever game Wheeler does not.
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Let’s take a little break from the Phillies — don’t we need one? — and spend some time examining what some former Phillies are doing this season.
Let’s start in Cleveland, where the right side of the infield is made up of two former Phillies: Cesar Hernandez and Carlos Santana.
The Phillies let Hernandez walk away as a free agent after seven seasons, and the 30-year-old second baseman is hitting .266 with a .333 on-base percentage and a .720 OPS. Those numbers are a little below his final four seasons in Philadelphia, but he does lead the American League in doubles with 16 and FanGraphs rates him as the best defensive second baseman in baseball with a 4.7 defensive WAR.
Santana, meanwhile, is having a season quite similar to his one year in Philadelphia. He is hitting just .210 with five home runs and 23 RBIs, but thanks to his league-leading 39 walks, he has a .365 on-base percentage. His OPS is just .692, which would be a career low, and his 0.3 fWAR is 18th among first basemen.
Out in Kansas City, Maikel Franco is having the best season of his career. He has played in all 48 of the Royals' games and is batting .281 with 15 doubles, seven home runs and 31 RBIs. His .802 OPS would be his best mark since his rookie season with the Phillies, and his 0.9 fWAR is tied for the ninth best among third basemen.
To complete what could have been the Phillies' 2020 infield, we move to Seattle for a look at 2013 first-round pick J.P. Crawford. He is hitting .239 with two home runs, 15 RBIs and a .681 OPS. His 0.8 fWAR is tied with the Phillies' Didi Gregorius for 14th in baseball.
Perhaps the best former Phillies story in baseball this season is Darin Ruf. Playing for manager Gabe Kapler’s San Francisco Giants after a three-year stint in South Korea, Ruf is hitting .290 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. He has a .371 on-base percentage and a .904 OPS.
And we’ll finish with Aaron Altherr, another former Phillie trying to make his way back to the big leagues through the KBO, who is hitting .298 with 23 home runs and 87 RBIs for the NC Dinos.
Matt Breen’s game story provides all the gory details from the Phillies’ five-day, seven-game stay in Miami that ended with a third straight loss Monday. Girardi reminded everyone that the Phillies still control their own postseason fate with 14 games remaining.
Catcher J.T. Realmuto and pitcher Zack Wheeler avoided trips to the injured list. First baseman Rhys Hoskins did not.
Tonight: Jake Arrieta faces Rick Porcello and the New York Mets, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Phils face Jacob deGrom and his 1.67 ERA, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday: Final game of series and the season against Mets, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Phils play two vs. Toronto, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: Final home game of the season vs. Blue Jays, 3:05 p.m.
The Marlins continue to frustrate the Phillies, posting a 7-3 record in the season series between the teams. Over the last three seasons, the Marlins are 25-23 against the Phillies and 42-93 against the other three teams in the National League East.
Question: Who do you think has a better chance of becoming the center fielder of the future for the Phillies — Adam Haseley or Roman Quinn? — Matthew L., via email
Answer: Thanks for the question, Matt, and for reading Extra Innings. It’s an interesting question because it appeared as if Quinn, thanks to his speed, was Girardi’s top preference in center field for much of the season. Quinn started 20 of the first 34 games before suffering a concussion 11 days ago when he crashed into the wall at Citi Field during a game against the Mets.
Up until that point, Haseley had started just eight games, and then even after Quinn was hurt, Girardi opted to start Bryce Harper in center field in consecutive games against left-handed pitchers. Since then, Haseley has started six of eight games and batted .368 (7-for-19) with a couple of doubles and five RBIs.
I think Haseley is the better hitter, but Quinn’s speed is a game changer. In the end, I think Haseley has a better chance of being the Phillies' future center fielder.