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The Phillies need help in their rotation and bullpen at the trade deadline | Extra Innings

The Phillies finished the first half strong, but they need help if they are going to catch the first-place New York Mets.

The Phillies' bullpen situation looks better with Ranger Suarez in the closer role.
The Phillies' bullpen situation looks better with Ranger Suarez in the closer role.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

There have been years when it felt as though the Home Run Derby the night before the All-Star Game had jumped the shark, but this was not one of them. Thanks to the awesome overall power display by the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso and the head-to-head, double-overtime battle that Washington’s Juan Soto won over the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani in the first round, the dinger exhibition made for terrific television Monday night.

Of course, the thin air of Coors Field is also the perfect place for a long-ball competition.

Alonso defended the title he won as a rookie in 2019 at Progressive Field in Cleveland and has now earned $2 million in the Home Run Derby. That is about $600,000 more than he will earn in his first three seasons from the Mets.

One interesting question: Would you rather have Alonso or Rhys Hoskins as your first baseman?

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Do the Phillies need a starter or a reliever more at the trade deadline?

By going 5-2 on their final road trip of the first half, the Phillies pulled to within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Mets and greatly enhanced their chances of being a buyer rather than a seller at the July 31 trade deadline.

Now the question is this: Do they need starting pitching or relief pitching more?

The answer is still relief pitching, but the bullpen looks better with Ranger Suarez in the closer role than it has at any time over the last two seasons. In truth, the Phillies could really use a starter and two bullpen arms if they want to catch the Mets.

With as many as 20 of 30 teams probably still more in buying than selling mode, it will not be easy to add either. The two premier relievers who might be available are Craig Kimbrel of the Cubs and Daniel Hudson of the Nationals. Both will be free agents after this season. Pittsburgh’s Richard Rodriguez, who is under team control through 2023, would be a great addition, as would Texas veteran right-hander Ian Kennedy, who has made a successful transition from starter to reliever at age 36.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, with a depleted rotation, are likely going to land an elite starter, and it will be interesting to see if Washington will part with its ace, Max Scherzer, and then try to resign him as a free agent after the season. Two other starters who will definitely attract attention are Jon Gray from the Rockies and Kyle Gibson from the Rangers.

The rundown

Matt Breen has the skinny on the nine players the Phillies took on the second day of the MLB draft, including second-round pick Ethan Wilson, a left-handed hitter from South Alabama.

Bishop Eustace Prep left-hander Anthony Solometo did not have to wait long to hear his name selected on the second day of the draft. He was the very first pick of the second round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who also selected Malvern Prep center fielder Lonnie White Jr. with the 64th overall pick later in the second round. The great Marc Narducci has all the details about the local players selected.

National League manager Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers picked Scherzer ahead of the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler as the Senior Circuit’s starting pitcher for Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Columnist Mike Sielski caught up with Cheltenham native and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson ahead of the 50th anniversary of the slugger’s legendary All-Star Game home run off the roof top at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

Important dates

Tonight: All-Star Game in Denver, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Phillies start second half at home with a doubleheader vs. Miami, 4:05 p.m.

Sunday: Series finale with Marlins, 1:05 p.m.

Monday: Off day

Tuesday, July 20: Phillies open a two-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx, 7:05 p.m.

Stat of the day

On this date in 1896, Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty became the second player in major-league history — Bobby Lowe of the Boston Beaneaters was the first in 1894 — to hit four home runs in a game. The Inquirer’s uncredited writer in the next day’s newspaper, however, was more disturbed by the Phillies’ latest loss to the Chicago Colts at West Side Grounds than he was enamored with Delahanty’s remarkable feat.

The Inquirer report: The game was won by the Colts by a score of 9 to 8, and one would think it might have been a close game to glance over the score. But it was not, and was not even interesting, outside of the batting done by the man who is now guarding the initial bag for the Quakers.

Apparently, the Philadelphia media was really tough in the late 19th century.

Some interesting facts: A year later on the same date, Delahanty went 9-for-9 in a doubleheader sweep at Louisville. The fourth player to hit four home runs in a game was the Phillies’ Chuck Klein in 1936 at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field, and Mike Schmidt became the 10th player to accomplish the feat in 1976 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Phillies are the only team with three players who have hit four homers in a game.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.

Question: Why is [Aaron] Nola having such an average season? What’s he doing to return to his normal performance? — @CarlAbel14 via Twitter

Answer: Thanks for the question and for reading Extra Innings. Just looking at the numbers, you could argue that Nola was actually a little unlucky during the first half of the season. His walk rate is at a career low and his strikeout rate is the second highest of his career, so he is obviously doing something right in that regard. His mistakes, however, are being hit more often and for power. Right now, he is on pace to give up a career high in home runs, and when he allowed a career-high 27 homers in 2019, he had a 3.87 ERA, the second highest of his career.

I can assure you that Nola is doing everything he can to improve, and if he can be better in the second half, it would go a long way toward improving the Phillies’ playoff hopes. In fact, if Nola returned to his 2018 form, it would be even better than a trade-deadline acquisition for the Phillies.