For a few weeks, from the middle of April through the middle of May, Nick Maton was the best story on the Phillies’ roster.
After Sunday’s game, he got sent back to the minors.
In a transaction that wasn’t accompanied by a corresponding roster move but might be the precursor to shortstop Didi Gregorius’ return from the injured list, Maton was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley. His playing time had been cut way back in recent weeks despite Gregorius’ absence in large part because of utilityman Ronald Torreyes’ hot streak.
Maton began his major league career with 11 hits in his first six games, more than any Phillies player since 1900 except Art Mahan (12 hits in 1940). He also had a memorable two-homer game against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 16 in Dunedin, Fla.
Since then, though, Maton is 1-for-23 with 10 strikeouts. Despite batting from the left side, he had more success against left-handed pitchers (.351 average, .936 OPS) than righties (.200, .519).
”I think it’s growing pains that a young guy goes through,” manager Joe Girardi said of Maton last week. “I mean, overall, he’s played pretty well for us.”
Gregorius hasn’t played since May 12 because of swelling caused by an impingement in his right elbow. He resumed hitting last week during the Phillies’ series in Cincinnati. It’s possible the team determined that Gregorius doesn’t need a minor league rehab assignment before being activated Tuesday night for the series opener against the Atlanta Braves.
Vinny on Voth
In a scary moment in the third inning Sunday, Nationals pitcher Austin Voth was hit in the face by a fastball from Phillies starter Vince Velasquez. Voth suffered a broken nose, according to Nationals manager Davey Martinez, who said the right-hander would stay in Philadelphia on Sunday night to have his nose reset.
“It’s tough,” Velasquez said. “When you see something on TV, guys getting hit in the head, it’s very scary. When you visually see it firsthand, it can be traumatizing. And it’s tough.”
Velasquez also hit the previous batter, Victor Robles, in the left forearm with a fastball. His pitch to Voth clipped the pitcher’s helmet and then hit the left side of his face. Velasquez blamed the loss of command on the 90-degree heat and humidity at first pitch and said he lost his grip on the ball.
“It was a very hot day, and things just managed to get away from me. And it [stinks],” Velasquez said, “I feel terrible for Voth in that situation. I would hate to be in his shoes. No matter the damages, when anybody gets hit, it’s traumatizing on both ends. But it happened. It’s over with, and I hope he recovers and gets back to high speed.”
Milestones for McCutchen
It was a memorable day for left fielder Andrew McCutchen. He scored his 1,000th career run in the Phillies’ seven-run fourth inning and notched his 350th career double in a two-run fifth.
McCutchen, who has nine hits (including three homers) in his last 20 at-bats, is the fifth active player to score 1,000 runs, joining Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, and Justin Upton. He’s also the 241st player ever to reach both the 1,000-run and 350-double marks.
Before the game, the Phillies placed relievers Chase Anderson and David Hale on the COVID-19 restricted list and replaced them with closer Héctor Neris and lefty Cristopher Sánchez. Neris returned from the paternity list after the birth of his daughter last week, while Sánchez was recalled from Lehigh Valley. Sánchez made his major league debut in the eighth inning and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. ... The game was delayed almost 10 minutes in the bottom of the first inning after home-plate umpire Brian O’Nora was hit in the mask by a foul ball. Crew chief Fieldin Culbreth took over behind the plate and the game continued with three umpires. ... The Phillies are off Monday. Aaron Nola (4-4, 3.84 ERA) will open a series Tuesday night against Atlanta Braves lefty Drew Smyly (2-3, 5.98).