Phillies Nation TV, Episode 4: Opening Week, Aaron Nola

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, April 14, 2015 05:21 PM Comments: 0

In our latest Phillies Nation TV (presented by BQ Basement Systems), here’s what you’ll see:

-Pat Gallen & Corey Seidman discuss the Phillies opening week, with the good and the bad.

-Rachel Micali joins with some trending topics and a great fan question about Ryan Howard.

-The guys have their Fantasy Draft picks, presented by Draft Kings. Corey and Pat are helping to make you straight cash if you’re listening!

-Jay Floyd has a one-on-one with top pitching prospect Aaron Nola.


Gameday 8: Mets vs Phillies

Posted by Matthew Gephart, Tue, April 14, 2015 03:24 PM Comments: 47

Philadelphia Phillies (3-4) at New York Mets (4-3)

phillies                         other

Starting Pitchers:
PHI: David Buchanan
NYM: Matt Harvey

Time: 7:10 EST, Citi Field
Weather: Cloudy, 50 degrees
Media: Twitter and Facebook

A Note for Tonight:

David Buchanan will get the start today and try to stop the losing streak the Phillies are about to devolve into.  David only made it to the 3rd inning on his first outing for the year and will hope to get back to Spring Training form, where he pitched with a 1.29 ERA over six games.  The offense was shut out for the second time of the season yesterday, so here’s to getting the runs going again.  Freddy Galvis will look to continue his positive contributions, hitting 3 for 3 yesterday and batting .400 for the season.

After vowing to ‘turn it around’, Ryan Howard ended up going 1 for 4 with a lucky single that bounced off the bag.  Chase Utley is yet to have a hit in the series and hopes to turn the season around abruptly after batting .091 through the first 7 games.


Herrera CF / Galvis SS / Utley 2B / Howard 1B / Ruiz C / Asche 3B / Sizemore RF / Revere LF / Buchanan P


In A Desperate Attempt The Phillies Turn To Groupon

Posted by Pat Egan, Tue, April 14, 2015 01:39 PM Comments: 8

(Photo Credit to David Gryzbowski's Twitter Account)

(Photo Credit to David Gryzbowski’s Twitter Account)

It seems like just yesterday Citizens Bank Park was the place to be. Tickets to every game could only be obtained on the secondary market and the Phillies were enjoying a boom at the box office like never before. Oh how the times have changed.

The Phillies, desperate for people to attend games, have turned to the deal-of-the-day website Groupon to try and get some customers back. For the low (or maybe high depending on who you talk to) price of $8.50 you can take in a Phillies game on either May 8, May 13th, or May 16th. The Phillies take on the Mets on May 8, Pittsburgh on the 13th, and Arizona on the 16th.

Our own Natalie Egenolf had a great point on her twitter account, pointing out this move is the modern day tickets in the hot dog wrapper.

If you do want to take advantage of this great (?) opportunity you better hurry! The deal ends in a little over 10 hours.


No Power, No Runs, No Support

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Tue, April 14, 2015 12:28 PM Comments: 4

Pitchers who have pitched for the Phillies in recent years have fallen victim to poor run support. That trend has continued through seven games in 2015.

Yesterday’s 2-0 loss to the Mets marked the second time the Phillies have been shut out. The first came on opening day when the Phillies lost 8-0 to the Red Sox. The pitching all around was poor that game, as the combination of Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman gave up five home runs, including a grand slam off the bat of Hanley Ramirez. The pitching did not earn the offense’s support, but the Phillies looked helpless at the plate against Clay Buchholz, regardless.

In yesterday’s game, the pitching earned the offense’s support, but the Phillies’ bats were unable to hold up its end of the bargain. It could have been a more humiliating 1-0 loss, but Chase Utley committed an error on a double play ball which led to the second run scoring via sacrifice fly.

There will be a lot games like yesterday’s this season, and as a fanbase, we’ve come to accept that. The Phillies’ pitchers have likely arrived at the same frustrating conclusion. Through seven games, the Phillies rank dead last in run support average at .57. The Yankees lead MLB at 2.00.

There are plenty of reasons why the Phillies have struggled offensively. For one thing, the long ball has been non-existent through seven games, as the Phillies rank 29th in MLB with only two thanks to Jeff Francoeur and Darin Ruf. Dodger first baseman Adrian Gonzalez bested the Phillies in one game last week when he hit three home runs against the Padres.

(Eric Hartline/ USA Today Sports)  Via Philly.com

(Eric Hartline/ USA Today Sports) Via Philly.com

The lack of power is directly related to the struggles of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who are the only true power threats for the Phillies besides Darin Ruf. Both have struggled mightily early on, with Howard batting .161 with a .292 slugging percentage, and Utley batting .091 with a .091 slugging percentage. Utley’s struggles likely won’t last, as the second baseman’s short, compact swing will help him break the slump. For Howard, breaking the slump will not be so easy, and if he is unable to get on track, there won’t be many Harry Kalas “That ball is outta heres” echoing through Citizens Bank Park this season.

Extra base hits in general have been hard to come by early on for the Phillies. The team ranks 29th in MLB with only 10, which is a result of their difficulty hitting fly balls. Through seven games, the Phillies rank 25th in MLB with 89 fly balls. Ground balls have been easier to come by, as the Phillies rank 9th in MLB with 97 ground balls, albeit most of the ground balls that have resulted in hits have been singles.

The Phillies knew that they would have to be a “small ball” type of team in 2015, but despite this notion, they have failed to execute basic fundamentals in key spots. In yesterday’s game for example, Aaron Harang botched a bunt which failed to move up runners on first and second. The Phillies struggled in the same situation in last Saturday night’s game against the Nationals not once, but twice.

Even when the Phillies have had runners in scoring position, they have been unable to get the key hit. In 47 at-bats with RISP, the Phillies have a .170 batting average, which ranks 28th in MLB.

If the Phillies intend on scoring runs this season, they’ll have to do the little things and execute basic fundamentals on a daily basis. If they don’t, runs will be a rarity, much to the dismay of Phillies pitchers.


Aaron Harang Off To Good Start

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, April 14, 2015 10:52 AM Comments: 0

It’s only two games, but Phillies righthander Aaron Harang has been a pleasant surprise for the club this year. He’s 1-1 with a 0.73 ERA–or, just one earned run over 12.1 innings pitched. That’s 7th in the NL. He throws first pitch strikes about 70% of the time, which is good for 6th in the NL.

He had a similar start with the Braves last season, allowing just three earned runs in his first 31.2 innings pitched–a 0.85 ERA. However, this is not something that’s common for Harang. Over his career, he has a 4.25 ERA in the months of March and April, which is slightly above his career ERA.

So what makes this season different? Well, in a word, he’s benefited from a bit of luck. He’s currently allowing just a .176 average on balls in play–sixth-lowest in the NL. He also surrenders the most fly balls in the NL, but has yet to give up a home run. His first five starts with the Braves last year were very similar: low ERA with a low BABIP, a high fly ball percentage, and no home runs.

His velocity is about one MPH lower than it was through five starts last year–88-89 this year, 89-90 in 2014. But it’s still just about his career average. One thing that is different is that he’s been throwing a cutter a lot more. He throws it 16.2% of the time in 2015, but only 2.0% over his career. He’s also throwing more strikes (55.2% in the zone according to FanGraphs) and more strikes that don’t induce swings (in-the-zone swings down a whole 10%). As a result, he’s striking out more batters than usual and walking less.

It would be foolish to think he’ll keep up this pace, but if he can repeat what he did for the Braves last year–which was a 3.57 ERA in 33 starts and 204.1 innings–it would be more than enough for a Phillies team desperate for quality starting pitching.


Harang Solid Again, But Offense Kept Quiet

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Mon, April 13, 2015 05:08 PM Comments: 5

Aaron Harang was solid yet again in his second start in a Phillies uniform, pitching six innings of one-run ball against the Mets. While solid on the mound, Harang was unable to help his cause at the plate when he botched a bunt with runners on first and second, which allowed Met’s starting pitcher Jacob deGram to get the lead out at third. Ben Revere appropriately followed with a fly ball to center field, which would’ve likely tied the game at one.

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley’s struggles at the plate continued, as they went 1 for 7 with one walk on the day. Howard had a fluke single that ricocheted off the first base bag, and hit a ball to left field that would’ve resulted in a two-run home run at Citizens Bank Park. Other than that, the veteran three and four hitters for the Phillies continue to struggle. Ben Revere also continued to struggle at the plate, and left five runners on base in his four at-bats.

The bright spots for the offense were Cody Asche and Freddy Galvis, who continued their hot hitting from the bottom of the order, going 5 for 7.

Jeanmer Gomez was solid in relief of Harang, pitching two innings and giving up one earned run, which was the result of an error by Utley on a dead double play ball.

In other news, a rowdy Mets fan decided it would be acceptable to toss beer on Grady Sizemore as he fielded a ball in right field.

This may bring flashbacks back to when Shane Victorino was the victim of a similar act of disrespect at Wrigley Field back in 2009.  There’s a fine line between verbal abuse and physical abuse. As a fan, heckling a player is nothing new. Every fan base does it. However, physically tossing a beer on a player is not only idiotic, it’s dangerous and disrespectful. Keeping that in mind, an action such as this should not reflect on the fan base as a whole. It is solely the individual committing the act that is responsible. If people decide to reward the individual with applause after the fact, then shame on them as well. We may hate the Mets and their fans as Phillies fans, but don’t let the actions of an individual speak for the masses.


The Phillies and Mets resume their series tomorrow at 7:10, as David Buchanan duels Matt Harvey.


Gameday 7: Mets vs Phillies

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Mon, April 13, 2015 02:20 PM Comments: 2


Philadelphia Phillies (3-3) at New York Mets (3-3)

Starting Pitchers:
PHI: Aaron Harang
NYM: Jacob deGrom

Time: 1:10, Citi Field
TV: NBC 10
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 70
Media: Twitter and Facebook

A Note for Tonight:

Aaron Harang will try to start 2015 2-0, and the Phillies will try to get back over the .500 mark in their first game on the road. Can the Phillies win back-to-back series against division foes?

Also, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will look to get on track at the plate, as both have had success at Citi Field.


Revere LF / Herrera CF / Utley 2B / Howard 1B / Ruiz C / Sizemore RF / Asche 3B / Galvis SS / Harang P


Garcia – Mastery or Magic?

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, April 13, 2015 11:30 AM Comments: 6

The word “master” has always intrigued me. Master is defined as “a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation, art, or science.” To me, it has always been associated with music, as there were two records I saw frequently as a child that had the word “master” in them.

First, there was the oddly-named Van Morrison compilation Bang Masters, which featured remixed and re-released versions of several tracks of Morrisons’ that he did not own (side note: if you are not familiar with the odyssey that is Morrison not owning Brown Eyed Girl, it is worth going down that rabbit hole for a while.) Secondly, there was Cat Stevens’ second LP, New Masters, which has the cheerful tune Ceylon City but also The First Cut is the Deepest, a song Stevens sold for 30 pounds and later became a number one hit in the UK for Rod Stewart and in the US for Cheryl Crow.

The common thread, other than the odd coincidence that both future superstar artists lost out on gobs more potential income by selling their early material too soon, was the attachment of the word master before they established themselves with visible potential. Luis Garcia of the Phillies has appeared to be masterful early in the season, pitching four innings with three strikeouts while allowing just one hit and two walks. But is this something we can expect Garcia to continue throughout the season?

While it is very early in the season, Garcia has established improved peripherals while maintaining the gains in velocity he made last season. Take, for instance, his O-Zone rating or the percentage of time opposing hitters have swung at pitches outside the strike zone. Garcia has opposing hitters chasing those pitches 37.1% of the time, up from a career MLB average of 30% while catching opposing hitters looking at 56% of his pitches in the strike zone, up from 40.6%.

Overall, hitters are connecting with Garcia’s pitches at a 70.8% rate this year, down from a career MLB average of 73.1%. For reference, the top 15 among relievers for that category over the last five years, including number one Aroldis Chapman at 63.1%, fall between 63.1% and 70%. And generally, that’s a group you want to be a member of; in addition to Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland, Kenley Jansen, Koji Uehara, and Sergio Romo fill in that list. It sounds obvious but if Garcia continues to improve his swing/miss rate, he will find himself in really good company.

So, what’s the verdict? Is Garcia’s clean slate through four appearances magic or mastery? Well, in the cases of Morrison and Stevens, the “master” title was handed out a bit premature but became accurate. Garcia, now 28 years old, went from barber to Major League pitcher in 2013 and has improved in each season at the Triple-A level. I’m not ready to say he’s a master, but he’s on his way to being an above-average bullpen arm for the Phillies. If those peripherals either hold or improve through the year, then we may know for sure.


BlueClaws Quotables: Viza, Oliver, Hoskins excited for new season

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, April 13, 2015 07:30 AM Comments: 0

The Lakewood BlueClaws returned to action over the weekend, going 2-2 against division rival Kannapolis to start their 2015 campaign. Recently, I spoke with several of the team’s players about the start of a new year.  Read ahead for what righty pitchers Tyler Viza (32nd round pick, 2013) and Chris Oliver (4th round pick, 2014) as well as first baseman Rhys Hoskins (5th round, 2014) had to say about a brand new year in the Phillies organization.

Tyler Viza 4

Tyler Viza, image- Jay Floyd

-Viza, who pitched with Lakewood last year, posting a 3-17 record, spoke about his outlook returning to the BlueClaws…

I’m extremely excited. We’ve got a great group of guys, got a great coaching staff. I’m happy to be here, to play with these guys and play for these fans again. I’m really excited to be here. Last year’s behind me and I’m ready to push forward this year.

-Viza commented on having former Phillies hurler Aaron Fultz as his pitching coach and what advantages he has with Fultz guiding his career…

I had Fultz in the instructional league. He’s a great guy, awesome! I love having him as my pitching coach.

Yeah, you know it’s kind of nice, you get to pick their brains a little bit about what works and what sort of things didn’t work. Maybe what worked for him isn’t going to work for us and vice versa, but it’s awesome to have that experience at our disposal and to know what works. Continue reading BlueClaws Quotables: Viza, Oliver, Hoskins excited for new season


Phils Miss Out On Sweep, Drop Series Finale To Nats

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sun, April 12, 2015 05:04 PM Comments: 10

The Phillies and Nationals needed extra innings to decide the winner for the second time in two days. This time, however, the Nats got the best of them, 4-3.

They came into Sunday’s game with low expectations for a series sweep. They were set to face the Nats’ ace in Max Scherzer, while sending career minor-leaguer Sean O’Sullivan to the mound. However, O’Sullivan nearly matched Scherzer in effectiveness. They both threw six innings, with Scherzer giving up one run, and O’Sullivan giving up two. Scherzer’s complete line was 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 102 pitches. O’Sullivan’s was 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 91 pitches.

With the Phils down 2-1 in the seventh, Darin Ruf tied the game with his first home run of the year. But in the tenth inning, a Justin De Fratus wild pitch (which could’ve just as easily been charged to Cameron Rupp), allowed Yunel Escobar to score from third and take the lead. The run was charged to Jake Diekman, who took the loss. They would also score another run in the inning, which would prove to be the deciding factor, as the Phils scored one in the bottom of the tenth.

Ryan Howard had a day he’d like to forget. He struck out four times, all of which were inning-ending and with men on base. He left four RISP, and six total. I’d say it was among his worst 20 or so games.

Although he got the loss, Jake Diekman looked very good. A good sign after his disastrous season debut.

The Phillies head up to New York for the Mets home opener at Citi Field tomorrow at 1:10 PM EST. Jacob deGrom and Aaron Harang will be the starting pitchers.


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