August 10, 2016
In the span of one week, three of the five pitchers in the Phillies rotation went down.
Aaron Nola was placed on the disabled list a week ago with a right elbow sprain. Rookie Zach Eflin joined him on the DL on Tuesday, with tendinitis in both of his knees. It’s uncertain if either pitcher will return this season.
So it was at least mildly concerning when Jeremy Hellickson, taking the mound on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium to help the Phillies avoid a sweep, pitched five sharp innings in Chavez Ravine before needing to be escorted through the tunnel and into the trainer’s room.
The team announced that Hellickson, the lone veteran in the rotation, had been removed from the game with back tightness.
In addition to trying to figure who the heck will be taking the mound for the team when they return home following Thursday’s off day in the schedule – no pitchers were listed in the team’s daily pregame notes on Wednesday – the Phillies entered the sixth inning without Hellickson and in one of their usual offensive funks. They had four hits in the game’s first five innings as Scott Kazmir was flirting without a shutout.
And then, an inning later, Freddy Galvis saved them.
No, Galvis will not be jumping into a vacancy in the rotation. Instead, he helped the Phillies escape L.A. without getting swept when he socked a three-run home run off Grant Dayton with one out in the seventh inning as the visiting team collected a 6-2 win over the Dodgers.
The win was just the second for the Phillies in their last five games, yet they managed to finish their West Coast trip at 3-3. The home run was Galvis’s 11th of the season.
But it was the first home run Galvis, a switch hitter, has hit from the right side in 2016. Prior to Wednesday, Galvis’s last right-handed home run came on Aug. 26, 2014.
In addition to his clutch hit, Galvis made a slick sliding stop and throw with to first with two on and two out in the eighth to help Hector Neris escape a volatile inning with a one-run lead intact.
Before Ryan Howard cleared the bases with a double in the top of the ninth inning off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen (after Galvis was intentionally walked), each of the Phillies' previous seven runs have come off home runs.
• It’s uncertain if Hellickson’s back ailment is one that will lead him to missing a start. But even with the recent glut of injuries, the Phillies should be able to make due without having to shake up their roster too much. They have two pitchers on their 40-man roster with MLB experience who could conceivably jump into the spot vacated by Eflin (and Hellickson, if that’s necessary).
David Buchanan (8-6, 3.83 ERA) was scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday night for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Buchanan has a 1.42 ERA in his last five starts and threw a complete game in his most recent outing.
Adam Morgan, who has made 12 starts for the Phillies this season, is tentatively scheduled to start on Friday night in Allentown. Morgan is 6-1 with a 3.04 ERA in eight games (seven starts) with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season.
• Ryan Howard’s pinch-hit three-run double would have been shocking had it happened three months ago. But Howard has actually responded quite well offensively since being relegated to part-time duty.
Since June 22, roughly two weeks after Tommy Joseph supplanted him as the Phillies everyday first baseman, Howard is hitting .300 with six home runs and five doubles in his last 26 games. Howard entered Wednesday with a .937 OPS during that seven-week stretch.
• Tuesday was an impressive day for Phillies minor league pitchers: three right-handers reached double digits in strikeouts. Phil Klein (Triple-A) struck out 10 in a 3-2 loss to Scranton. Tom Eshelman (Double-A Reading) struck out 11 in six innings of an 8-2 win at Binghamton. Franklyn Kilome (Low-A Lakewood) also struck out 11 in six innings of a 3-1 win at Delmarva.
Kilome, 21, was ranked the 6th best prospect in the Phillies system by Baseball America last month.