July 07, 2018
It may have taken a little longer — longer than any nine-inning game in team history, in fact — but the Philadelphia Phillies are tied for the NL East thanks to a 17-5 marathon win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. And before you go checking your calendars, yes, it is indeed July.
The Phillies are now 48-37 following Friday night's victory and have won seven of their last eight games, including five straight. Needless to say, things are starting to get interesting down at the ol' ballpark.
And the only people not surprised by the team's impressive turnaround may be manager Gabe Kapler and his players. Will they be buyers at the deadline and look to add some late-season help for a playoff push? Could that help come in the form of Manny Machado? Is Zach Eflin pitching too well to be traded? We've got more on that and some updates on the pitching front in today's edition of What They're Saying about the (first-place) Phillies...
With a relatively easy schedule ahead, there's a legitimate chance the Phillies pass the Braves and head into the MLB All-Star break with sole possession of the division lead. But even before they thumped the Pirates on Friday night, Gabe Kapler expressed his confidence in his players, reminding the gathered media that his team has always had its eyes on competing for (and winning) the NL East.
“The themes right now are we’re in a position to win the National League East and make a run at that,” Kapler said. “If we take care of our business and do various things, we are going to be excited about our prospects come September. Those conversations are ongoing. They're always being had. They’re being had in various forms, but we’re asking people to take part in incubating those discussions.
“In spring training, we talked as a group, the players and our leadership group, and we said we expect to be a postseason club. I believed that then. I believe it now. We do indeed have the athletes, the horses, the leaders, the connectors, the teammates, to be a playoff team.”
With the trade deadline arriving at the end of the month, the front office is looking to upgrade the roster. A bullpen move seems quite possible. Third base is an area the team would like to bolster. And, of course, Manny Machado looms out there. [nbcsports.com]
It appears, however, that the Kapler and the Phillies will be making that run at the NL East crown without the services of Machado as talks between the Phillies and Orioles, who were conveniently in town this week, seem to have cooled.
A few days ago, a report surfaced that the Phils were considered a "long shot" to land Machado, but more recent reports suggest that the odds of the Orioles third baseman winding up in Philly could be even slimmer than that. Part of the reason talks soured may have to do Zach Eflin, who is 6-0 with a 1.91 ERA in his last six starts and, according MLB.com's Jon Morosi, apparently untouchable — at least when it comes to Machado.
Prior to this season, Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin had a career 5.85 ERA in 22 Major League starts. He was sent to Triple-A at the end of this Spring Training and spent all of April in the Minors. If the Orioles had called in April with a one-for-one trade proposal -- Machado for Eflin -- it's reasonable to believe the Phils would have accepted.
Now? The circumstances have changed. Eflin has a 2.97 ERA in 11 Major League starts this year. If Baltimore made the same proposal today -- a half-season of Machado for 4 1/2 of Eflin -- Philadelphia likely would say no, one source told MLB.com.
The Phillies also would be reluctant to part with right-hander Sixto Sanchez -- their No. 1 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com -- in a trade for Machado. It's unclear how the Phils will react if Class A right-hander Adonis Medina, who ranks No. 2 on that list, is the Orioles' formal request in a Machado offer on July 31. [mlb.com]
On Friday, Todd Zolecki, who first reported that the Phillies were "a long shot" to land Machado, confirmed his colleague's report, adding that the Phillies are "unlikely to mortgage the future" for what could ultimately be a two-month rental — and you have to assume that includes top prospect Sixto Sanchez.
Would it make sense for the Phillies to weaken a position of strength to upgrade in another area? Sources have told MLB.com that while the Phillies would love to add Machado for the final two-plus months of the season, they are unlikely to mortgage the future to make it happen.
"I don't think we are where we are today if not for Zach Eflin's performance in the last five weeks," Kapler said. "He's been incredibly valuable for us." [mlb.com]
And in case that wasn't enough, a third MLB.com writer, Mark Feinsand, also reported on Friday that the Phils are moving on from Machado. Why? The asking price was "too high." It'll be interesting to see if any details emerge as to what exactly that price was, but based on Zolecki's and Morosi's reports, it's likely it included Zach Eflin.
Source says Phillies have moved on from Machado for now, as Orioles’ asking price is too high. My colleague @ToddZolecki reported yesterday that the Phillies were “considered longshots” for Machado.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 6, 2018
Maybe that price will drop as the July 31 deadline approaches. Maybe not...
John Town | That Ball's Outta Here
Some rough news for starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff, who suffered a second setback while rehabbing a lat injury that has kept him sidelined since last season.
A setback for Jerad Eickhoff — he again felt tingling in his fingers during his last live BP session in Clearwater. Felt it on fastballs. He’s coming back to Philadelphia to be examined again. #Phillies— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) July 6, 2018
Here's more from John Town over at TBOH:
Eickhoff started the year off on the disabled list with a lat strain that was only supposed to keep him out 6-8 weeks. During a rehab start in May, Eickhoff felt twinges in his fingers and had to be shut down again. Now he will have to stop throwing again, which will only push his return farther back.
This issue traces back to last season as Eickhoff missed the final month of the year with a similar finger injury. With the All-Star Break coming up and the issue still plaguing him, there’s no telling if or when he will return this year. [thatballsouttahere.com]
IronPigs starter Enyel De Los Santos has been selected to represent the Phillies organization in the Futures game next Sunday at Nationals Park (July 15, 4 p.m. on MLB Network).
De Los Santos is 9-3 with a 1.89 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 16 starts for Lehigh Valley. The right-hander, the return from the Padres in the Freddy Galvis trade, has 87 strikeouts, 31 walks, 10 home runs allowed, six hit batters, five balks and a .210 batting average against in 95 1/3 innings.
The 22-year-old has worked at least six innings in 11 of his last 12 starts and allowed more than two earned runs in only two of his 16 outings.
De Los Santos also was selected as the starting pitcher for the Triple-A All-Star Game, which is four days earlier. [mcall.com]
And he may even get a big-league start prior to both those appearances...
The Phillies likely need a starting pitcher either Sunday or Monday. Prospect Enyel De Los Santos is a possibility, Gabe Kapler said.— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) July 6, 2018
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports