28-year-old righty Jerad Eickhoff gave the Phillies a feel-good story yesterday by tying a club record during his first MLB start in 13 months, as Joe Bloss details in a piece for MLB.com. Eickhoff managed to strike out seven consecutive Braves (eight overall) before allowing a homer to Johan Camargo and a single to Ozzie Albies, prompting an early hook by manager Gabe Kapler. Though Eickhoff was only allowed to throw 54 pitches, he recorded eight of his ten outs via the strikeout and didn’t walk a batter.
It stands to reason that a strong 2019 spring performance on the part of Eickhoff could have him back in the conversation for a rotation spot next year, though he’s likely to face some stiff competition. A rotation featuring Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin has done well in 2018, and each has accumulated at least 2.0 fWAR to date. That’s to say nothing of any potential offseason rotation additions, which the Phillies could certainly afford to purchase given their massive budget and relatively low 2019 payroll commitments. Still, Eickhoff made an intriguing opening statement to support his case last night.
More off the coast of the Atlantic…
- Speaking of the Phillies and their big winter budget, Scott Lauber opens an article for Philly.com by bluntly stating that John Middleton is “ready to make it rain.” With less than $70MM in salary commitments for the 2019 season, Lauber echoes the oft-heard sentiments that Philadelphia is firmly in the mix to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado (if not both). With that in mind, he embarked on a quest to discover who a panel of experts would prefer to sign. The criteria mentioned in Lauber’s excellent journalistic endeavor operates upon a slew of criteria including pure talent, durability/longevity and organizational fit.
- Alex Speier of the Boston Globe recently wrote about how manager Alex Cora has changed the organizational culture of the Red Sox in regards to analytics. According to Speier, some front offices last year weren’t on the lookout for authority figures to serve as their club’s skippers as the were trying to identify someone who could “serve as a conduit for data-driven analysis”. Cora’s been able to do just that, as evidenced in a recent defensive shift detailed in Speier’s piece, though that’s far from the only example. “He’s kind of reformed the culture of how we’re going to integrate data into decision-making,” assistant GM Eddie Romero said of the rookie manager.
- The Mets have elected to shut down right-handers Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman for the season, per a report from Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. The decision comes as a result of workload concerns, as the two relievers have combined for 181 1/3 innings on the season. Mickey Callaway offered his thoughts on the subject. “”We feel that those guys have had outstanding years,” he explained. “They both finished with a save, on a strong note. They’ve probably done more than we could have ever asked to this point. And we felt these last three games, we’re going to give these younger guys a shot to go out there and nail down the games for us. We feel this is taking care of them heading into the offseason, so they can come back and be even better next year.”