- Phillies outfielder Roman Quinn, currently on the injured list recovering from a strained groin, will hit exclusively from the right side when he returns to action, notes Matt Gelb of The Athletic (subscription required). Quinn, a natural righty, began hitting from both sides at the beginning of his professional career per the Phillies’ request, but injuries have stunted his development as a switch-hitter. As a result, he has informed manager Gabe Kapler that he will bat only as a righty, where Quinn has enjoyed considerably stronger platoon splits, upon his return from the injured list.
The Phillies are set to activate utilityman Scott Kingery from the 10-day injured list, Matt Gelb of The Athletic tweets. The club has confirmed Kingery’s activation, adding that it has optioned outfielder Nick Williams to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies have been without Kingery since he landed on the IL on April 19 with a right hamstring strain. Before that, Kingery looked to be establishing himself in the majors after a rough rookie season in 2018. Along with slashing .406/.457/.719 (208 wRC+) with two home runs in 35 big league plate appearances, the versatile Kingery has seen action at shortstop, third base, second base and in left field this year. He’ll add another position on Sunday – center field – Gelb reports.
The Phillies have gotten next to nothing from center fielder Odubel Herrera or third baseman Maikel Franco this year, so Kingery could potentially see plenty of time at those spots as the season progresses. Despite the struggles of those two starters, the Phillies are 26-19 and leading the National League East by a game and a half over the Braves.
Williams, 25, hasn’t played in the minors since 2017, making his trip to Lehigh Valley particularly notable. Since Williams’ midseason promotion to the majors two years ago, the former top 100 prospect has amassed 856 PA and offered roughly league-average offense (.262/.322/.431 with 30 home runs – good for a 101 wRC+). However, Williams has struggled in the outfield, as shown by his minus-30 Defensive Runs Saved and minus-12 Ultimate Zone Rating, thereby limiting him to replacement-level value. He’s also hitting at a career-worst level this year, with a .180/.231/.262 line (33 wRC+), a single homer and 18 strikeouts against two walks in 65 tries.
Because Williams hasn’t quite panned out since the Phillies acquired him from the Rangers as part of a 2015 trade for Cole Hamels, Philly made other corner outfield arrangements this past offseason. They brought in high-priced free agents Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen to take over for Williams and Aaron Altherr, the latter of whom joined the Giants via waivers last weekend after the Phillies designated him for assignment.
In other news involving the Philadelphia relief corps, righty David Robertson has been advised not to throw for at least three more weeks, as Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer was among those to cover on Twitter. The hope is that rest will cure Robertson’s flexor strain, though it remains to be seen how he’ll respond when the time comes. Once he resumes throwing, the veteran will need to ramp up before he’s ready to pitch again in the majors.
Ramos, 26, had a fine showing last year for the Phis. He has not been quite as good out of the gates in 2019, however, having allowed five earned runs on a dozen hits while compiling a 7:4 K/BB ratio over 9 2/3 innings.
There’s some obvious cause for concern in Ramos’s radar-gun readings. He has dropped a full 2 mph on his average four-seamer and even more on his heavily-used slider. Unsurprisingly, his swinging-strike rate has suffered, though Ramos is still drawing loads of soft contact (32.3%).
In the aggregate, there’s quite a lot of uncertainty for a pair of hurlers who were expected to occupy significant roles in 2019. Bullpen issues haven’t kept the club from a strong overall start, and there’s still time for internal solutions to emerge, but the Phillies currently project as a clear buyer of relief pitching at this season’s trade deadline.
- The Giants claimed Aaron Altherr from the Phillies yesterday, though the outfielder has been on San Francisco’s radar for a while. According to NBC Sports.com’s Alex Pavlovic, the Giants first asked the Phils about Altherr two months ago, when Bryce Harper’s arrival created a surplus in the Philadelphia outfield. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy said Altherr’s arrival won’t impact Mac Williamson’s status as the team’s regular left fielder, as Williamson will be given an extended look as an everyday player. Altherr, meanwhile, “be eased in,” Pavlovic writes, both because Altherr hasn’t played much in recent weeks and because Altherr has struggled since the start of the 2018 season.
SUNDAY: Irvin’s officially up in place of Davis, the Phillies announced.
SATURDAY: The Phillies announced that they’ve placed Vince Velasquez on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain. In a corresponding move, the club recalled lefty Austin Davis from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. However, the Phillies will select southpaw Cole Irvin from Triple-A to start in Velasquez’s place Sunday in Kansas City. Irvin will take the last open spot on the Phillies’ 40-man roster.
This is the latest in a long line of arm injuries for Velasquez, who has logged IL time in the past for a biceps strain and a flexor strain, among other problems. Moreover, it’s worth noting a forearm strain sent budding Rays ace Tyler Glasnow to the shelf for four to six weeks on Saturday. Velasquez suggested this isn’t nearly as serious as Glasnow’s injury, though, telling Scott Lauber of Philly.com and other reporters that he only expects to miss one start.
Velasquez, 26, hasn’t turned into the front-line starter the Phillies wanted when they acquired the then-prospect in a 2015 blockbuster with the Astros, though he has generally been a capable rotation piece. But Velasquez did endure back-to-back subpar starts prior to his IL placement, and most of his production this year hasn’t been nearly as encouraging as the 3.99 ERA and 9.2 K/9 he has put up over six starts and 29 1/3 frames. Along with those numbers, Velasquez has notched a horrid 5.81 FIP with 4.6 BB/9 and, compared to 2018, seen his swinging-strike and contact rates go in the wrong direction. He’s also yielding more than two home runs per nine and benefiting from a .250 batting average on balls in play and a 90.1 percent strand rate.
With Velasquez down, the 25-year-old Irvin will make his big league debut three seasons after the Phillies chose him in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. The former Oregon Duck had been enjoying his second straight sub-3.00 ERA season at the Triple-A level before his promotion, though the rest of his numbers have gone backward since 2018. While MLB.com ranks Irvin as the Phillies’ 16th-best prospect, lauding “his ability to use his four-pitch mix well to keep hitters guessing and off-balance,” the outlet adds that he only features one above-average offering (a changeup).
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has the details on Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner’s limited no-trade list, which, per the five-year, $35MM extension (plus 2018 and ’19 option years) he signed prior to the 2013 season, may contain up to eight teams. The four-time all-star may reportedly block trades to the Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Yankees, Phillies, and Cardinals at the upcoming trade deadline.
If the list seems curious for its contender bent, it’s by design: Bumgarner’s reps seem to have carefully selected the teams most apt to pursue the lefty for a pennant push later this season. High-profile players can often negotiate some sort of compensatory bonus if they’re moved to a team on their restricted list at any point during that contract, and the former World Series hero seems no exception.
Atlanta, it seems, is the dead giveaway here – Bumgarner grew up deep in the North Carolina hills, the nether regions of the far-reaching heart of Braves country, and was raised a die-hard Atlanta devotee. He’d surely jump at the opportunity to join a pennant-chasing Braves team, one that will likely have rising stars Mike Soroka and Max Fried on a strict innings limit as the season progresses, though whether the suddenly stingy Atlanta front office will have interest is an altogether different conversation.
As Alex Pavlovic of NBC Bay Area explains, there’s been no indication that Bumgarner will block deals to any of the teams included on his list, though explicit comments from the hurler on the matter are as yet in the dark. SNY’s Andy Martino tweets that the Yankees, Bumgarner’s most-connected suitor, are “not particularly high” on the lefty, an impression that could certainly shift with another couple months’ strong performance, coupled with a continued depletion of the team’s starting staff.
After two injury-riddled seasons, in which Bumgarner’s peripherals slumped considerably, the one-time ace has rekindled some of his mid-decade mojo: his 84 xFIP- and 91.8 average fastball velocity are his best marks in the categories since the 2015 season, and his 11.5% swinging strike rate has jumped to above his career average. He’s again striking out over a batter per nine, and his BB rate has swung back to barely-traceable levels, with the 1.45 mark actually the lowest of his career.
If there’s an area of concern, it’s the ground-ball rate, which has plummeted to a career-low 36.8%, leaving the 10-year vet more vulnerable than ever to the longball. There’s also, of course, his status as a rental: teams are more loath than ever to give up high quality talent for just two-plus months of even a star player, and Bumgarner, even during his heyday, was always closer to third starter than ace.
His postseason reputation precedes – no, surrounds – him, though modern front offices won’t fall prey to the blue ox beside his Paul Bunyan October lore, and are now much more likely to consider the sample in which it was done. Indeed, Bumgarner’s 93 career xFIP- in the postseason – interestingly a mark considerably worse than late-season whipping boy Clayton Kershaw’s 82 figure – is a fact which, if ever relevant at the outset, almost certainly won’t be dismissed in considerations.
There’s also the matter of Giants majority owner Charles Johnson, of whom Bumgarner is said to be a favorite, and an ownership group that’s always willing to shell out for hometown stars of seasons past. The Bumgarner saga may drag on well into the summer, but it’s still a distinct possibility the lefty will stay in San Fran for the long haul.
Phillies chairman David Montgomery died this morning at 72 years of age after a five-year battle with cancer. MLBTR extends its best wishes to his loved ones.
Montgomery was a self-made Philadelphia native who earned his way into the University of Pennsylvania and then worked up the ladder in the Phillies organization. He ultimately bought the club along with Bill Giles in 1981, becoming president in 1997.
Montgomery was forced to the sideline upon the initial diagnosis of cancer of the jaw in August of 2014. But he was able to take on some of his prior duties as president and CEO of the ballclub by early 2015.
In recent years, Montgomery has helped to oversee a leadership transition. John Middleton stepped into a much more visible role as the leader of the ownership group (of which Montgomery was also a part). Andy MacPhail was hired as president in the summer of 2015, taking over fully from Pat Gillick that fall and installing Matt Klentak as GM.
Over his many years in baseball, Montgomery developed a stellar reputation. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times documented his story in 2008. As Jayson Stark of The Athletic puts it, “baseball has never had a classier, more dignified, more respected, more upbeat ambassador.”
Altherr, 28, has shown promise since his 2015 debut, most notably slugging .516 en route to a stellar 121 wRC+ across 418 plate appearances in 2017, but has too often been dogged been inconsistency and a climbing strikeout rate. In 285 PAs for the club last season, Altherr slashed a meager .181/.295/.333 (75 wRC+) and didn’t bring much back on defense, where a -2.6 UZR in 427 right-field innings resulted in an ugly -0.4 fWAR.
Though he accrued just 30 plate appearances in his short time with the Phillies this season, the trajectory wasn’t encouraging: Altherr had already managed to worsen his hideous fWAR mark from the season prior, and hadn’t showed even a glimpse of the career-best plate discipline he’d flashed in ’18.
This’ll likely be the end of the line for Altherr in Philadelphia – 28-year-olds with the ability to play center field and multiple 120 wRC+ or better seasons (albeit in limited action) under their belt aren’t often designated, and he’d seem to represent a clear outfield upgrade for at least a handful of teams. The Indians, with a league-worst 69 wRC+ and a cast of scattered disappointments in the outfield, may already be hot on the trail.
Pazos was designated for assignment recently by the Phils. He’ll head onto the Colorado 40-man roster but does not have to be added to the active roster.
Soon to turn 28, Pazos landed with the Phils in the Jean Segura swap this past offseason. Things didn’t turn out as hoped in Philadelphia, leading to a surprisingly quick DFA. He failed to win a big-league pen job after a rough camp and has continued to struggle at Triple-A to open the season.
That showing came after some curious developments last year. Pazos had previously sported 96 mph heat and a good slider, but saw the fastball velo dip even as he went to that pitch almost exclusively last year. His swinging-strike rate fell by nearly 25%.
Despite the recent issues, it’s easy to see why the Rockies decided to roll the dice. Pazos carries a 3.54 ERA through 112 MLB frames, with 9.3 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 and a 47.8% groundball rate. He has been effective against both lefties and righties. And he’s optionable, which creates some additional flexibility.
On the other side of this swap is the 22-year-old Stovall. He was a 21st-round draft pick last year but has performed well thus far as a professional. After hitting ten home runs in 199 plate appearances at the Rookie ball level last year, he’s off to a .281/.414/.439 slash with as many walks as strikeouts (a dozen apiece) in seventy Class A plate appearances. Whether he can combine the power and patience remains to be seen.
The Phillies will be without fleet-footed outfielder Roman Quinn for “at least several weeks” after an MRI revealed a Grade 2 groin strain, manager Gabe Kapler told reporters Thursday (link via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia). He’s joined Odubel Herrera on the injured list, leaving the Phillies without their top two options in center field.
With Quinn and Herrera on the shelf, Aaron Altherr becomes Philadelphia’s top option in center field. It wasn’t long ago that the out-of-options Altherr looked like a potential roster casualty, but the Phils are now short on alternative options to man center field. Journeymen Lane Adams and Shane Robinson are currently on the roster in Triple-A; former first-rounders Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley are in Double-A but lack experience and success in the upper minors.
Injuries have begun to pile up in Philadelphia, where they’ve not only lost their top two center fielders but their top two options at shortstop. Both Jean Segura and Scott Kingery are on the injured list with the same injury as Herrera (a strained hamstring), which forced the Phils to select the contract of veteran utilityman Sean Rodriguez earlier this week. He’s currently paired up with fellow veteran bench bat Phil Gosselin in being tasked with shortstop duties for the banged-up Philadelphia club.
For the time being, Quinn’s injury prevents the Phillies from having to make a determination on how to proceed with an outfield mix that has more bodies than available at-bats when at full strength. A healthy Phillies outfield would feature Andrew McCutchen in left, Herrera in center and Bryce Harper in right field, with Quinn, Altherr and Nick Williams on hand as reserve options. Of the reserve trio, only Quinn and Altherr are viable options in center field, but both players are also out of minor league options, which would seemingly present the Phillies with a 40-man roster call to make. That, however, won’t be the case unless the Phils can get all of their outfielders healthy at the same time.
For now, the Phils will apparently hope that Altherr can bounce back from an awful start at the plate. He has just one hit and one walk through his first 27 trips to the plate — a dismal beginning to what he hoped could be a rebound campaign following a .181/.295/.333 slash in 285 plate appearances last season. Recent struggles aside, Altherr isn’t that far removed from a terrific .272/.340/.516 batting line and 19 home runs back in 2017.