Phillies Mailbag: Hoskins, Pitching, Nickname Jerseys
We are back again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. We take your questions each week and answer them on 973espn.com and discuss them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill each Tuesday at 2:30. Send your questions to @FrankKlose on Twitter.
If Rhys Hoskins doesn't hit well, does he go back down when Aaron Altherr returns or think he's up for good?
Phillies first baseman and left fielder Rhys Hoskins got off to a little bit of a tough start, going one for his first 13. Hoskins took a few games to get his first major league hit, and once he did his expression of relief was very evident to all in the ballpark. Perhaps Hoskins completely snapped out of it Monday night with a two-homer performance in San Diego.
First, I think it is important to recognize that Hoskins is going to have a decent window to be the team's left fielder. The Phillies started him at first base on Sunday perhaps to help loosen him up by putting him in familiar territory, But left field will belong to Hoskins at least until September, or as the Phillies put a timeline on Altherr: "sometime in September". That likely means he will be in Philadelphia to stay, as the Triple-A season will end earlier.
The Phillies have already shown that they are not worried about using Hoskins at first base. In fact, the presence of Hoskins in a way puts incumbent first baseman Tommy Joseph on notice: he has the length of Altherr's disabled list stay to show that he belongs in the Phillies lineup each and every day.
Once Altherr is back I think the Philllies will mix and match their spots, giving lefty Nick Williams a day off against a tough lefty pitcher, or give Odubel Herrera, Joseph, and Hoskins their days off and still have a solid lineup. No matter what, I think Hoskins is with the Phillies to stay.
The pitching. Which young starters are going to be okay? Does the relief corp need a complete overhaul? Not sold on the pitching.
The 2017 season was a season in which the Phillies hoped to get some permanent answers with many positions, but most definitely the starting pitching. This was the season that the likes of Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta cracked the big leagues for the first time, and the Phillies really needed some answers on Zach Eflin or Jake Thompson. This was to be the year to inform the Phillies about the future of Vince Velasquez.
First and foremost, I think that the Phillies have learned that Aaron Nola is becoming one of the elite pitchers in the game. He has far surpassed projections for his career, and has really impressed considering that he was drafted just three years ago. The Phillies probably will look to pair him with an established, yet controllable starter. Keep pitchers such as Chris Archer in mind. I think it is clear the Phillies need to complement Nola wish someone of the sort.
I still have high hopes for Jerad Eickhoff. Though last night's start was only five innings (I would have at least started him in the sixth), Eickhoff has a stretch of five starts in which he has allowed three or fewer runs. Coming back from his injury still, I think there are signs he can be a solid major league starter and I would definitely have no qualms if the Phillies placed him third behind Nola and a newly-acquired piece.
Then it gets tricky.
The Phillies are going to have to take some of the aforementioned starters and build them into relievers. I see some talent in the likes of Pivetta and Ricardo Pinto. They both need work, but I think both could be serviceable relievers. Thompson is just 23 years old and I could see him get another season to get things together.
I do not think Hector Neris is the long-term Phillies closer. His 3.00 earned run average looks decent, but Neris has overwhelmingly pitched worse in the ninth inning. I think the Phillies are content with him holding the fort down for now and will make a more permanent decision in the offseason.
Velasquez remains a head scratcher. We see the immense talent but also that he has not yet put things together. The Phillies need to make a final decision on his future, likely this offseason. The club could decide that he could get a chance to be Phillies closer, or maybe he is a player that is traded in an Archer-type trade and another club figures it out.
Which of the personalized jerseys for Players Weekend is your favorite?
For me, definitely Aaron Nola's. His chosen nickname is N-O-L-A. That means he is representing his hometown, New Orleans, LA.
More seriously, my favorites was that of Aaron Altherr. He picked the name "A-A-RON". This is a reference to a comedy bit from Comedy Central's Key & Peele show in which a substitute teacher comes in and butchers everyone's names. The teacher struggles with names like "Blake", "Denise", and of course, "Aaron".
You can watch the bit here, if you have yet to see it!