Phillies Mailbag: Pivetta, Cozens, Herrera’s Streak
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Send your questions to the 97.3 ESPN text board at 609-403-0973 or send them to @FrankKlose on Twitter. Each week on Tuesday afternoon we answer your questions on the air during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.
Can Nick Pivetta keep this pace up for a full season?
When Ruben Amaro, Jr. traded closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals, the Phillies were looking to unload their embattled closer before another year and another $12 million vested onto his contract. Despite being very motivated to eliminate Papelbon's salary from the Phillies in 2016, the Phillies got Nick Pivetta in return in the deal. He became their number 10 prospect and last season made the major leagues.
The Phillies thought from the start that they had something. At the time, Amaro told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that they saw him as high as a number three starter:
"Our projections are a middle to the bottom of the rotation type of pitcher. Could be as high as a three. Could be as low as a five. A lot of it depends on how he develops. He's got great stuff to work with, and I like the way our development people are working with our pitching."
Papelbon, meanwhile, never made it out of 2016 with the Nationals, with a Bryce Harper choke hold along the way.
Right now Pivetta is pitching like the number three starter Amaro hoped for at the high end, and with a 4-2 record and 3.23 earned run average. And looking even beyond the start of this season, there were signs of this even last season. Zolecki noted this Spring Training how Pivetta's fastball and curveball developed significantly the second half of the season.
So this is not just a short-term success; it really extends through the second half of last season. Watching him last night against a talented Braves offense, Pivetta showed great poise in going after the Atlanta Braves team the Phillies were behind in the standings. He shows no sign of slowing down.
Ideally, the Phillies will acquire a left-handed starter who can slot between Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, and Pivetta will be one of the better number four starters in the league.
What is going to happen for Dylan Cozens? Do you think he will ever get the call?
I do think that outfield prospect Dylan Cozens will get a call to the major leagues. However, I do not think that he particularly warrants a promotion at this time, and I think at this moment Cozens has not shown that he is a major league player. But Cozens is going to have the opportunity by virtue of his roster spot.
The Phillies added Cozens to the 40-man roster in late 2016 ahead of the Rule 5 draft. Cozens did not make the Phillies in 2017, which represented his first option year, and 2018 is his second, with Cozens headed to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after Spring Training. The only other outfielder currently on the 40-man roster is Roman Quinn, who is now going under the knife to repair an injury to his hand, and will miss 6-8 weeks.
All Phillies infielders on the 40-man roster are either in the major leagues or on the disabled list.
That means, should the Phillies incur an injury and need a position player, Cozens will have to be the one who gets the call, unless the club cuts another player from the 40-man roster. This is why I think it is likely Cozens ends up getting to the major leagues.
But the play from Cozens at Triple-A is worrisome. In 137 at bats, Cozens has struck out a remarkable 62 times. The seven home runs Cozens has do not make up for his strikeouts and .232 batting average. That is why if the Phillies need to add someone at another position, Cozens might even be outrighted off of the roster.
Last week we saw both Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp get a bit nicked up behind the plate. Luckily they have not had to put either player on the disabled list. If they had to add another catcher from Triple-A, they would need a 40-man roster spot. That might put Cozens' roster spot at risk.
If that happens, it would be much more difficult for Cozens to get the opportunity.
So in short, Cozens is the next man up if there is an injury for now, but the longer it takes for Cozens to get things going at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the less likely it is that he will see a promotion.
Why did Odubel Herrera's on base streak end when he was on base?
Very interestingly, when Sunday's game ended, Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera was standing on first base. Yet, his "on base streak" ended. The reason why is a matter of semantics.
When they refer to a player "reaching base" it is actually defined as those occasions in which a player has a hit, is hit by a pitch, or walks. That number is divided by the total number of plate appearances in determining an on base percentage. Only those three scenarios are calculated as part of the on base percentage.
Items that specifically do not count towards the on-base percentage: a fielding error, a fielder's choice, a dropped third strike by the catcher, catcher's interference or a safe call due to a fielder's interference. So had Herrera been on the base paths as a result of any of these scenarios, they would not have counted.
Luckily, the Phillies have a good sense of humor;