Phillies Mailbag: “Rainout”, Irvin and the N.L. East
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.
WWat’s more embarrassing: giving up 20+ runs to the Mets or canceling a game because your grounds crew couldn’t put tarp on the field correctly?
I definitely understand the frustration of Phillies fans. Many of them bundled up in their warmest Phillies gear and made the trek to Citizens Bank Park. They paid for parking, bought a cheese steak and a beer and sat down in their seats expecting a ballgame. But they never got the chance.
The reason the field was unplayable was not that the team did not expect rain. It was that they did not expect that much rain. It is a dirt and grass field (and thankfully not Astroturf) which means that the field needs rain.
So since the Phillies were in New York, a normal amount of rain would be good for the field. However, the rain total was 3.6 inches, according to Tom McCarthy on the Phillies broadcast. That was too much for the grounds crew who worked literally all day long up until the last minute to try to get the field right.
Despite the crew employing blow torches and Bryce Harper picking up a rake, they were not able to get it done. Unfortunately, the decision to postpone was a last-minute decision and fans were left a little stunned. It is the first time there has been a "rainout" with no active rain falling in my recent memory.
But it happens. I once went to a Trenton Thunder game on a nice sunny day, only to find out that the game was "rained out". The field did not drain. It happens. At least with this double header there are plenty of players. And Pat McCarthy of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs broadcast and media staff told me that the Phillies might even add a few more arms from the IronPigs squad when the Phillies head home.
Why not bring up Cole Irvin to help with this starting rotation?
Cole Irvin is a lefty starter who had a tremendous season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. Going 14-4 with a 2.57 earned run average, Irvin led the league in both categories. He struck out 131 to be near the top in the strikeout category, too. The strong performance earned him International League Pitcher of the Year honors.
But there is reason for a promotion and reason against a promotion.
The reason for a promotion: the Phillies starters seem to be limping down the stretch. In particular, Zach Eflin looks like he could use a break. Maybe Irvin could be someone who gives it to him, with Jerad Eickhoff still mostly on the mend and finally getting back on a mound.
One reason against it: roster considerations. Irvin is not currently on the Phillies 40-man roster. The Phillies would have to cut someone in order for them to add Irvin. The only names not in Philadelphia on the roster right now are Drew Anderson, Enyel De Los Santos and Ranger Suarez. Of the three, Anderson is the weakest link, but even he might get a shot in the Phillies bullpen this year.
The one opportunity might be with Aaron Loup's injury. There is no news about his return to the Phillies, and the club could move him to the 60-day disabled list. That would open up one spot. If the Phillies think Loup might return, they could hold off.
The Phillies did not announce any moves ahead of yesterday's rainout, so they may have none to make.
Will the Phils recover and win the division or is it too late to save the season?
While it's easy to point out that the Phillies are still mathematically in the race, it is getting very late. A few weeks ago when the Phillies dipped a few games behind the Atlanta Braves I pointed to a key stretch: September 3-9.
That stretch ended and the Braves went 3-4. Had the Phillies played well against the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, they would have picked up some games. Instead, the Phillies found themselves on the morning of September 10 down 4.5 games.
While the Phillies were idle last night due to the "rainout", the Braves picked up another half-game and lead by five full games.
What is different now is that the Braves are starting to make late rallies to win. The Diamondbacks four-game series showed that the Braves have a shaky bullpen. Last night's 4-1 victory against the San Francisco Giants included three late runs, too.
So the Braves are starting to surge and the Phillies are still floundering. Even if the Phillies play well in that final stretch in which they play seven out of the final 11 games together, they would have to almost sweep them twice to make a difference.
Going 4-3 against the Braves means the Phillies pick up one game. Going 5-2 means advancing three games. The Phillies would have to go 6-1 to even out the current five game lead the Braves have. And the Phillies are not playing as if they are capable of doing that right now.
But fear not: this swoon might be better for the Phillies long-term. We may better know who cannot sustain a consistent season and might not be a long-term fit on this Phillies team. I think the Phillies also learned their lesson that the Vince Velasquez-Nick Pivetta-Zach Eflin trio is not an answer long-term.