Phillies Mailbag: Development, Nola’s (Almost) Gem, Hoskins
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and answer them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill. Ask your question at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter.
Very interesting question here, which comes from Jason Lee of PHL17. Aaron Nola flirted with a no-hitter. Then he lost the no-hitter. Then he lost the lead, got a no-decision, and then the game. It was a game the Phillies would have really loved to have, particularly since they took the other two games of the series and currently sit 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
But I don't think that Nola is the type of player to be rattled by this. If you've seen his Yuengling commercials, you'll note he's not one to show a lot of emotion one way or another.
I would think he would have a certain level of disappointment, for sure. But we saw what else may have contributed to that, including an error by subbing first baseman Brad Miller that gave the Padres that extra out. Not that he would be satisfied that an error led to an extra batter and that final batter tied the game.
The Phillies ended up taking two out of three in San Diego. Hopefully Nola would be satisfied with that and then come out strong in his next start against Arizona.
Both Phil and Eric asked questions about the development of Phillies players, so I figured I would address them at the same time. Clearly, the recent demotion of Alec Bohm has made waves with some people. I was not surprised at the demotion, as the Phillies would need to clear two spaces for position hitters, with first Rhys Hoskins and soon Freddy Galvis being activated.
To address Bohm: I think that his defense was always a question. When he joined the Phillies last year, I surmised that the Phillies would try to get through two seasons at third base until Andrew McCutchen becomes a free agent. Those who developed Bohm internally never felt his glove was a sure thing at third base.
When asked specifically about the potential of Bohm in the outfield, general manager Sam Fuld told reporters (including Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer), "That’s not something we’re looking to do in the very near future".
No, they are not going to supplant McCutchen with Bohm. But next year he could find himself there.
Yogi Berra famously said of baseball is "90 percent of the game is half mental". Bohm's defensive woes were clearly affecting his offense. Though he had a nice June and July average-wise, his power was not there. And in his seven games prior to his demotion, Bohm was batting just .077.
There are other names to remember, though. Adam Haseley and Mickey Moniak seem far from sure bets. We all have seen Scott Kingery plenty. Spencer Howard has been with Texas what he was with the Phillies.
But players are never sure bets.
The Phillies have actually retooled their development staff in the last couple years, with Josh Bonifay serving as director of player development and Brian Barber taking the role of scouting director. It's too soon to see how they do with these players.
So did the Phillies draft poorly at times? Would these players all have been starters in the major leagues had the Phillies done something different after drafting them? Or are they simply not good enough. That's a possibility.
We will see what happens with Bohm. There have been plenty of players who started out hot and never adjusted to the league when the league adjusted to them. But the Phillies will have to figure out what to do with Bohm defensively, a question all along. Hopefully his bat will come back as he is settled.
I am going to say both. Sorry Rich, that does not totally answer your question, but we have witnessed what happens when Nola is not on top of his game, and what happens with Hoskins out of the lineup. Neither has worked out well.
This Phillies lineup has always seemed to thrive when the key pieces are there. After injuries early to Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura, the offense struggled. The offense struggled again during the most recent injured list stint, this time from Hoskins. Not having a sold right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup left an incredible hole.
Granted, I can see the Phillies sitting Hoskins against some tough right-handed pitching as he eases his groin back into day-to-day action.
But even aside from the two home runs Hoskins hit in his return, the rest of the lineup seemed to function more like it should. So that is important.
Now to Nola. Nola's lack of success in September has arguably been a key factor in the September swoons the Phillies have become accustomed to. Here is how Nola did in the month of September each of the last two seasons:
- 2019: 0-3, 6.51 ERA
- 2020: 2-3, 3.57 ERA (including going 2 2/3 innings in his final start that could've been a playoff clincher)
The Phillies will need a strong Nola in these last five weeks if they hope to make the playoffs. He will make six or seven more starts, depending on how things go. The Phillies need every one to count.
The Phillies are 4.5 games out of first place, and they need to make these final 38 games count. 30 are against teams that on paper they should beat. The Phillies face the Braves for three key games in the penultimate series of the season. Nola and the pitching staff and Hoskins and the offense need to be present.