Phillies Mailbag: Moore, Weak Bats, Center Field Mess
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag. Send your questions to @FrankKlose on Twitter and we'll answer them on Tuesday on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.
If Matt Moore continues to struggle, what are some options? Vinny Velasquez or a free agent like Cole Hamels?
Watching Matt Moore's first three starts, he seems to start out okay. And then he's not. I really would like to pay closer attention to his velocity and if he loses some after the first couple innings. That has me wondering if he is better suited as a reliever at this point in his career.
But we learned yesterday that Moore was placed on the injured list. They did not say why. And then Joe Girardi said "If Moore was not ready" by his next start, the Phillies would go with Vince Velasquez. The only way a player could return from the 10-day injured list sooner is if he was on the COVID list.
A Vince Velasquez special of 4 2/3 innings and a ton of pitches would be better than Moore's three starts. But Moore has faced three pretty good teams so far in the Braves, Mets, and Cardinals. I think the Phillies will have to see more Moore before they make any decisions about his status as a starter.
After all, they gave him a guaranteed $4 million to pitch this season.
They also guaranteed Velasquez about the same amount of money, and he will be pitching the next time Moore's turn comes up. With the uncertainty of the COVID situation, who knows when we will see Moore again.
But I think we will.
As for Cole Hamels, he is not pitching anywhere right now. And, he has not officially retired. But he would have to somehow really prove he has anything left in the tank for the Phillies or anyone else to sign him.
I tend to think if the Phillies were going to take a flyer on someone, it would not be someone with that kind of legacy with the Phillies. Would you want to see Hamels return, get hit around for three starts then released? There are plenty of other pitchers who can do that.
At this rate, will we set the record with the most runners left on base?
Well, the All-Time record is the 1941 St. Louis Browns. They left 1,334 runners on base in their 154-game season. That is 8.66 runners per game.
The Phillies are currently 12th in the category in MLB in 2021 with 6.88 runners left on base per game. The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the way 8.24. The Arizona Diamondbacks are second at 8.00.
However, the last three games the Phillies averaged 10.33 runners left on base per game. Last night, the number was 11, with 10 each of the previous two.
So yes, that is a concern, that Phillies bats are not coming up big. Being that the season average is at 6.88, perhaps the Phillies are just in a rut.
The Phillies lineup has certainly not been helped by center field. No starting center fielder on the team has gotten a hit since April 4. Then the pitcher hits. So Jean Segura's .345 batting average is going to waste with the center fielder, pitcher, and Andrew McCutchen (who is batting .157) all after him.
And then there's another reason: Strikeouts. John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia noted this morning that the team is striking out 9.81 times a game. That's not going to move any runners.
So what do the Phillies do in center field now?
Well, this is bad. No one thought it could be this bad. Even center fielders hitting around the Mendoza line would be better than this. The last time a Phillies starting center fielder got a hit was April 4. That was Adam Haseley.
In his absence, Roman Quinn has not hit. Quinn's first, last, and only hit in 2021 came on April 9. That was a game in which Quinn replaced Haseley in the late innings. As a starter? Nothing.
Then there's Mickey Moniak. Moniak has 12 at bats under his belt. He's stuck out in eight of them. He has no hits. Moniak does have two walks.
So who is next up. Scott Kingery? Well apparently after he reportedly "looked good", he's been scuffling during game play at the Alternate Site. Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that over the weekend the Allentown Morning Call has Kingery 1 for 26 at the Alternate Site with 12 strikeouts.
So the Phillies probably will soon have to go off of their 40-man roster for a center fielder.
Travis Jankowski is at the Alternate Site. He's a career .238 hitter at the Alternate Site. And then there's Odubel Herrera.
Would the Phillies promote Herrera, who hit just .222 during Spring Training? Would he match that against Major League pitching? Would he do worse when he's not facing Spring Training pitchers who occupy space at other teams' alternate sites?
They may feel forced to at some point.
What is clear is that it's really not a good time for a trade. There was some buzz around comments Dave Dombrowski made that he would consider a trade. But other teams are not really trading right now. Many of the "bad" teams are doing just fine in the early going.
But it is still the early going. The Phillies are .500 after what might be their hardest stretch of the season. The center fielders they have have to be better... right?