Phillies Mailbag: Pitching, Offense, Ramos
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.
With the Phillies system filled with young pitchers, who do you think finds their way into the rotation regularly next and sticks? De Los Santos? Irvin? Eshelman?
This is a really good question, but I think that it's one that time will determine the final result. When the Phillies hit the July 31 trade deadline, they felt that their rotation of Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta would suffice. It's hard to see them deviate from that anytime soon, but opportunities often create themselves.
Right now, Ranger Suarez and Enyel De Los Santos are on the current 40-man roster and may have an opportunity to start a game or two when doubleheaders necessitate that (and one of them will pitch this week, probably). But Cole Irvin, a left-handed starter like Suarez, is ahead of Suarez developmentally and could be an option soon, possibly even in September if they can find room on the roster for him.
I think if a pitcher is subtracted from the five mentioned above, Irvin might have the edge going into next year as he is left-handed. The Phillies badly could use a lefty. But I do not think someone is subtracted unless there is an injury or the Phillies find themselves in a situation where trading a pitcher helps in a trade (though that probably will not be Nola or Arrieta).
But teams often need six, seven, eight or even more starters throughout a season. Do not forget that Ben Lively, while injured and out for the year, remains in the mix, too.
What would you do to boost this Phillies offense?
I think that boosting this offense will be much easier once the Phillies add new catcher Wilson Ramos into the mix. Looking at the numbers, the Phillies simply will have too many bats with an OPS at or around or above .800 to work. What I would do is build a lineup in which they are all stacked and go from there.
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Rhys Hoskins, LF
3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
4. Wilson Ramos, C
5. Carlos Santana, 1B
6. Nick Williams, RF
7. Maikel Franco, 3B
8. Odubel Herrera, LF
That represents a good balance left-handed and right-handed, as the opposing bullpens often salivated at facing those lefties.
Carlos Santana is batting just .218 on balls put into play, which seems to suggest he is going through an unlucky stretch. A "normal" BABIP is about .300, which means he is better than the number show. Over time, the balls he hits should find their way into play and he will get more hits.
What is the plan with Wilson Ramos?
According to the agent for Wilson Ramos, the All-Star catcher will play one more game at Class-A Advanced Clearwater before returning to the Phillies tomorrow. That is good news for the Phillies offense, who could use the boost, as we just discussed. Once he is there, expect Ramos to be right in the heart of the Phillies lineup.
As Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia noted a while back, the Phillies have acquired two of only four players with an OPS above .800 at the trade deadline in Ramos and Asdrubal Cabrera. That means the Phillies lineup will greatly benefit from having Ramos in it.
The move means a quick trip to Triple-A for Andrew Knapp, in all likelihood. But Knapp should return September 1 soon as rosters expand.
Ramos will help mentor and bring along both Knapp and starter Jorge Alfaro. The move means that Knapp can freely pinch-hit in September, something that the switch-hitter has had success at times doing. Having at bats at Triple-A could benefit Knapp, who has long been considered an asset as a hitter.