Phillies Mailbag: Velasquez and Irvin, Catching, Kingery’s Return
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday. Send your questions anytime on Twitter to @FrankKlose or send a text to the text board at 609-403-0973.
If Cole Irvin maintains reasonable success, would you finally make the move of Vince Velasquez to the bullpen?
The Phillies might have made a change from Vince Velasquez to Cole Irvin even without an injury. Velasquez said upon being placed on the disabled list that he was "a little sore in the forearm area".but said told Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was "still a starter". However, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic, "I haven't made any determinations beyond tonight", when asked about Velasquez's rotation spot.
The Phillies have already announced Irvin as Friday's starter against the Colorado Rockies. If all goes well with that start, Irvin might be sticking around. That's even if Velasquez's disabled list stay is short, as the club expects.
The 2016, 2017 or 2018 Phillies might have had the ability to be patient with Velasquez. But the 2019 Phillies are 24-16 and have a 3.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. Simply put: the Phillies are here to win.
That is why starter Nick Pivetta gave way to starter Jerad Eickhoff, once Eickhoff proved he was fully healthy and Pivetta had struggled some.
The Phillies bullpen remains in flux. Edubray Ramos hit the 10-day injured list last night, and we learned yesterday that David Robertson was told not to pick up a baseball for three weeks. Either Pivetta or Velasquez could find themselves in the Phillies bullpen in the future.
Despite Aaron Nola's struggles, he is not going anywhere. Jake Arrieta is not either, and Eickhoff, Zach Eflin and now Irvin have been stellar. A team trying to win will keep that going, even if Pivetta or Velasquez are left behind.
Erik Kratz was designated for assignment by the Giants. Better backup option than Andrew Knapp?
The Phillies organization loves Erik Kratz. The veteran backstop, who started for the Milwaukee Brewers during their playoff run last season, was designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants. The Phillies had Kratz in the organization 2011 through 2013 and again in 2015. But do not expect him anytime soon.
Fans remain frustrated with back-up backstop Andrew Knapp. Why? He's batting .156, I suppose. However, let's keep in mind that Kratz batted .125 in the major leagues this season.
So if it is about the catching, the Phillies would be foolish to mess with Knapp now. If you have not noticed, Knapp has caught the last three Zach Eflin starts in a row. Those three starts included two complete games and one seven-inning victory.
Thursday is a 1:05 start, a day game after a night game and Eflin is on the mound. Who do you suppose is going to catch Eflin this time around? It's certainly not official, but all signs point to Knapp, even though Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has stopped short of calling Knapp Eflin's personal catcher.
Your backup catcher starts maybe once a week. And that one day a week he and Eflin have been stellar. Would you really want to mess with that?
Speaking of Kratz, I can see many organizations signing Kratz to keep as depth at Triple-A in case of an injury. Kratz has made a career of being the guy stashed at Triple-A who eventually gets a call-up. I can see that continuing. Would the Phillies consider that?
Maybe, but I think both Rob Brantly and Deivy Grullon are doing just fine and could fill in at the big league level. Having Matt McBride in his home town and able to catch and play first base gives the team a valuable third option.
How often do you expect Scott Kingery to play upon his return? Who gets bumped from the 25-man roster when he is activated?
I think the Phillies will use Scott Kingery plenty upon his return. Kingery's rehab assignment was supposed to begin last night at Class-A Lakewood, but the game was rained out. Kingery is set to play all over the diamond in his rehab assignment, which is an indication he will play all over for the Phillies.
Since the Phillies lost both Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr was designated for assignment, the team does not have a strong center field backup. Andrew McCutchen played capably a few times as of late, but I think the Phillies would like a right-handed option for days that Odubel Herrera would take a day off. Kingery could fill that.
At third base, Maikel Franco has cooled off some, and could use a day off there. Currently hot, Cesar Hernandez would have benefited from a day off recently, but the club did not have such a substitute. Though he's been really good, Jean Segura can use a day off now and then.
I can see Kingery starting 3-4 days a week depending upon the schedule. It would have been nice to have Kingery in Kansas City for interleague play and the designated hitter, something he can help with in Detroit, Boston, and Cleveland later in the season.
Of course, the injury bug has hit the Phillies plenty so far. But Kingery could fill it at any of these positions if necessary.
As for who he replaces, I think it is still a toss-up between Sean Rodriguez and Phil Gosselin. Both players can play infield and outfield, though neither player can play center field. They have both hit well, so it could be a toss-up. I am not sure if last night was any indication of preference as they sent Gosselin up to pinch-hit over Rodriguiez; it could have simply been a matter of match up.
But as we saw before when Herrera got hurt after the Phillies waited to activate Quinn, the team cannot take health for granted. So, I would expect the Phillies to wait as long as possible to see if there's a clear need for a particular roster spot at that time.