I'll take the blame for this one. Last Saturday, I was watching batting practice at Citizens Bank Park when I told some fellow writers that I had a feeling the Phillies were going to somehow, someway make the playoffs. They had won 15 of 20 and were inching toward first place as the season's first month came to a close. It was early, but things were looking good. I got ahead of myself. The Phils have since lost four in a row. Perhaps I jinxed them. The Phillies went 1 for 10 Tuesday night with runners in scoring position and are trying to avoid being swept tonight by the last-place Marlins. A stiff test awaits this weekend against the Nationals, and the schedule will get only tougher. Reality seems to be setting in. Yes, it is way, way too early to be talking about the playoffs.
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— Matt Breen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Zach Eflin spoke throughout spring training about the health of his knees and how he finally felt at full strength after the pair of knee surgeries he had at the end of the 2016 season. Tuesday's start — one run allowed in six innings — might have been a look at what a healthy Eflin can do.
He threw strikes at a 70 percent rate and zipped his four-seam fastball with a career-high average velocity of 94.9 mph. His slider, which he threw for 39 percent of his pitches, had excellent horizontal movement. He was perfect until the sixth inning and pitched with efficiency.
Eflin was sharp, but the Phillies wasted his outing by giving him just one run. Eflin entered spring training as the favorite to leave camp as the fifth starter before he started to sputter in the final weeks. He has his chance now with Ben Lively on the disabled list. Tuesday night was a solid first step.
It looked scary Tuesday night when Scott Kingery took a 98-mph fastball to the right arm. And it looked even worse when he was removed from the game an inning later. But it seems he will be OK. Manager Gabe Kapler said removing Kingery was just a precaution. Kingery said it looked worse than it felt. The Phillies had some good news after their loss.
Nick Williams came through Tuesday night with a pinch-hit single to snap an 0-for-20 rut, but that might not do much to increase his playing time. The Phillies appear set on giving Aaron Altherr most of the playing time in right field, and Altherr has recently seemed to find his swing. An interesting development happened the last two days in Lehigh Valley as Roman Quinn started consecutive games in right field. Quinn is batting .303 in triple A, and the Phillies might soon swap Williams for Quinn.
Today: Phillies try to avoid getting swept by Miami, 7:10 p.m.
Thursday: Off day
Friday: Phillies play Nationals for first time, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Vince Velasquez vs. the Nats, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: Jake Arrieta tries to bounce back from rough start, 1:35 p.m.
Edubray Ramos needed just two pitches Tuesday night to retire the lone batter he faced as he continues to emerge as a key reliever. He has not allowed a base runner in seven of his 14 appearances, and he has allowed just one earned run in his first 13 innings. The Phillies are going to have to make some bullpen decisions in the next six weeks with Seranthony Dominguez pushing for a promotion from triple A and Mark Leiter Jr. working his way back from the disabled list. Ramos seems safe.