Zach Eflin is supposed to be the Phillies' No. 5 starter. Instead, he has been their stopper. Eflin blanked the mighty Yankees for seven innings in a 3-0 victory Wednesday night, punctuating a June in which he went 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in five starts. Four of the righthander's wins followed a Phillies loss, prompting the question of where the team would be without him. It's quite the reversal of fortune for Eflin, who ended May amid questions about his status in the rotation after giving up five earned runs in back-to-back starts. How much is Eflin rolling? Consider the top of the fifth inning against the Yankees. He issued a two-out walk to Brett Gardner only to strike out slugger Giancarlo Stanton. "I was joking with Eflin about how he walked Gardner to get to Stanton. I thought that was an interesting strategy," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It worked out well."
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The trade deadline is five weeks away, and regardless of what happens in the next four games against the rival Nationals, the Phillies really should do, well, something. Doing nothing would insult a young roster that has managed to be 2 1/2 games out of first place at the season's 78-game mark.
It's unlikely that general manager Matt Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail will go all-in on a win-now trade, and it's difficult to blame them. The rebuild is still ongoing, the payoff of a postseason berth not yet guaranteed, and if they would rather wait to throw wads of cash at Manny Machado in the offseason rather than dealing elite-level prospects to pry him from the Orioles now, that's perfectly understandable.
But there are two short-term upgrades worth pursuing before July 31. Third basemen Mike Moustakas and Adrian Beltre play for last-place teams and will be free agents at season's end. It would be downright foolish for the Royals and Rangers, respectively, not to trade them, even if it means settling for mid-range or lower-tier prospects.
The Phillies have the fifth-worst third base OPS of any NL team. The only question, then, should be whether Moustakas or Beltre is the better fit.
Moustakas, 29, is 10 years younger than Beltre, but that shouldn't matter much to a team that is thinking of trading for them for two months. Beltre has dealt with hamstring problems, while Moustakas has appeared in all but one game after playing in 147 last year. Moustakas also has 53 homers over the past two seasons, including 15 this year, despite playing home games in Kansas City's cavernous Kauffman Stadium.
Beltre is a future Hall of Famer, one of only six players in history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles and 400 homers (the others: Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, Cal Ripken and Albert Pujols). He's still productive, too, batting .313 with four homers and an .827 OPS in 182 at-bats this season. He's also 16-for-46 (.348) against lefthanded pitching, notable considering the Phillies have only a .691 OPS against lefties.
Something else to consider: Beltre is a 10/5 player (10 years in the majors, the past five for the same team) and can therefore block any trade. For a chance to return to the playoffs, he might consider it.
With a big swing from Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies picked up a huge win. Not only did they finally defeat the mighty Yankees, but as Matt Breen writes, they averted a sweep that would've been poorly timed with the Nats coming to town.
The mighty Yankees came and went, and although they won two of the three games here this week, the impressionable Phillies can learn a lot from having seen them, as Phillies (and former Yankees) bench coach Rob Thomson told Bob Ford.
Trade for Cole Hamels or Adrian Beltre? David Murphy would be on board with that, but only as long as the Phillies don't mortgage a piece of their future.
Pat Neshek will continue his minor-league rehab assignment Friday night. Beyond that, manager Gabe Kapler said the side-arming reliever could be ready to make his season debut for the Phillies.
The player that the Phillies acquired for shortstop Freddy Galvis is leading the triple A International League with a 1.73 ERA. Here's a closer look at righthander Enyel De Los Santos, courtesy of Marc Narducci in our weekly minor-league report.
For three days, Yankees fans poured into South Philly. Mitchell Gladstone went to Citizens Bank Park and asked one question: Who are all these pinstriped people?
Tonight: Aaron Nola starts series opener vs. the Nationals, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Ex-Nats prospect Nick Pivetta gets another shot at former team, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Postgame fireworks after Phillies vs. Nationals, 6:05 p.m.
Sunday: Jake Arrieta vs. Gio Gonzalez in Phillies-Nationals finale, 1:35 p.m.
Monday: Off day for Phillies, but "Extra Innings" presses on.
Tuesday: Manny Machado (and the Orioles) visits Citizens Bank Park, 7:05 p.m.
Jayson Werth apparently has had enough. After 15 big-league seasons — and two months back in triple A, where he was hitting .206 and coping with hamstring issues — the veteran outfielder announced in his unique way Wednesday that he plans to retire.
Werth, 39, told Jon Heyman of FanCred Sports that he's "done … whatever you want to call it" with pro ball, adding that he has "no regrets." And why should he? In 1,583 games for the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals, Werth batted .267 with a .360 on-base percentage, .816 OPS and 29.0 WAR. He's one of only 46 players in the last 30 years to hit at least 225 home runs and steal at least 125 bases. He played in the 2009 All-Star Game, finished eighth in National League MVP voting in 2010 and earned approximately $137 million in salary.
And, of course, he won a World Series with the Phillies 10 years ago.
Not a bad career, especially considering it almost ended in 2006. Werth missed that season after having his wrist shattered by a pitch from A.J. Burnett in spring training one year earlier. The injury wouldn't heal, not after consultations with specialists or even exploratory surgery. It wasn't until a neighbor recommended a visit to Dr. Richard Berger at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota that Werth was diagnosed with a rare split tear of the ulnotriquetal ligament in his wrist and treated successfully.
Question: Hi Scott! Extra Innings is great! First thing I read every morning. So, is it possible that the situation with the defense and [Jake] Arrieta has taken on a life of its own? In other words, can the players be tightening up because of Arrieta's attitude toward their performances? Thanks. –Chuck D, via e-mail
Answer: Hi, Chuck. Glad you're enjoying "Extra Innings." Great question. I haven't gotten a sense that Arrieta's criticism after the June 3 game in San Francisco has put players on edge, so to speak. Neither does Gabe Kapler, who said he hasn't noticed second baseman Cesar Hernandez or rookie shortstop Scott Kingery looking "anything but loose behind all our pitchers." Keep in mind, although Arrieta did single out a misplay by Kingery in that loss to the Giants, his comments seemed to be aimed more towards the staff and its lack of effectiveness in implementing various shifts.