Gabe Kapler met with reporters ahead of tonight’s Phillies game against the Marlins. It’s been a bad run for the local squad lately, and they’ll look to get things going against the lowly Marlins at home where they are 23-14 this season. Kapler hit on quite a few topics with reporters this afternoon, so let’s get into it.

Weekend Starters Set

Get excited, Phils fans!

Vince Velasquez will get the ball on Saturday afternoon, and it will be Enyel De Los Santos on Sunday in the finale. Velasquez was ineffective last Sunday in his return to the rotation. He put the Phillies in an early first inning 3-0 hole and couldn’t make it out of the third. In seven starts this season, Velasquez has completed six innings only once. For those wondering, this probably won’t be his last start. It sure seemed like Kapler is looking for Velasquez to hammer down the rotation’s final spot, telling reporters that he “has an opportunity to take control” of it, while also noting Velasquez has the most upside. This won’t be an “opener” deal either. Kapler believes Velasquez is stretched out enough to go through the Marlins lineup a couple of times.

From this perspective, that’s probably true, although that’s less of a ringing endorsement as much as it is an indictment of the Phillies’ rotation options.

De Los Santos, meanwhile, has been solid at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season and was the most logical candidate to grab Sunday’s start. In four appearances with the Phillies out of the bullpen, he’s been ineffective, but he does have a 3.28 ERA in eight starts with the Iron Pigs, limiting hitters to a .218 BAA while striking out 44 hitters in 35.2 IP.

Lineup Shuffle

Here’s how the Phillies will roll tonight:

You’ll notice that Aaron Nola is hitting in the No. 8 spot. Kapler told reporters he wants to get some speed ahead of Bryce Harper, who’s leading off for the second straight night, and Rhys Hoskins. We’ll see if that speed/power combo gets things going for a stagnant offense. Over the last 30 days, the Phillies offense is 19th in SLG%, 20th in OPS, 19th in HR, and 24th in runs scored. That’s not going to get it done–not with how this pitching staff is going right now.

Speaking of power, Kapler was asked about Harper’s lack of it this season.  In a totally unsurprising development, he isn’t concerned, saying plainly, “Bryce will hit home runs for us.”

That settles that, I guess.

Morgan Back From IL Stint

Adam Morgan’s stint on the IL has been a big problem for a suspect Phillies bullpen, but he’s back tonight. Thank God.

In 24 games this season, Morgan has a 1.94 ERA with a 0.71 WHIP and has limited opponents to a .131 BAA. Cole Irvin, who proved largely ineffective in a bullpen role, will return to Triple-A.

Franco Out Again

Maikel Franco played in the finale against the Nationals on Thursday night, but Scott Kingery will man third base tonight. Kapler told reporters that the team will continue to look for opportunities to get him on the field.

My take? He’s clearly no longer the first option at third base, and barring injury (which is no given with the 2019 Phillies), it really does feel like the team is turning the page on his run here.