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Wilson Ramos Will Reportedly Be Activated Today

BWanksCB - August 15, 2018

The Phillies’ recent freefall continued last night after failing to back Nick Pivetta’s strong outing in a 2-1 loss. They’ve scored only 16 runs while losing five of their last seven games.

In other words, it’s time for the Phillies to stop fucking around. There should absolutely exist an all hands on deck mentality within that clubhouse after the sloppy, unfocused, and lifeless effort the team displayed on its recent west coast trip in which they scored a whopping 2.5 runs per game. That’s why it makes sense that All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos is reportedly set to make his Phillies debut tonight after being activated from a near-month long stint on the disabled list:

Ramos will return after a three-game rehab assignment with Clearwater in which he went 4 for 9 with three doubles. He figures to dramatically improve the team’s offensive production at catcher. Over the last 30 days, Phillies catchers have posted a miserable .258 SLG% and league-worst 38.1 K%. They are hitting only .194 during that stretch. Ramos, meanwhile, has a .346 OBP and .834 OPS with 14 homers while striking out in only 19.4% of his 315 plate appearances this season.

Bring me this:

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The Phillies Explode for Two Hits But Still Fall Short to Red Sox

BWanksCB - August 14, 2018

Nick Pivetta shoved, the offense did next to nothing, and for the fifth time since July 28th the Phillies lost a game in which their starting pitcher allowed two runs or less.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The Phillies lost for the fifth time in seven games because this was their only offense of the night:

They also lost because Tommy Hunter, as he often has this season, buried his team once again by allowing this ill-timed nuke off the bat of Brock Holt:

Here’s a thought. Imagine if the Phillies acquired a legitimate late-inning reliever at the trade deadline so they wouldn’t have had to use a guy who has been largely ineffective for four months in one of the season’s most important games. Wouldn’t that be cool? I can’t say I blame Gabe Kapler for not feeling the vaunted Aaron Loup in that spot.

Hey, wait. That’s not fair. Tommy Hunter has been better lately!

Meh. I know Hunter had allowed only five earned runs in 19 IP since July 1 before tonight. I also know he had allowed only one home run to the 100 left-handed hitters he had faced this season entering tonight. I care not. The outcome of that inning remains completely unsurprising.

Still, I can’t even bring myself to feel max hate on Hunter when the offense continues to sputter like this. The Phillies struck out 13 more times tonight, had only two hits (two god damn hits), and have now scored 39 runs in 11 games this month. The offense continues to strike out far too much and remains too home run reliant. It has been, I don’t know, what’s the word I’m looking for here?

Embarrassing. Ah yes, that’s it.

Is it time to panic? Who knows? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult for even the most optimistic of observers to believe that an underachieving lineup is suddenly going to turn it on.

Unless, of course, you are an authentic fan.

Phillies Recall Hector Neris, Send J.P. Crawford to Triple-A

BWanksCB - August 14, 2018

When we last saw Hector Neris on June 29, he stood a battered and broken pitcher atop the mound of Citizens Bank Park after allowing Washington Nationals hitters to belt three mammoth home runs in what was a disastrous performance. His ERA climbed to 6.90 and the Phillies had finally seen enough.

Since that night, Neris disappeared to Lehigh Valley for a little over six weeks and has been lights out. In 19 games with the Iron Pigs, Neris pitched to a 1.45 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .138 batting average. He’s posted a 0.86 WHIP and has 31 strikeouts over 18.2 innings pitched. Now, the Phillies are hoping with a renewed confidence that Neris can recapture the form that made him a quality late-inning option not so long ago:

Recalling Neris makes total sense. In the short-term, having an extra arm available against a potent Red Sox offense that comes into tonight averaging 7.91 runs per game in August can’t hurt. He also has long-term upside. Neris has proven over an extended stretch at Triple-A that the command which betrayed him earlier this season has returned. He still possesses an elite ability to miss bats and could provide a big boost down the stretch to what has been an inconsistent bullpen, so he’s most certainly worth a look.

What doesn’t make sense is Scott Kingery’s continued existence on the 25-man roster.

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A Bettor’s Guide To The Phillies and Red Sox Series

BWanksCB - August 14, 2018

The Phillies look to get back on track this week at Citizens Bank Park after a tough west coast road trip in which the team went 2-4 and fell out of first-place in the National League East. But doing so won’t be easy.

The Boston Red Sox come to town as winners in nine of their last 10 games, which has propelled them an absurd 50 games over .500.

The Phillies’ pitching quieted a potent Red Sox lineup during their two-game series back in late July, but that was with Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta on the mound. It will be up to Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez to quiet a scorching Boston lineup that has produced 87 runs in 11 games this month.

On the other side, the Phillies need the bats to wake up. They scored only 15 runs over their six-game road trip and have only generated 38 total runs in 10 games this month.

One team has all of the momentum, while the other is looking to gain some traction after a difficult stretch. While it certainly seems like a difficult spot for the Phillies, there are some intriguing bits of information and betting options when it comes to tonight’s game. DraftKings Sportsbook is the only online sports betting option available for those of you in New Jersey, so let’s take a look at their offerings for tonight (keep in mind, odds are as of writing this and are subject to change):

1) Phillies +114

As I mentioned above, there’s no team in baseball hotter than the Red Sox right now. They still have an outside shot to pass the 2001 Seattle Mariners’ MLB-record 116 regular season wins. They send 14-game winner Rick Porcello to the mound against Nick Pivetta, owner of a 7-9 record and 4.51 ERA. Given this, the Red Sox at -132 seems a bit cheap. Maybe that’s good value, but as many sports bettors know, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And Pivetta, who has a 1.50 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in two August starts, is better than most people think. Some things to consider:

1) Pivetta’s 2.6 WAR is tied for ninth-best among qualified National League starting pitchers. His 3.48 FIP is 8th best, and his 11.06 K/9 is bested by only Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin in the National League this season.
2. He’s coming off an excellent start at Arizona in which he tossed six shutout innings.
3. He pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out nine against Boston last season.

Considering the Phillies’ lackadaisical and uninspiring play this past weekend, their motivation should be sky-high in a “show-me” game as they return home against baseball’s best team. Keep in mind, the Phillies’ 38-18 mark at CBP gives them the NL’s best home record this season.

2. Under 8.5 +102

Given the Phillies’ consistent struggles at the plate and my aforementioned belief in Pivetta, I also like the “under” on total runs a bit in this game. I don’t recommend taking it at the set line of 9 runs, but thanks to DraftKings’ robust “alternate total runs” betting option, there’s a way to gain some value. May I suggest dropping the total to 8.5 and taking the “under” at +102. Yes, this maneuver eliminates the potential for a push at nine total runs, but it also saves 24 cents on the dollar. Pivetta’s July struggles came in the midst of a stretch in which the “over” hit in 7 of his 8 starts (the other was a push), but the “under” has cashed his last two times through the rotation. Keep in mind he’s limited opponents to a .242 average and .688 OPS at home this season. I think there’s some value on backing the under once again.

3. Phillies to lead after three innings +160

This pick has a little bit to do with numbers and a little bit to do with feel. Boston pitchers allow an average of 1.40 runs in innings 1-3, while the Philadelphia’s allow 1.39 runs per game. Offensively, the Red Sox average 1.67 runs to the Phillies 1.42 over the first three innings. Pivetta has struggled in the first inning this season with an ERA well over 5.00, but I think he holds down the Red Sox early tonight. Also, consider this: Pivetta has a 4.55 ERA in innings 1-3 this season, while Rick Porcello has a 5.07 ERA. If the Phillies are going to win this game, they need to start fast. I like the Phillies tonight with a goofy line and the value, and so this is a play that maximizes that value. I’ll take a +160 payout on the NL’s best home team to back a talented and hot pitcher for three innings.

That’s it. A little value for your Tuesday night betting needs. Go forth.

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The Phillies Offense is a Complete Mess

BWanksCB - August 12, 2018

Sean Newcomb pitched for the Braves on Sunday afternoon against the Milwaukee Brewers. This was his final line:

4 IP, 12 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

In fact, Atlanta pitchers surrendered a combined 19 hits and four walks, but it didn’t matter. The Braves won the game, and not only did they win the game, they also moved back into a first-place tie atop the NL East after the Phillies were pummeled by the inferior San Diego Padres in a sloppy and listless 9-3 loss.

So why did I mention Newcomb’s start? Because I need a new way to frame a piece that focuses on how absolutely miserable the Phillies’ lineup is right now. Can you imagine any scenario at the moment in which this team overcomes a similar effort from a starting pitcher to win a game? Of course not. And that’s why you knew, I knew, we all knew that they were completely boned in just the third inning when Freddy Galvis took Jake Arrieta out of the yard for a grand slam.

Because why wouldn’t Freddy Galvis hit a grand slam?

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The Phillies’ Bench Gets Big Upgrade With Addition of Justin Bour

BWanksCB - August 10, 2018

It wasn’t so long ago the Phillies’ bench consisted of players like Jesmuel Velentin, Dylan Cozens, Trevor Plouffe, and Mitch Walding.

Times have changed. The Phillies made a significant upgrade to their bench as they gear up for a playoff run by adding Marlins first baseman Justin Bour in exchange for minor leaguer McKenzie Mills:

The first word that comes to mind when I think about Bour is POWER. Just ask Zach Eflin:

Perhaps not ironically, his four homers against the Phillies are the most he’s hit against any team this season.

Bour, who is posting an .835 OPS with 17 homers against RHP this season, will likely be primarily utilized off the bench, but could also steal an occasional start from Carlos Santana against right-handed pitchers.

The other point of intrigue surrounds the immediate future of Scott Kingery. J.P. Crawford would will rejoin the team in San Diego this weekend, but Bour’s addition could mean a demotion for Scott Kingery. I’ve long preached patience with him, but I think he needs to go down for a few weeks. I’m not sure what the Phillies will do here, and I do understand their reluctance to demote Kingery, but it is almost impossible to justify his place on the 25-man roster at this point. Without hyperbole, he’s been one of the worst hitters in the National League this season. He’s hitting .223 with a .266 OBP and does not have a hit in his last 20 at-bats dating back to July 27. He’s been nothing short of brutal.

Mills, who the Phillies acquired from the Nationals last season in exchange for Howie Kendrick, will join his third organization since being drafted in the 18th round of the 2014 MLB Draft by Washington. The 22-year-old posted a 3.51 ERA over 89.2 IP with Clearwater this season.

Phillies Unveil Jerseys and Names For Players’ Weekend

BWanksCB - August 9, 2018

Lots of people have been asking about where I’ve been and why I haven’t posted much over the last week or so. Actually, nobody has asked at all, but one commenter that goes by the name of “Kevin Kinkead’s Hair” did refer to me as an “ass munch” earlier, so in lots of ways, it’s pretty much the same thing. Just want to let the all three of you who come by on the daily to read my stuff know that I’m on vacation up in New England this week, and will be back to my normal schedule next week. I’m dropping in for this post, though, because I’m currently taking a ton of shit in Slack right now from the guys for saying I was tired from vacation, so I’m checking in with this guilt post.

Anyway, the Phillies released their plans for players’ weekend, which will take place from August 24-26 when the team travels to Toronto for a three-game set against the Blue Jays:

Rhys Hoskins will go by “Big Fella” and Jake Arrieta will rep “Snake” on his jersey while Enyel De Los Santos and Pat Neshek each decided to get really creative by going with… “De Los Santos” and “Neshek,” respectively. Not sure they really got the point here, but whatever.

You can view the full list of names here.

If we did a Writers’ Weekend, Kevin says he would go with “Kinker.” I guess I could go with “Ass Munch,” but “Wanker” probably feels like the right play.

Gabe Kapler: Manager, Blogger, Player, and Endorser of K-Swiss Sneakers

BWanksCB - August 9, 2018

Before Gabe Kapler became the manager of a first-place baseball team, he was the manager you probably wanted fired after his first 48 hours on the job. As you may already know, prior to that he was Director of Player Development for the Dodgers, a health and lifestyle blogger, an enthusiast of various self-lubricating oils, fitness freak, minor league manager, and Major League player.

What you may not know is that once upon a time Kapler was also named the 1998 Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball Weekly, USA Today, and The Sporting News. He parlayed his monster season that year into an endorsement deal with K-Swiss, which I was surprised to learn still exists, and said deal helped spawn this masterpiece of a commercial that looks like it was directed by the same group that did the Spice Girls’ music videos. It’s like if Dunk-a-roos, dial-up modems, Nintendo 64, and pogs were put into a blender and blasted out into a 30-second sneaker ad, this is exactly what would come out. H/T to myself for coming across this gem, which can be viewed after the jump:
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