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Phillies Should Be Hunting for Starting Pitcher

Phillies Should Be Hunting for Starting Pitcher
After losing two of three games to the Atlanta Braves, things are looking bad for the Phillies. Of course in a 162-game season there are plenty of peaks and valleys. Remember, when it looked in the beginning of the year that the Phillies might run away with the East Division?
 
Now it looks like the Braves are unstoppable.
 
The likely scenario is that both teams will be battling each other all year. And who knows whether the New York Mets or Washington Nationals could get back in the race.
 
Either way, Atlanta seems to have the offense to stay in for a long time. The bullpen, which did the Braves in during Saturday’s 9-8 loss to the Phillies, is another question.
 
In fact, instead of signing Dallas Keuchel, the Braves should have signed their former closer Craig Kimbrel.
 
Then again, the Phillies should have made a run at Kimbrell. Even though the Phillies need a starter, it’s hard to be sold on Keuchel, who has had two impressive seasons (2015 and 2017) but hasn’t shown has been inconsistent otherwise.
 
Kimbrel had a shaky postseason for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, but the Cubs signed him to a three-year, $43 million deal, banking on the seven-time all-star to return to form.
 
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler tried using the opener route on Sunday and it resulted in a 15-1 loss to the Braves. Vince Velasquez has not been on his game as a starter or reliever.
 
It was thought that pitching Velasquez in relief would allow him to rely more on his blazing fastball, but that hasn’t been the case.
 
Velasquez and Cole Irvin both got shelled against Atlanta, which has one of the more impressive lineups in baseball.
 
It seems that the best bet for Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is to make a trade. Pitchers like Giants lefthander Madison Bumgarner will be available.
 
Bumgarner, who turns 30 on Aug. 1, will be a free agent after this season so any team that trades for him, could have him leave via free agency.
 
Even though that could happen, the price for Bumgarner at the July 31 trade deadline will be high. If the Phillies feel he can put them over the hump, would they trade one of their top minor league prospects like lefthander Damon Jones, who was recently promoted to Reading and struck out 12 over six innings during his Double-A debut, a 2-1 win over Harrisburg.
 
(If Jones keeps pitching the way he has for Clearwater and now Reading, maybe he will be called up eventually to the Phillies.)
 
The point is, that it would take a prospect like Jones to pry away Bumgarner.
 
Even acquiring somebody like Mike Minor of Texas, will likely be expensive in terms of prospects.
 
No matter what the Phillies do, they can’t stand pat.
 
While the No. 5 spot in the rotation can’t be expected to be strong, it has to be better than what the Phillies have received lately. Jared Eickhoff had the fifth spot in the rotation, but he has been homer-prone.
 
Regardless, the Phillies have to do something. Standing pat would likely ruin their chances at earning their first postseason berth since 2011.
 
Hoopes as 6-0 with a 1.66 ERA. In 38 innings he struck out 65 and walked 20.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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