After taking games one and two against a premier National League offense, the Phillies were ultimately unable to complete the sweep this afternoon. Zach Eflin lasted just 3 & 2/3 frames, allowing six hits and three earned runs in that span. The game was blown completely open when Vince Velasquez – now firmly in the bullpen with the announcement that Pivetta will return to the rotation – surrendered four runs on five hits in the fifth.
As for the opposing starter – Brandon Woodruff – it appeared as though nothing could go wrong. Woodruff went 8 shutout innings in an absolutely dominant outing that included 10 k’s. A sixth inning home-run was the only blemish in what was a perfect outing for the 26 year-old right-hander, who is now 7-1 on the season with an ERA of 3.22.
Today was an abysmal showing that the Phillies will surely want to forget, but it did have a couple positive takeaways. For one, this afternoon’s game is the last of a 17-day marathon of games that started in Kansas City on May 10th. The club went 10-7 in that span and managed to take a series from the Brewers, split 2-2 with the Cubs and picked up an additional three series wins against the Royals, Cardinals and Rockies. It was much better than their last 17-game marathon and it came against much better teams.
JD Hammer Makes His Major League Debut
Another silver-lining in today’s game was the debut of JD Hammer. Hammer – 25 in July – is a hard throwing right-hander out of Marshall University. Known for his Vance Worley-esque goggles, Hammer was already popular in Phillies circles due to his truly great baseball name.
Though the game was a total wash for the team overall, Hammer managed to retire each of the three batters he faced for a scoreless frame. It may sound pedestrian at first glance, but this was no ordinary 1,2,3 inning. The 24 year-old sat down reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and managed to strike out Mike Moustakas. That’s a tough three hitters to face and the rookie got it done. Plus, we’re only one game in and we already got to see Hammer vs. the Hebrew Hammer. How can it get any better than that?
Hammer was called up to take the place of Pat Neshek after he landed on the IL with a shoulder issue. This is an interesting turn of events given the fact that Hammer was acquired when the Phillies shipped Neshek off to Colorado in 2017. The team then of course re-signed Neshek to a two-year deal that winter.
Whether Hammer sticks around for now remains to be seen, but Pat Neshek is certainly a confusing case of late. He never wants to pitch on back-to-back nights and has really been hearing about it after last week’s controversial loss to the Cubs. Neshek warmed up but never came in to a game that was ultimately lost on a Nicasio blown-save attempt.
But no matter what happens with Neshek, David Robertson or Victor Arano – the latter of which just got some bad news – JD Hammer certainly looks to be a bullpen piece of the future. The rookie will hope to contribute as much as he can, as soon as he can to a relief corps that has been much improved in May.
So it may not last just yet, but it’s Hammer time for now. I’m sorry, but it had to be done. At least I went the whole article without saying it once; you’ve gotta give me that.
The Phillies will be back Tuesday night at 7:05.