BALTIMORE -- Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is aware that the 2016 Phillies started 24-17 only to lose 91 games.He also knows there are few, if any, similarities between that team and the 2018 Phillies, who are 23-16."I think, No. 1, this team's starting pitching has really been impressive through
BALTIMORE -- Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is aware that the 2016 Phillies started 24-17 only to lose 91 games.
He also knows there are few, if any, similarities between that team and the 2018 Phillies, who are 23-16.
"I think, No. 1, this team's starting pitching has really been impressive through the first quarter of the season in their ability to throw strikes, in their ability to miss bats and in their ability to induce weak contact," Klentak said before Tuesday night's game against the Orioles at Camden Yards. "On top of that, I think, in the bullpen there is a lot of depth on this team.
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"The way this team is evolving, whether we are winning a close game or losing a close game or it's a blowout game, we're able to put a good arm on the mound that's delivered good results for us. And I think our offense is really starting to click now, too."
In other words, this team's success is legitimately sustainable.
Klentak touched on numerous topics Tuesday as he discussed the Phillies reaching the quarter point of the season. Here are a few:
Klentak seems confident that Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are going to be key pieces in the rotation.
"They've both been really impressive," he said. "Not to say that they've been perfect, I don't think any pitcher in baseball is ever perfect. I think that we've known both of those guys have elite stuff and elite bat-missing abilities. It's been a matter of them doing that in games on a consistent basis. And for the most part, they've done that consistently. They're still young, they still have to continue making adjustments like all of our young players do, but we've been encouraged by what we've seen thus far."
What does that mean for Jerad Eickhoff, who made a rehab start Tuesday with Double-A Reading? Is there a spot for him when he is healthy?
"I think Jerad, based on his track record … he's earned that," Klentak said. "So, we're going to set our sights on him joining the rotation. When that day comes, we still have a few weeks until that day comes, but when that time comes we'll make the best decision we can based on the information that we have at that moment. A lot can change between now and his activation date."
July 31 is coming
Nobody knows where the Phillies will be in the standings after the All-Star break, but if the team is hanging around could they make a move or two to help them make a postseason run?
"It's too early for us to make that determination," Klentak said. "I think that's something that we're constantly evaluating as we play our games. We're assessing how good our team is but also where we have a need. I talked about the left-handed pitching and that might be one area to address. We're at the quarter pole. I think it's a little early to start talking about that. There's been some light dialogue among a few teams so far but really nothing substantial, just a very-early feeling out. As we get deeper into June and July, I know that activity will pick up and we'll just have to see how we stack up when we get to that point."
Top picks struggling
Cornelius Randolph, Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley are the Phillies' last three first-round Draft picks. Each has struggled.
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The Phillies selected Randolph, 20, with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 Draft. He is hitting .198 with a .552 OPS in 113 plate appearances with Double-A Reading. The Phillies selected Moniak, 20, with the first overall pick in 2016. He is hitting .220 with a .498 OPS in 137 plate appearances with Class A Advanced Clearwater. Haseley, 22, was selected with the eighth overall pick in 2017. He is hitting .257 with a .618 OPS in 145 plate appearances with Clearwater.
"I'm not terribly concerned," Klentak said. "Obviously, we'd like them to get off to better starts. Cornelius started off in a very cold-weather environment. He's run into some tough luck. Mickey is the youngest guy again in his league. For the second year in a row we've aggressively promoted him to high A. I think he turns 20 this week or next week. In Haseley's case, really, I think he's doing a lot of things really well. The power numbers haven't been there yet, but this is his first full season in pro ball. We're going to stick with those guys and take our chances with them."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.