CINCINNATI -- Nick Pivetta struggled again Friday night in a 6-4 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park, but unless the Phillies change their minds, they are unlikely to acquire a starting pitcher before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.They like what they have.Phillies starting pitchers entered the night with
CINCINNATI -- Nick Pivetta struggled again Friday night in a 6-4 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park, but unless the Phillies change their minds, they are unlikely to acquire a starting pitcher before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
They like what they have.
Phillies starting pitchers entered the night with a 3.81 ERA, which ranked ninth in baseball. Their 1.22 WHIP ranked seventh. Their 3.61 FIP ranked fourth. In other words, despite the fact that Pivetta allowed five runs in six innings to fall to 1-6 with a 6.84 ERA in 10 starts since June 1, the Phillies think there are more pressing needs -- and better ways to allocate their resources -- than to trade more prospects for a starter. The Phillies used No. 10 prospect Franklyn Kilome to acquire Mets infielder Asdrubal Cabrera on Friday.
"Nick's performance is not a concern," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think each man in our five-man rotation gives us a great chance to win every single night. We all feel confident when we send Nick out to the mound, and we will feel confident even in a pennant race."
Pivetta struck out the side in the first inning, but he allowed a solo home run to Eugenio Suarez to start the second to make it 1-0. Pivetta struck out four of the next five batters he faced when he allowed a two-out double to Jose Peraza in the third. Scooter Gennett followed with a single to hand the Reds a 2-0 lead.
Pivetta allowed back-to-back singles to start the fourth, before he hung a 1-2 slider to Mason Williams, who hit a three-run homer to make it 5-2. A frustrated Pivetta dropped his head and put his hands on his knees as the ball cleared the fence.
"Just let the team down tonight," he said. "I made a mistake on a 1-2 pitch, a hanging slider. That's about it. It's on me. I take full responsibility for that."
Pivetta has struck out 66 and walked 17 in 48 2/3 innings in his last 10 starts. He struck out 12 and walked two Friday. He got 16 swings and misses. The stuff is there, but Pivetta has been making too many mistakes. He has allowed 11 home runs in that span. He went 4-3 with a 3.26 ERA in his first 11 starts this season. He allowed just five homers in 58 innings in that stretch.
"I think the swing and miss gives us a lot of promise for what could happen if he's able to limit even a little bit of the damage," Kapler said. "If he limits the damage, he's a top of the rotation, stud pitcher. We still haven't quite figured that out as a group. I think it's all of our responsibility, not just Nick's, but myself, our pitching group, our catchers and Nick himself, to figure out how he can take off the way we know he can and the way we believe he can. We have a ton of confidence in him."
But can the Phillies afford to work through those issues while they are in the thick of a pennant race? The Phillies maintained a 2 1/2-game lead over the Braves in the National League East following Atlanta's loss to the Dodgers.
"Yes, because we've seen it this year," Kapler said. "It's not like we have to dream on something. We've seen stretches of dominance this year, and we know it's still in there because he's had flashes of dominance in each game that he's pitches. It's not dreaming on something. It's been there in our recent memory and it will be there in short order."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera hit a two-run home run to right-center field in the third inning to tie the game at 2. It was Herrera's 19th homer of the season, which ranks second on the Phillies.
After Rhys Hoskins singled to score a run with one out in the fifth inning, the Phillies did not get another hit until Scott Kingery singled with one out in the ninth.
HE SAID IT
"He's a dynamic offensive performer. Has been a dynamic offensive performer for quite some time. For me personally, I'm quite excited, because I like the way he conducts an at-bat. He fits right in to our style of offense. He grinds pitchers down. He waits for a pitch to drive and he finds gaps and can hit the ball out of the ballpark. Fits right in with the Phillies' style offense we've been playing and why we were able to knock another pitcher out of the fifth inning today. Just add another bat when he's in the lineup. When he comes off the bench to get a big pinch-hit for us, we know he's going to give us a quality at-bat. It's especially encouraging and our group is excited by it." -- Kapler, on Cabrera
Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez (7-8, 4.05 ERA) starts Saturday night at 6:40 p.m. ET against the Reds in the midst of their four-game series at Great American Ball Park. Velasquez is 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA in his past six starts. He has allowed only 15 hits in 34 innings in that span. He last appeared in a game Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park, when he pitched a scoreless inning in relief in a 16-inning victory over the Dodgers. He will be matched up against right-hander Matt Harvey for the Reds.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.