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Phils miss sweep, shot to trim NL East deficit

Confidence still high in starters after 5-inning outing by Pivetta
September 16, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies made a conscious decision in July to stick with the five starters in their rotation, despite some inexperience and inconsistencies, because they had the seventh-best ERA and third-best FIP in baseball through July 31. So they passed on Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and others.They will not

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies made a conscious decision in July to stick with the five starters in their rotation, despite some inexperience and inconsistencies, because they had the seventh-best ERA and third-best FIP in baseball through July 31. So they passed on Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and others.
They will not second-guess themselves.
"We're as confident in those guys and their futures today as we were on July 31," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said before Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. "There have been stretches in this season where every one of our starters has pitched like an ace, and there have been stretches this season where every one of them has not. We are still as confident as we've ever been in those guys, but it just so happens that in [August] a few of them hit a rut at the same time.

"But when you're making decisions, whether they're Trade Deadline decisions or free-agent signings or who to draft, you're making those decisions with the best information that you have at that moment. And I really can't go back and second-guess that because at the time we had five guys who were throwing the ball pretty well."
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta allowed three runs in five innings Sunday as the loss kept the Phillies 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Braves in the National League East and 5 1/2 games behind the Rockies for the second NL Wild Card. The Braves' magic number is eight.

The Phillies have 14 games to play.
Klentak discusses up-and-down season
Pivetta had "electric" stuff, according to Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. He got 13 swings and misses and struck out eight, but after a fielding miscue between Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford and second baseman Cesar Hernandez led to a Crawford throwing error in the fourth, Pivetta allowed a two-run home run to Peter O'Brien to hand the Marlins a 2-1 lead.
Pivetta allowed another run in the fourth to make it 3-1.
Pivetta is 7-13 with a 4.67 ERA in 31 appearances (30 starts). He went 4-3 with a 3.26 ERA in 11 starts through May. He is 2-10 with a 5.57 ERA in 19 starts since, but the Phillies point to his 3.42 xFIP, which ranks 17th out of 66 qualified starters, as just one reason to remain high on him.

"I think the only hard-hit ball that comes to mind for me was the home run to O'Brien," Kapler said. "Other than that, the curveball was working well, the fastball was working well, had a lot of life to it, obviously, getting tons of swings and misses on it. Looked like he was going to roll and just ran into a little bit of a buzzsaw there."
"It was a quality couple innings out of me," Pivetta said. "I had a curveball, so I just rolled with it."
The Phillies will pursue offense and look to upgrade their defense this offseason. But will they look to upgrade the rotation? Possibly. But in July, the Phillies wanted to avoid the starting-pitching market.

"These things, they're never that simple," Klentak said. "That's a very binary decision whether we're doing it or not. We ended up making three July trades [and] three more in August. We probably had several hundred conversations with dozens and dozens of prospective players, or teams about prospective players. It's not that we need something or don't need something. We're always looking for, where we can generate the biggest impact. At that moment we felt like our rotation was in good shape. Look, I know what some of the starters that were traded have done in the month of August and the first part of September. I've seen that, I'm not blind. But I know what our guys have done."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Hernandez hit a leadoff home run to right field in the first inning to make it 1-0. It was Hernandez's 13th homer of the season. It also was the sixth leadoff homer of his career, and his second leadoff homer this season against Marlins right-hander Jose Urena. Hernandez previously hit one against Urena on May 2.

SOUND SMART
Rhys Hoskins doubled in the sixth inning. He has 65 extra-base hits, which are the most by a Phillies player since Jayson Werth had 75 in 2010.
HE SAID IT
"I think he's looked really good coming out of the bullpen. I thought his fastball and his changeup combination played very well today, dropped some breaking balls in there for strikes early in counts. Got a nice short arm and sometimes hides the ball well, so he's got some deception. I think he could pitch out of the bullpen, he could also profile as a starter." -- Kapler, on Enyel De Los Santos pitching two scoreless innings in relief
UP NEXT
Phillies right-hander Jacob Arrieta (10-9, 3.66 ERA) faces Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler (11-7, 3.23) on Monday night in the series opener at Citizens Bank Park. Arrieta is 1-3 with a 5.85 ERA in six starts since pitching eight scoreless innings against the D-backs on Aug. 6 at Chase Field. First pitch is at 7:05 ET.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.