Salvaging the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies season

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 15: Cameron Rupp
BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 15: Cameron Rupp /

The only way for the Philadelphia Phillies to salvage their 2017 season is to let the young minor league stars get major league reps.

The goal of hopefully reaching the .500 mark for the season set in the beginning of the year is unreachable at this point. The Philadelphia Phillies still hold the worst record in baseball, and they have a comfortable lead in last place. While all hope is lost and many are in despair, there is still one speck of hope left to salvage this season, and it’s in the hands of the front office. The young core of the franchise must get major league reps in order for the 2017 season to have any kind of meaning.

First off, it is clear that the Phillies management will not “rush” any of its players to get their feet wet in the major leagues, as evident in all-time Phillies legends, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Both Utley and Howard did not debut until they were 24 years old, and both not having their first full season until a few years after their debut.

However, it would seem logical that the only way for young players to build their skills and adjust to the major league game is purely through repetition. The young players need to see major league pitches and see major league plays, instead of perfecting the minor league game.

The first change comes behind the plate. This is Cameron Rupp’s third substantial season with the Philadelphia Phillies and his batting average is .239 in his big league career. At 28 years old, Rupp’s career does not look like he has the ability to be the everyday catcher. It seems that the Phillies agree with that as well, as they have Rupp split games with rookie, Andrew Knapp.

Knapp has held his own in his rookie season and he deserves to stick around, splitting time like he does now. However, Rupp should not be the catcher taking the other half of the reps; Jorge Alfaro should be the guy. Alfaro was a September call up last season and has spent his whole career in the minor leagues. As the Phillies fifth ranked prospect, according to, Alfaro should be getting major league reps.

More from Philadelphia Phillies

Now, Alfaro has only hit .240 in Triple-AAA with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, but the Phils are better off developing Alfaro’s game in the major leagues for the future, rather than wasting reps on Cameron Rupp, who does not have the capability of being the Phillies next everyday catcher.

The next change that must take place is the removal of Howie Kendrick from the outfield. Though Kendrick has produced a .340 batting average this year, his 34 year old body holds no use in what the Phillies are trying to achieve. He is holding a spot in left field, while Odubel Herrera is locked into center field for the next four years, as the front office is forced to play him to justify them paying Herrera a healthy sum of money.

This leaves Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams to split time in right field, when they both need to be on the field every night. Since Herrera isn’t going anywhere, Kendrick needs to be replaced by Williams in left, and have Altherr play right, so both of the young bats can continue to build on the growth and potential that they have already showcased.

Rhys Hoskins is another name that needs to see major league action very soon. He has torn up the International League with Triple-AAA Lehigh Valley, posting a .284 batting average with 24 home runs and 78 RBI’s in 102 games. Tommy Joseph is on the hot seat as this young star is clawing for a big league spot.

Joseph came in with the role of filling Ryan Howard’s shoes and has only put up a .255 batting average in his time with the Phillies. Joseph does hit for power, however, hitting 36 home runs in his 201 games in the big leagues, but considering how well Hoskins has been doing in Triple-AAA, it’s almost impossible to not want to bring him up right away.

The starting pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies has arguably been a mess. ERA’s are soaring past 4.00 and exceeding 5.00 in some cases. It’s hard to justify saying that these young pitchers need more starts and experience when every time they are thrown out there, they can not keep runners off the plate.

At this point, Aaron Nola is the only reliable starter, with a 3.17 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and just coming off of a six shutout inning outing against the Houston Astros with ten strikeouts. Next, Jeremy Hellickson has to stay in the rotation. Even though he is a free agent after this season and doesn’t help the building process, he provides enough innings for the Phils to have a chance at winning ball games with six major league seasons under his belt.

After Nola and Hellickson, there are many pitchers who just plain need starts and time to develop their big league game. Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Pivetta have had the most opportunity, and have the most promise. Eickhoff’s ERA is inflated because of the lack of run support from the offense, but that still is no excuse for an ERA of 4.71. He had a solid year in 2016, so his 2017 campaign can comfortably just be regarded as a fluke in his career.

Pivetta dominated in Triple-AAA, showing a 1.41 ERA in five starts before being called up to the major leagues. His ERA has not been anywhere near that for the Phillies, but his minor league numbers show promise and give him justification for getting major league time.

One pitcher that the Phillies are completely missing is Ben Lively. They only let Lively make seven starts before going back down to Triple-AAA, but while up, he had a 3.80 ERA, which is extremely better than what other pitchers have done with the team.

He quietly went back down to Triple-AAA where he has a 7-1 record with an ERA of 2.39 and a WHIP below 1.00. Lively must be called back up to the major leagues so he can perfect his game. He will not only be developing, but providing quality innings that will put the Phils in positions to win games.

Next: Philadelphia Phillies: Pat Neshek traded to Colorado Rockies

The 2017 Philadelphia Phillies season can be salvaged just by letting the minor league stars get major league reps and adjust to the game. It’s no wonder that Triple-AAA Lehigh Valley has a 64-40 record with all the potential they have on their roster. The smart thing for the Phillies front office to do, is to let the IronPigs share some of the talent with the big league ball club.