Game Chat: Tyler Cloyd and the Phillies Take On the Lowly Houston Astros

Game Chat: Tyler Cloyd and the Phillies Take On the Lowly Houston Astros

The streaking Phillies are in Houston tonight where they'll look to keep tightening that 3 game wild card gap when they take on the lowly Astros in the first of a four-game set. Tyler Cloyd (1-1, 4.24) has gone from a guy getting a meaningless cup of coffee audition to a pitcher thrown to the fire in the middle of a playoff hunt.

As Matt Gelb pointed out earlier in the day, the Phillies can limit Cloyd's exposure down the stretch due to a couple of off days on the schedule. If they so choose, the Phillies could only throw Cloyd two more times after tonight and that would be against the Mets next week and the Marlins at the end of the month.

Those could be three starts against middling teams that could really impact a season though.

And if there's pretty much any team in baseball you'd want the Phillies to face after winning seven straight it'd likely be these Houston Astros. They're just 45-98 on the season and have earned a bit of a reputation as an awful, awful baseball team. A fun game is to go look at their roster and try to see how many names you actually recognize.

8:05 start from Houston. St. Louis takes on the Dodgers in LA at 10:10 so the Phillies can make up ground on one of those teams. Pittsburgh has the night off.

Tonight's Lineup:

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."