It's Time for the Phillies to Give Younger Middle Relief Arms a Shot

It's Time for the Phillies to Give Younger Middle Relief Arms a Shot

You could've pinned one of the losses that made for the Reds series sweep of the Phillies last month on John Lannan's quad, which helped Cincy plate six runs in 1 2/3 innings 12 hours before it put him on the DL. As for the other two, those were on Jeremy Horst and Phillippe Aumont.

In Game 1, Horst let two baserunners reach in three at-bats before intentionally walking the bases loaded in the eighth and handing it over to Mike Adams. The next batter, Brandon Phillips, smeared a two RBI single for the go-ahead runs in a 4-2 loss.

In Game 2, Aumont's command and a Ben Revere fielding error loaded the bases in straight at-bats for Zack Cosart's walk-off single for a 1-0 loss, like, 10 minutes into the pick-up of a rain-suspended game.

Both Horst and Aumont opened their innings with clean slates.

As for the finale, Raul Valdes didn't help much by serving five in 3 1/3.

Add in Chad Durbin, and you've got the four parts of the Phillies bullpen needing remodeling.

And even if it's coincidence that the Phillies are about to play these same Reds again, in a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park, proposing a roster redress isn't about three games. It's about the past 42 and next 120.

They don't hold leads. They don't stop routs. They don't strand runners. They don't throw strikes.

Makes it hard to justify not giving some younger talent a look-see, doesn't it?

Durbin's guaranteed contract, reputation for being a slow starter, and history with the organization make it tough to fathom them cutting him loose now. But if they did, would you blame them?

Valdes has no such short list of reasons to hang onto. He has options. He's also here to eat innings and make spot starts, both of which Mike Stutes can do. Drop one outing from his time at Triple-A this year, and Stutes has a 2.13 ERA. He's been scoreless in his last 10 1/3 spanning seven appearances, four of which he's gone five outs or more in. He was also a starter his first two years in the minors.

That brings up Aumont. Hopes that he'll be able to harness his 97 m.p.h. fastball and rectify what seems to be the biggest mistake in recent organizational history figure to be his sticking points. It also doesn't help that Jake Diekman, the only other guy in the system who can sniff high-90s, is having the same issue controlling it, walking 10.90 batters per nine for a 6.75 ERA at Triple-A this year.

But expanding the rotation to five starters again on May 21 necessitates at least one roster move, and if Valdes is ever to go, you'd have to think it'd be to call up Stutes. If they stick with Horst, it's probably because they have more patience than they can afford, and probably means they'll stick with Aumont, too.

That figures to leave Justin De Fratus the odd man out, which is a shame.

How it should be: Cloyd, Stutes, De Fratus, Aumont.

How it likely will be: Cloyd, and everything it's been.

Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

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Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

Temple head coach Fran Dunphy had a feeling some bad news would come regarding guard Trey Lowe's status for the coming season. On Friday, it was made official.

Lowe, a freshman who suffered serious upper-body injuries in a single-car crash in his native New Jersey last February, will miss all of the 2016-17 season and take a medical redshirt as he continues to recover, Dunphy announced on Friday.

"We all feel that this is in the best interest for Trey, as a person, a basketball player and a student," Dunphy said in a statement released by the university. "We feel at this time that concentrating on his rehabilitation this year will give him the best chance to come back strong and healthy for 2017-18. Trey will still be a big part of the team during this redshirt year, while continuing to work with our medical and strength team in preparation for his full return to action.”

Lowe was just starting to come into his own at the collegiate level around the time of the unfortunate accident. In a Feb. 17 game at the Liacouras Center against then-No.1 and eventual national champion Villanova, Lowe dropped a career-high 21 points. Though the Owls lost, 83-67, Lowe had made an impact and earned the trust of Dunphy, which isn't easy to do as a freshman.

A three-star recruit, Lowe played in all 28 games, including five starts, prior to his injury and averaged 4.8 points and 1.8 assists in 12.3 minutes per game. He would be a redshirt sophomore if he's ready to return for the 2017-18 season.

The absence of Lowe will leave the Owls particularly thin at guard this year. You may recall senior point guard Josh Brown, who was to be counted on as the Owls' leader this season, tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. His status for this season is still unknown as he continues to rehab from his injury.

Junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who averaged 11 points per game last season, is Temple's leading returning scorer.

The onus to produce at guard will be placed on redshirt senior Daniel Dingle and sophomore Shizz Alston, Jr. True freshmen Quinton Rose and Alani Moore will also likely have to chip in.

They have just over a month to get ready. Temple hosts La Salle in both schools' season opener on Friday, Nov. 11 at the Liacouras Center.

Sixers' Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

Sixers' Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

As the Sixers get two bigs back from injury, another goes down.

First overall pick Ben Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot on Friday. Simmons rolled his right ankle during the team’s final training camp scrimmage at Stockton University.

Simmons underwent an X-ray and MRI on his right foot and ankle. Sixers head physician Dr. Christopher Dodson and Sixers chief medical officer and co-chief of sports medicine orthopedics at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Glashow reviewed the images.

Simmons’ timetable to return is to be determined. The Sixers are considering further medical evaluation and treatment options. 

Landing the number one pick and selecting Simmons was the highlight of the Sixers’ next chapter. They were supposed to be healthy this time around as they entered a new phase following a 10-72 season. 

The news of the fracture adds to years of injury-related setbacks. Nerlens Noel missed his entire rookie season rehabbing from an ACL injury. After undergoing two foot injuries in as many years, the 2014 third overall pick Joel Embiid is slated to make his NBA debut Oct. 4 against the Celtics in preseason action. Jahlil Okafor is also expected to play next Tuesday for the first time since his season-ending knee surgery in March. 

The Sixers drafted Simmons to become a focal point of their system. At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, he is a point-forward with the potential to change the look of a lineup. During training camp Brown experimented with multiple combinations, including playing Simmons at the point, shooting guard and small forward. 

Brown called the two-three combination of Simmons and Dario Saric “6-10, do-alls” (see story)

Simmons, 20, impressed his teammates during camp. In just four days of practices, it was easy for them to see how Simmons would improve the Sixers. 

“He’s really physical,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s just a big presence. When he pushes the ball, you can feel it. He makes you want to go with him. … He’s so fast and he’s so big.” 

Said Nerlens Noel, “He just plays basketball the right way. When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."

The Sixers will be faced with filling a role they haven’t actually had yet. They had gameplans of how to utilize Simmons, but they were implemented only in training camp. The Sixers have a frontcourt logjam which will allow them to plug in other players at the power forward spot. They also can fill his experimented role on the wings with traditional shooters. But his absence will eliminate versatile lineups in which players are essentially “positionless,” a Warriors-style of play that causes mismatches of size and skills. 

Even though the Sixers have an abundance of bigs, Embiid and Okafor will be monitored for minutes at the start of the season. Throw in Simmons’ injury and this creates opportunities for other frontcourt players such as Richaun Holmes and Elton Brand. With Simmons absence, there also could be more minutes for Saric to play his natural position at power forward. 

Simmons wasn’t letting himself get too far ahead as he entered his first NBA season. He has been taking each day one at a time with an excitement of the newness of his rookie year.

“I think it’s still surreal for me,” Simmons said on Media Day. “I think it’ll finally hit me once I step on the court matched up against OKC the first game.”

Now it remains to be seen when Simmons will play his first game.