The Phillies Really Need Cliff Lee to Pitch Deep Tonight in Boston

The Phillies Really Need Cliff Lee to Pitch Deep Tonight in Boston

Tyler Cloyd lasting only 2 1/3 innings in Monday night's 9-3 drubbing in Boston didn't happen in a vacuum. For only the second time all year, Charlie Manuel was forced to dip into his bullpen five times.

For the rest of the series, starting with Game 2 tonight, that figures to leave an already iffy bullpen frightfully shorthanded, putting something of a wrench in plans to win their third series in four and reach .500 for the first time since way back on Apr. 14.

Mike Stutes, Jeremy Horst, and Mike Adams each topped 30 pitches last night, likely leaving the Phillies with only one lefty, Antonio Bastardo, and only Chad Durbin for length. Bastardo's slugging percentage is actually 150 points higher vs. lefties, and Durbin's served five runs in his last four outings, none longer than three outs.

More relief staff woes: in his first appearance off the DL, Adams walked three for only the second time in his career and first since 2005.

The last time Manuel pitched five relievers, the Phillies went to extras in San Francisco on May 8, and none lasted more than an inning, so business was pretty much as usual for the series opener in Arizona.

Obviously not the case tonight.

And even though Boston starter Ryan Dempster's been, basically, a Dempster fire (zing!) of late, it's not like the Phillies did anything with the 10 baserunners Alfredo Aceves spotted them last night. Dempster (2-5, 4.63 ERA) hasn't made it to the sixth inning in three weeks, serving 15 runs and 20 hits in 12 2/3 innings over three starts since. He's walked 10 in his last two times out, and lasted only three frames yet surrendered four in his latest. Hasn’t been much better for him against the Phillies; he’s 1-4 with a 7.01 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Lee (5-2, 2.48 ERA) is rolling of late, working a 1.16 ERA in his last four starts after since being crushed in Cleveland, the latest of three-start stretch in which he went 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA. He's been scoreless in two of those four, going the distance in one in Miami last Wednesday, and the Phillies have won all four.

The longer Lee goes, the more the consequences of Cloyd's early exit are cushioned.

But twice in five starts at Fenway, Lee's last'ed fewer than six innings. He's 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA there lifetime. He's only gone eight or longer in back to back starts twice since August 2011, one of them the first week of 2013. Now's a good time for a third.

Phillies to add 3 players Friday; Nick Williams iffy for September call-up

Phillies to add 3 players Friday; Nick Williams iffy for September call-up

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he expects the club to add three players from the minors on Friday. Rosters expand on Thursday, an off day for the Phils.

“A couple of relievers, maybe a hitter,” Mackanin said before Wednesday night's game against Washington.

Mackanin would not name names because a lot can change in a day or two.

Darin Ruf seems to be a logical choice to be the hitter Mackanin referred to. He opened the season with the big club, but got just 57 at-bats and hit just .158 before being sent to Triple A when Tommy Joseph came up. Since going down, Ruf has hit .298 with 20 homers, 65 RBIs and a .895 OPS in 94 games for Lehigh Valley.

The Phillies will likely add two relievers to fortify the bullpen. Patrick Schuster, a lefty who was recently claimed off waivers from Oakland, could be a possibility. Colton Murray, Luis Garcia, Dalier Hinojosa and Elvis Araujo all could be possibilities, as well. All have spent time in the majors this season.

The Phils can’t completely pick over the Triple A roster because Lehigh Valley’s regular season runs through Monday and that club is likely to be in the International League playoffs.

Once Lehigh Valley’s season is over, more pitching could come. Starters David Buchanan and Phil Klein could be possibilities. Alec Asher, currently serving a suspension for testing positive for PEDs, is expected to be activated by the big club next week and could provide some innings to the starting rotation.

It’s unclear which prospects will come up. Catcher Jorge Alfaro seems to be a shoo-in after Double A Reading’s playoff run. Shortstop J.P. Crawford is not on the 40-man roster and does not need to be protected on it this winter. That could prevent him from coming up as the Phillies look to use the 40-man roster spot on a player that they could lose if not protected. Outfielder Nick Williams seemed to be a lock to come up a month ago, but his performance has slipped at Triple A in recent weeks and he now looks iffy.

Williams, like Alfaro, was acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade last summer. The lefty-hitting outfielder entered Wednesday hitting .265 with 12 homers, 62 RBIs and just a .294 on-base percentage in 119 games. He entered Wednesday hitting just .187 with a paltry .204 on-base percentage in the month of August. He had struck out 34 times and walked just once in 93 trips to the plate in August.

That certainly cannot sit well with a front office that puts a premium on players who "control the strike zone."

AFL rosters announced
The Phillies will send six players to the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. The group includes three pitchers, right-handed relievers Victor Arano and Miguel Nunez, and lefty starter Brandon Liebrandt, second baseman Scott Kingery, third baseman Mitch Walding, and outfielder Aaron Brown. Brown replaces outfielder Andrew Pullin, who recently went on the disabled list at Double A Reading with an elbow injury.

Sixers waive Carl Landry, Tibor Pleiss; officially sign Cat Barber

Sixers waive Carl Landry, Tibor Pleiss; officially sign Cat Barber

The Sixers made some roster tweaks on Wednesday night.

The team waived forward Carl Landry and center Tibor Pleiss, while officially announcing the signing of guard Anthony "Cat" Barber.

The Sixers were expected to cut Pleiss, who was acquired last Friday in a trade with the Jazz. On July 21, Barber and the Sixers reportedly agreed to a partially guaranteed deal.

Landy, a 32-year-old veteran, played one season with the Sixers after being acquired last summer in a trade with the Kings, a deal in which he was essentially a toss-in as it revolved around bringing Nik Stauskas to Philadelphia. Landry, who was under contract for 2016-17 at $6.75 million, battled injury to start 2015-16 and ended up playing in 36 games (12 starts), averaging 9.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Barber, 6-foot-3, 173 pounds, will fight for a roster spot at point guard during training camp. The 22-year-old went undrafted in June after declaring following his junior season at NC State in which he averaged 23.5 points per game, seventh most in the country and best in the ACC.

Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

usa-ben-simmons-summer-league.jpg

Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

Ben Simmons' fellow NBA rookies may not think too highly of him, but when the best basketball player on the planet is giving him pointers, he must be doing something right.

On Tuesday, a photo of Simmons and LeBron James dribbling side by side started making the rounds on Instagram. That's right. The Sixers' number-one overall draft pick and franchise savior is apparently training with the four-time league MVP and reigning world champion.

#Klutch @klutchsports

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Those workouts continued on Wednesday, when 12-time All-Star Dwayne Wade posted a photo of himself, Simmons and James, as well as Richard Jefferson and Jordan McRae. That's some good company for a first-year player to keep.

Good day of work!

A photo posted by dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) on

What does all of this mean for Simmons and the Sixers? Hard to say, but it can't be a bad thing that the rookie point-forward is spending time with a pair of future first-ballot Hall of Famers. Surely he must be learning something.

That's good news for the Sixers, who hope that Simmons can even come close to living up to the lofty comparisons some have drawn to James already.