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.

Nerlens Noel posts thankful message to Philly fans

Nerlens Noel posts thankful message to Philly fans

Nerlens Noel's tenure in Philadelphia wasn't characterized by a whole lot of winning, but he'll still likely be remembered fondly by Sixers fans as being one of the original members of the process.

It's always an emotional time when a fan favorite departs for another city and a new team instead of seeing the championship aspirations many had for them in Philly through to fruition.

Noel posted an emotional message to his Twitter account on Thursday evening thanking the city of Philadelphia and its fans for the support they showed him through the ups and downs. 

The tweet contained the hashtag #Philly with a couple of exclamation points with a screenshot of a note that read:

What an exciting journey it’s been… To have such an amazing city embrace a kid from Boston coming out of Kentucky the way y’all did, is something I’ll truly never forget. And even through the ups and downs I never doubted the love here and that won’t change. Thank you to everybody that’s believed in me and supported through #TheProcess.

Love! -NN4

Noel was traded earlier in the day to the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut, and a conditional first round pick that will likely turn into two second round picks.

Bryan Colangelo will address the media on Friday morning to discuss his rationale behind moving Nerlens.

Related:

>>Every reason why the Nerlens Noel trade was unjustifiable 

>>Video: Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid say their goodbyes 

>>Joel Embiid reacts to Nerlens trade on Twitter: 'Trust it'

Joel Embiid: With Mavs, Nerlens Noel 'to get the chance he wanted'

Joel Embiid: With Mavs, Nerlens Noel 'to get the chance he wanted'

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Nerlens Noel emerged from the trainer’s room in a red sweatshirt and made his rounds of handshakes and hugs. It would be his last time in the Sixers' training complex as a member of the team, marking the end of the longest-tenured player’s stay in Philadelphia.

The Sixers traded Noel to the Mavericks on Thursday for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut and a top-18 protected first-round pick, according to a source (see story). He went through a portion of practice and was removed from it because of the deal. 

Noel’s now former teammates had a strong reaction to his departure. 

“Nerlens, he’s my guy,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s been my best friend since I got to Philly and I’m happy for him. He wants to start. I think in Dallas he’s going to get the chance to start and they’re going to re-sign him and they’re going to pay him a lot of money. Here it was kind of hard for him to start unless they were starting us together. But I’m happy for him. He’s going to get the chance he wanted.”

Noel’s future with the Sixers had been in question for two years as he enters restricted free agency this summer. Last season, the team struggled to find a way for him and Jahlil Okafor, both true centers, to play together. This season, the logjam was magnified when Embiid made his debut and took over the starting role. 

Noel candidly spoke out about the overcrowding at the beginning of the season but that situation was sidetracked when he missed 23 games because of injury. Once he returned, he quickly was on the short end of minutes. 

“I need to be on the court playing basketball,” Noel said in mid-December. “I think I’m too good to be playing eight minutes. Like, no, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. They need to figure this s--- out.”

The Sixers did figure out his role, later making him the defensive leader of the second unit as Okafor became the odd man out. The Sixers also considered the possibility of pairing Noel and Embiid in the starting lineup, as they did with Embiid and Okafor, but that experiment played out only over a handful of minutes. 

“I’m a little bit disappointed,” Embiid said of not playing more alongside Noel. “I thought we should have tried that a little bit more. I think the few times we did, it actually looked pretty good offensively and defensively.”

Of the bigs, it seemed like Okafor would be the one moved at the deadline after being held out of two games because of trade talks. In the end, it was Noel as the one to go on Thursday. 

“He’s one of my favorite players here,” Dario Saric said. “He’s always ready for jokes, he’s always ready to enjoy every moment.” 

Noel was the only player remaining from Brown’s first season as head coach with the Sixers. Brown could not comment on the Noel trade because it was not official at the time he addressed the media. 

Ilyasova leadership missed
On Wednesday night the Sixers dealt Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks for Tiago Splitter, a 2017 second-round pick and 2017 second-round pick swap rights. Even though Ilyasova played only 53 games for the Sixers, the veteran leader left his mark.

“He was a consummate pro,” Brown said. “He helped teach our young guys about that professionalism and helped contribute to our culture. He was good. You add those things up and we’re going to miss him.” 

Ilyasova’s departure affects those who played with him and behind him. Embiid credited Ilyasova for stretching the floor when they were in the starting lineup together. 

Saric, though, is perhaps the most impacted by the trade. Saric moved to the second unit when Ilyasova took over the starting role. He learned from his fellow international power forward, who helped him adjust to the NBA on and off the court. Saric is likely to get the nod as a starter. 

“For me, it’s hard,” Saric said. “I lost in Ersan some kind of mentor.” 

Brown also plans to play Robert Covington and Richaun Holmes at power forward at times, as well. If Covington slides over from small forward, Brown eyes Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Gerald Henderson and Nik Stauskas as players who could fill in at the three spot. 

The Sixers will resume activity on Friday morning for shootaround ahead of their game against the Wizards. They will approach that contest without familiar faces on the court. 

“I lost two good friends,” Saric said. “But this is the NBA. This is part of the business, part of the job.”