ATLANTA -- Roy Halladay’s much-anticipated first start of the season was interestingly poor.
He piled up a bunch of strikeouts, but failed to make it through the fourth inning as the Phillies suffered a 9-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on Wednesday night.
The Phillies have started the season 0-2. They are 6-14 the last two seasons against the Braves. They will look to salvage a win in the series finale Thursday night before Friday afternoon’s home opener.
Starting pitching report
Halladay had one of the oddest pitching lines you’ll see. In 3 1/3 innings, he was tagged for six hits and five runs while walking three. He recorded just 10 outs, but nine of them were strikeouts. Many of those strikeouts came on breaking balls or changeups. Two of Halladay’s fastballs ended up over the wall on homers. Halladay’s fastball sat between 88 and 90 mph on the stadium radar gun. He touched 92 early in the game.
Halladay’s command, a major issue in spring training, continued to be poor. He needed 95 pitches to get 10 outs. Only 55 of those pitches were strikes. Halladay went to three-ball counts on eight of 19 hitters.
Over his last five starts against Atlanta, Halladay has an 11.57 ERA (27 earned runs in 21 innings) and has surrendered eight homers.
Atlanta lefty Paul Maholm pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the win. Maholm gave up six hits, walked one and struck out six.
Mike Adams made his Phillies’ debut with a scoreless inning and two strikeouts. Jonathan Papelbon got an inning of work and gave up a two-run home run to Jason Heyward.
At the plate
The Phillies were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position before Chase Utley got them on the board with a two-run double to right in the seventh. The Phils finished 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Justin Upton gave the Braves a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer off Halladay in the first. Rookie Evan Gattis homered against Halladay in the fourth. Freddie Freeman had a three-run double against reliever Raul Valdes in the fourth.
The Braves have hit five home runs in taking the first two games of the series. Freeman has six RBIs in the two games.
New kid in town
The Phils have a new player (see story).
Cliff Lee makes his season debut against Atlanta right-hander Kris Medlen in the series finale Thursday night.
WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.
The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.
Benoit began the 2016 season with the Mariners and had a 5.18 ERA in 26 games. He was traded to Toronto in July and gave up just one run in 23 2/3 innings over 25 games, but did not pitch in the postseason after suffering a torn calf muscle in late September.
The right-hander has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime 3.79 ERA in 712 games.
Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.
Benoit has mostly pitched in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could choose to trade Gomez or Neris.
Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.
The Phillies tendered contracts to three arbitration-eligible players on Friday night and set another free.
Reliever Jeanmar Gomez and infielders Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis were tendered contracts for the 2017 season while outfielder Cody Asche was let go after four seasons with the club.
The Phillies signaled their intention to let Asche go when they designated him for assignment, a move that removed him from the 40-man roster, on Friday afternoon. The club had the option of trading Asche — and likely had discussions with other clubs — but ultimately decided to non-tender him before the 8 p.m. deadline. The move made Asche a free agent.
The Phils had removed Asche from the 40-man roster to clear a spot for David Rollins, a left-handed reliever who was claimed off waivers from Texas on Friday (see story).
Galvis and Hernandez, the team’s regular shortstop and second baseman, respectively, were certain to receive contracts for 2017. Gomez was less certain. He saved 37 games for the Phils in 2016, but struggled badly late in the season.
Phillies officials will try to negotiate 2017 salaries with all three players. If an agreement cannot be reached with a player, an arbitration hearing will be held later in the winter to determine that player’s salary for the coming season.
Gomez made $1.4 million in 2016, Galvis $2 million and Hernandez $525,000. According to mlbtraderumors.com, Gomez projects to make $4.6 million in arbitration, Galvis $4.4 million and Hernandez $2.5 million.
The Phillies' roster is full at 40.