Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Marlins 0

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Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Marlins 0

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MIAMI – Delmon Young homered for the second time in as many games and Cliff Lee pitched his 12th career shutout in leading the Phillies to a 3-0 win over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night.

After a miserable showing behind Cole Hamels in the first game of the series, the Phillies won the next two to run their record to 23-24 heading into Friday night’s NL East clash with Washington.

This is the first time since April 15 that the Phils have been a game under .500. Over the last month, they had gotten to two games under .500 eight times. This was the first time they won the next game. The Phils haven’t been .500 since April 14.

The Phillies had 12 hits in the game. They had 15 in Tuesday night’s win.

Starting pitching report
Lee (5-2) pitched his first shutout since 2011. He allowed just three singles (two were infield hits), walked two and struck out five. Lee also had two hits.

Lee pitched out of big trouble in the second inning when he got Nick Green to ground into a 5-2-3 double play with the bases loaded.

Miami right-hander Kevin Slowey couldn’t answer the bell for the sixth inning because of a strained lat muscle. That was a break for the Phils because Slowey allowed just six hits and a run over five innings. He walked none and struck out six.

Slowey has been tough on the Phils this season. He’s given up just two runs in 17 1/3 innings against them.

At the plate
A day after hitting a 398-foot homer to left-center, Delmon Young smacked an 0-2 fastball 400 feet to left-center in the fourth inning for his third homer of the season. The solo shot gave the Phils a 1-0 lead.

The Phils had some two-out success in the sixth after Young reached base on an infield single. Domonic Brown followed with a triple to deep center and Freddy Galvis drove home Brown with a single. Galvis started his second straight game in place of Chase Utley.

Bullpen report
Lee completed the game in 115 pitches and gave the Phillies’ bullpen the night off.

Marlins reliever Wade LeBlanc allowed five hits and two runs in 1 2/3 innings.

In the field
Young had a terrific game in right field. He made a nice running catch on Marcell Ozuna’s sinking liner in the fourth and gunned down Chris Coghlan from near the warning track as Coghlan tried to advance to second on a fly ball in the fifth.

Injury report
Utley is headed for an MRI and possibly the disabled list. Mike Adams should be ready to go Tuesday or Wednesday. Details here (see story).

Transaction
After the game, the Phillies sent reliever Phillippe Aumont to Triple A so he could get more work. The Phillies will add a reliever before Friday night's game. It is believed they will recall right-hander Mike Stutes.

Up next
The Phillies are off Thursday. They open a three-game series against the Nationals in Washington on Friday night. Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 2.82) and Jordan Zimmerman (7-2, 1.62) will be the pitchers in that game.

Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.00) opposes Dan Haren (4-5, 5.54) on Saturday night. Cole Hamels (1-7, 4.45) pitches Sunday afternoon. The Nats have not named a starter for Sunday.

Tonight's lineup: Tommy Joseph's last start of the year?

Tonight's lineup: Tommy Joseph's last start of the year?

Tommy Joseph, who has been missing from the lineup lately, starts at first base and bats fourth tonight.

Joseph will most likely be making his final start of the season with Ryan Howard expected to start the final games of the season. Joseph is batting just .235 against the Braves this season, but does have two home runs. The rookie first baseman has 21 home runs and 15 doubles in 104 games during his first season in the majors. 

Howard will be playing what are almost definitely his final games in a Phillies uniform this weekend vs. the Mets.

Maikel Franco bats fifth and plays third base. Franco, who has been hot lately, has three home runs and is batting .320 over his last 25 at-bats. He will look to continue his success against the Braves, as five of his 25 home runs this season have come against them.

Cameron Rupp gets a day off behind the plate and will be replaced by veteran catcher A.J. Ellis. Ellis has exceeded expectations in a short sample since coming over in the Carlos Ruiz trade last month. Ellis is 8 for 28 with a home run and nine RBIs in 10 games with the Phils. He's batting .285, which is astronomically better than his paltry .194 mark with the Dodgers. 

Part of the reason for Ellis' start could be his history against Braves starter Josh Collmenter. He is 4 for 11 with two home runs and four walks against the former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher.

Here is tonight's lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Maikel Franco, 3B
6. Cody Asche, LF
7. A.J. Ellis, C
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P

And for the Braves:

1. Mallex Smith, CF
2. Dansby Swanson, SS
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Matt Kemp, LF
5. Nick Markakis, RF
6. Anthony Recker, C
7. Jace Peterson, 2B
8. Rio Ruiz, 3B
9. Josh Collmenter, P

Phillies MVP Jerad Eickhoff proved people wrong, changed expectations

Phillies MVP Jerad Eickhoff proved people wrong, changed expectations

It feels appropriate with the season coming to an end and the recent struggles of the Phillies' entire pitching staff to again point out how consistent Jerad Eickhoff has been in 2016.

Tuesday's rain delay likely cost him a shot at reaching 200 innings — he's sitting on 191⅓ with one start left — but his season has obviously been a success whether or not he reaches that mark. 

Some may argue Odubel Herrera has been the Phillies' MVP this season, but I'd go Eickhoff. Maybe that's just based on the inconsistencies of his rotation mates, but there's real value in a guy who gives you six quality innings each time out. Eickhoff this season was basically John Lackey — a reliable mid-rotation workhorse with solid but unspectacular numbers.

ESPN's longtime prospect analyst Keith Law mentioned Eickhoff this week in an Insider post looking at players he judged incorrectly. Eickhoff and Cubs Cy Young candidate Kyle Hendricks were the first two pitchers mentioned.

In his assessment of what went wrong with his initial evaluation of Eickhoff, Law wrote:

"I hadn't seen Eickhoff in the minors and, based on what I'd heard about him, had him as a back-end starter, saying he had the repertoire to start but giving him a limited, back-end ceiling. Eickhoff had a good curveball with Texas. But the Phillies' staff has encouraged him to throw it more often, and it's been a difference-making pitch for him. His curve accounted for 40 percent of his swings and misses in 2016, and it's one of the most effective curveballs in MLB right now; that pitch alone has made him more than just a back-end starter, and he has been the Phillies' most valuable starter this year. He is probably a league-average, No. 3 starter going forward with the arsenal he has — average fastball, plus curveball, inconsistent slider that flashes plus but on which he makes too many mistakes — and with 4-WAR potential, given his durability."

Eickhoff's curveball was what made a lot of us take notice late last season. He used it to shut down some good lineups in September, and he finished 2015 with back-to-back seven-inning, 10-strikeout games against the Nationals and Mets.

This season, he grew up. He incorporated the slider more and that led him out of an early-season funk. Early in the year, hitters were laying off his curveball and swinging at any fastball near the zone because it's a hittable pitch. Once he started showing another breaking ball, the game plan for the opposition became more complicated.

There was nothing fluky about Eickhoff's 2016 season. He'll enter the final day of the season 11-14 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. 

It's pretty startling to compare Eickhoff's numbers since joining the Phillies to Cole Hamels' with the Rangers. Have a look.

• Hamels with the Rangers (44 starts): 3.42 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 2.8 K/BB ratio, .244 opponents' batting average

• Eickhoff with the Phillies (40 starts): 3.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 3.9 K/BB ratio, .244 opponents' batting average

It's not an apples to apples comparison because Hamels has pitched about 40 more innings than Eickhoff in a tougher league and in a tougher ballpark. It doesn't mean that going forward they will be equals. It just means that over the last season and a half, their production has been close to equal.

Nobody would have expected a year ago that Eickhoff would be the best piece in that trade. But until Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams graduate to the majors in full-time roles and produce, Eickhoff will be the unexpected centerpiece of that blockbuster deal with the Rangers.

He's a walking example of solid scouting and even better player development by the Phillies.

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