Instant Replay: Phillies 5, Rockies 4

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Instant Replay: Phillies 5, Rockies 4

BOX SCORE

The Phillies beat the Colorado Rockies, 5-4, on Monday night. It was the first time the Phils have won consecutive games in a month.

John Mayberry Jr. keyed the offense with a three-run homer and three young pitchers -- Ethan Martin, Justin De Fratus and Jake Diekman -- all delivered strong performances.

The Phils are 2-2 under interim manager Ryne Sandberg.

Starting pitching report
Rookie right-hander Martin pitched six scoreless innings before tiring in the seventh and allowing two runs. Martin gave up four hits, including a homer. He walked two and struck out six.

Colorado’s Jeff Manship allowed six hits, including two home runs, and five runs over five innings.

Bullpen report
De Fratus and Diekman both registered two outs with two runners on base.

Diekman struck out Todd Helton and Nolan Arenado with two on in the eighth after the Rockies had cut the Phils’ lead to one. Diekman threw nine pitches to two batters and seven were strikes. He fanned Helton on three pitches and finished off Arenado with a fastball that hit 99 mph on the stadium radar gun.

Luis Garcia allowed two runs out of the Phillies’ bullpen as Colorado made it a one-run game in the eighth.

Jonathan Papelbon had his first save since July 11.

At the plate
Carlos Ruiz batted in the No. 2 hole and followed up Sunday’s four-hit game with a double and a solo homer. Mayberry keyed a four-run fourth inning with a three-run homer.

Troy Tulowitzki smacked his 21st homer for the Rockies. Wilin Rosario had a two-run single in the eighth.

In the field
Casper Wells started in right field and made a nice sliding catch on a sinking liner by Corey Dickerson to end the top of the sixth.

Health check
Roy Halladay will make a minor-league rehab start for Single A Lakewood on Tuesday night. Depending on how it goes, it could be his final rehab start before returning to the Phillies.

Transaction
To make room for Tyler Cloyd, who will start Tuesday against the Rockies (see story), the Phillies optioned Raul Valdes to Triple A Lehigh Valley after Monday's win.

Up next
Cloyd (2-2, 3.41) comes up from Triple A to face Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (12-6, 3.22) on Tuesday night.

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The likelihood of the Phillies going with a rookie backup catcher in 2017 increased dramatically when the Miami Marlins signed free agent A.J. Ellis on Wednesday.

Ellis spent the final month of the 2016 season with the Phillies after coming over from the Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade. Ellis, 35, got high marks for his work with the Phillies’ young pitching staff and the Phils had some interest in bringing him back. The interest, however, was complicated by a tight 40-man roster, which already includes three catchers — starter Cameron Rupp and minor-league prospects Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp.

With Ellis out of the picture, the Phillies will likely use either Alfaro or Knapp as the backup catcher in 2017. Knapp spent a full year at Triple A in 2016 and could end up being the guy as Alfaro moves to Triple A for another year of seasoning.

General manager Matt Klentak spoke earlier this week of the possibility of going with a rookie at backup catcher.

“Andrew Knapp just finished his age 25 season in Triple A,” Klentak said. “He has a full year of at-bats in Triple A. At some point for both he and Alfaro, we’re going to have to find out what those guys can do at the big-league level. During the 2017 season, we’ll have to find out — not just about those two guys — but others.”

It’s not all that surprising that Ellis ended up with the Marlins on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. He played for Marlins manager Don Mattingly during the latter’s time as manager of the Dodgers.

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday night he'd still like another veteran bat in addition to Howie Kendrick, though he understands the front office is conscious of not blocking young prospects.

The Phillies need offense and the clearest area to upgrade is an outfield corner. But don't expect to see the Phils go after Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders or anyone of that ilk, because those players will require multi-year guarantees and everyday playing time. If you sign one of them, you're basically telling two of Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr that they won't be needed much the next three years. 

That would be unwise. The whole point of rebuilding is filling a roster with young, inexpensive talent and then eventually supplementing that core with established players who fit. Look at what the Cubs did. Look at what the Astros are doing now, adding older players like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick to fill in the holes around Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

For that reason, a player like Seth Smith would be a worthwhile addition for the Phillies.

Smith, 34, makes $7 million in 2017, the final year of his contract with the Mariners. When Mackanin discusses "professional hitters," Smith is the type. He has one of the better batting eyes in baseball, chasing about eight percent fewer pitches outside the strike zone the last three years than the league average.

He's a career .261/.344/.447 hitter who averages 29 doubles, 16 homers, 56 walks and 102 strikeouts per 162 games.

The left-handed Smith can play both outfield corners, and he's always been very effective against right-handed pitching. He has a .272 career batting average with an .827 OPS against righties compared to .202 with a .594 OPS vs. lefties. 

Smith is a fit for the Phillies for several reasons. They need more offense from the corner outfield. Logically, that outfielder should be a left-handed hitter because the Phillies' projected middle of the order has four right-handed bats in Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp and Kendrick.

Furthermore, Smith, unlike Saunders, for example, does not require everyday playing time. Smith shouldn't start against lefties. That would provide opportunities to Altherr and Quinn in 2017, while protecting against ineffectiveness from Altherr and another injury to Quinn.

And lastly, Smith is not going to cost anything meaningful via trade. He's a 34-year-old platoon player in the final year of his deal. The Phillies could likely land him for an insignificant prospect, perhaps a pitcher who had a high strikeout rate last season in the low levels of the minor leagues. 

For Seattle, it would be more of a salary dump. The Mariners' 2016 payroll is already $20 million more than it was last year, and per reports, they seem willing to spend to improve their starting rotation.

Smith is not a game-changer, that's not the argument here. He's not J.D. Martinez, a much bigger name and better player. Martinez would also fit the Phillies as a one-year option, and they'd likely be interested in keeping him around longer if they could acquire him. But any trade with the Tigers for Martinez wouldn't be nearly as painless for the Phils as acquiring Smith. 

So perhaps more than other available outfielders, Smith would be an offensive upgrade and a player who fits the Phillies' goal of improving without stunting a top prospect's growth.