Lannan injury adds to insult of Phils' recent play

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Lannan injury adds to insult of Phils' recent play

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ATLANTA -- John Lannan threw 45 pitches for the Phillies on Wednesday night. They may have been the last 45 pitches he ever throws for the ballclub.

Adding injury to the insult that has become this Phillies’ season, Lannan walked slowly off the mound in the second inning of his team’s 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves (see Instant Replay).

The loss gave the sad-sack Phillies a 5-19 record since the All-Star break and moved them a step closer to last place in the NL East. Only 6½ games separate them from last-place Miami. Don’t be surprised if the Phillies get there.

The Phils finished the road trip at 1-5. They went 1-8 on their previous road trip. The team returns home Friday night and the players might want to wear earplugs. The visitor that night will be the rampaging Los Angeles Dodgers. They entered Wednesday night with 39 wins in their previous 47 games. This might not be a fair fight.

Atlanta is just as hot as the Dodgers. Owners of the majors’ best record, the Braves are 19-4 over their last 22 games. Five of those wins have come against the Phillies.

The Braves took it to Lannan early Wednesday night. Jason Heyward hit the third pitch Lannan threw over the center-field wall and the Braves were off and running. In all, Lannan allowed five runs in 1 1/3 inning.

A left knee injury that has bothered Lannan for some time bounced him from the game in the second inning. The left-hander now looks at an uncertain future. He is under team control for next season, but it’s possible the team will pass on offering him salary arbitration and let him become a free agent.

“There are a lot of decisions to be made,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He is certainly somebody, like a lot of guys, that we’ll have to discuss. He’s pitched well at times. At times he’s struggled.”

Lannan, who missed time with a strained quadriceps tendon in the area of his left knee earlier this season, will be checked by doctors on Thursday. He could be facing season-ending surgery.

“I had the quad problem and some structural damage that happened over the years,” Lannan said. “The other thing, not the quad tendon, flared up before my last start. I tried to fight through it, but it was obviously affecting the way I was throwing.

“I want to get it fixed. That’s what it comes down to. Short-term that could create a lot of questions, but long-term, if I get it fixed, I feel I can have a decent career.”

Lannan signed a one-year deal worth $2.5 million with the Phillies in the offseason. He is 3-6 with a 5.33 ERA in 14 starts.

“It’s tough because I want to help the team,” he said. “I know what I can do when I’m healthy. I feel like I’m letting everyone down.”

Lannan has plenty of company in that area. Since the All-Star break, Phillies starting pitchers not named Cole Hamels have a combined ERA of 8.04.

Lannan goes down just as the Phillies are getting closer to getting two pitchers off the disabled list. Roy Halladay and Jonathan Pettibone will both make minor-league rehab starts on Thursday.

Halladay will probably make at least one other rehab start and could return to the rotation during the final week of August.

Down 5-0 after two innings, the Phillies got little going against Atlanta’s Brandon Beachy, who allowed just two runs over six innings.

Some of the Phillies' youngsters looked good. Domonic Brown singled, doubled and smacked his 27th homer. Darin Ruf homered and got a couple good breaks on fly balls to right field. Cody Asche made a couple of nice plays at third base.

Other than that, there’s not much to feel good about with this team.

“It’s tough,” Michael Young said. “There’s no way around that. As a player, there’s two directions you can go: You can pack it in or you can keep fighting. At that point, it comes down to pride as a player. You keep fighting -- scratch and claw and do anything you can to help the team win.”

Young said the mood of the team is down.

“But it should be down,” he said. “You’re not supposed to lose in the big leagues, especially with this organization. We’re not supposed to lose. At the same time, you should feel bad after a loss. But when you get to the ballpark the next day, it’s a new opportunity to show what you’re made of.”

Phillies recall Jake Thompson from Triple A, option Ricardo Pinto to Lehigh Valley

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Phillies recall Jake Thompson from Triple A, option Ricardo Pinto to Lehigh Valley

After Monday night's rain-soaked blowout loss, the Phillies' bullpen seems to be a bit depleted.

With that in mind, the Phillies have recalled pitcher Jake Thompson from Triple A and optioned reliever Ricardo Pinto to Lehigh Valley.

After a lengthy rain delay cut short Vince Velasquez's start, the Phils' bullpen was charged with six innings of work in the 13-4 loss. Pinto, responsible for five of the runs, tossed 1 1/3 innings as play resumed in the fourth inning. 

He may not be down for long, though, as the Phils have an off day Thursday to recover.

Thompson seems like a peculiar choice to call up. He's struggled mightily this year in Lehigh Valley. The 23-year-old who came over in the Cole Hamels trade, is 4-11 with a 5.36 ERA. He's given up 107 hits in 94 innings pitched, as well as 36 walks on the year — one less than he gave up in 129 2/3 innings in 2016.

However, Thompson is already on the 40-man roster and has not pitched since going seven strong innings of two-run ball on July 20. 

Tonight's lineup: Phillies showcasing Howie Kendrick in cleanup spot

Tonight's lineup: Phillies showcasing Howie Kendrick in cleanup spot

With less than a week to go before the trade deadline, the Phillies are putting Howie Kendrick in prime position to show off his skillset to a contender.

After sitting out last night's 14-3 loss, Kendrick returns to the lineup, batting cleanup and playing left field. In four games since returning from a hamstring injury, Kendrick has picked up where he left off, hitting .364 with two RBIs. Overall, Kendrick has appeared in just 37 games for the Phillies in 2017, but has been exceptional when healthy. 

Although he may not hit for power, his .350 batting average and ability to play multiple positions in the infield and outfield should be enough to interest teams. 

Cesar Hernandez will again lead off vs. the Astros. Much like Kendrick, Hernandez has had a strong return from the DL, hitting .321 with six RBIs in seven games since the All-Star break. He's also worked five walks compared to just three strikeouts. It's no surprise Hernandez's return has coincided with the Phillies' recent hot offensive stretch (see Game Notes)

Since the All-Star break, the Phillies have the seventh-most runs scored in all of baseball. Monday's loss ended a stretch of seven straight games of five or more runs scored for the Phillies — their longest single-season stretch since 2005.

Nick Williams will hit in the three-hole for the second straight game. Williams has sparked the Phils' stagnant offense since his arrival to the big leagues. In 20 MLB games, Williams is slashing .315/.350/.966 with four homers and 18 RBIs. 

Here is the Phillies lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Howie Kendrick, LF
5. Odubel Herrera, CF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Tommy Joseph, 1B
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Nick Pivetta, P

And for the Astros:
1. Jose Altuve, 2B
2. Josh Reddick, RF
3. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
4. Evan Gattis, C
5. Marwin Gonzalez, SS
6. Derek Fisher, CF
7. Alex Bregman, 3B
8. Norichika Aoki, LF
9. Charlie Morton, P