Phillies acquire RHP Clay Buchholz from Red Sox for 2B Josh Tobias

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Phillies acquire RHP Clay Buchholz from Red Sox for 2B Josh Tobias

The Phillies made another buy-low trade on Tuesday, acquiring right-handed starting pitcher Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox in exchange for minor-league 2B Josh Tobias.

Buchholz, 32, spent 10 seasons with Boston and made the AL All-Star team in 2010 and 2013. He's had some dominant years — 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in '10; 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in an injury-shortened '13 — but he's never been the same pitcher from one season to the next.

Buchholz makes $13.5 million in 2017, the final season of his contract.

"Clay had a very productive tenure with the Red Sox, and we look forward to seeing what he can do in a Phillies uniform," GM Matt Klentak said in a statement. "He is a welcome addition to our young starting rotation."

To make room on the 40-man roster for Buchholz, the Phillies designated third baseman Richie Shaffer for assignment.

The Buchholz trade is similar to last year's acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson. Both were once highly-touted young right-handers, both started their careers fast and both experienced growing pains.

As with Hellickson, the Phillies are buying low on Buchholz. He went 8-10 with a 4.78 ERA last season, pitching some of his games in relief for the first time since 2008. The Red Sox's rotation was crowded even before Chris Sale arrived and Buchholz was the odd man out. Buchholz did finish strong though, allowing just three runs in 19 innings in his last three starts.

It's hard to imagine the Phillies paying Buchholz $13.5 million to do anything but start, so their projected rotation (barring injury) would include Hellickson, Buchholz, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez. Aaron Nola is coming off an elbow injury and will have to show he's healthy enough to crack the opening day staff. Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin are also candidates.

The Phillies are gambling that the Buchholz they'll get is closer to the 2015 version. Just two seasons ago, he had a 3.26 ERA with 107 strikeouts and 23 walks in 113 1/3 innings before his year was cut short by an elbow injury.

Injuries have been common throughout Buchholz's career. In an eight-season span from 2008-15, he made seven trips to the disabled list for a right fingernail tear, a left hamstring strain, a stress fracture in his lower back, esophagitis, right shoulder bursits, a left knee hyperextension and the aforementioned elbow injury.

Buchholz's fastball has averaged about 92 mph since 2012, two ticks below where he was in 2010, his best year. He's changed his approach through the years to incorporate more cutters and fewer fastballs.

At his peak, Buchholz generated ground balls at better than a 50 percent rate. But his ground ball rate last season was just 41.2 percent, nearly seven percent below his career average.

With the Phils, Buchholz will get a chance to reestablish his value, a la Hellickson, as he heads into free agency. If he pitches well, perhaps he sticks.

If he fails, all it'll cost the Phillies is money they had available to spend and a minor leaguer at a position of depth.

Tobias was the Phillies' 10th-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Florida. He's hit .301 with an .801 OPS in two minor-league seasons, but his batting average dropped by 50 points as he made the jump from Single A Lakewood to High A Clearwater. 

The Phillies are not hurting for middle infielders. They have Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis at the major-league level, top prospect J.P. Crawford at Triple A, and second basemen Scott Kingery and Jesmuel Valentin rising through their system.

Phillies-Braves observations: Maikel Franco homers, Nick Pivetta tosses gem in final road game

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Phillies-Braves observations: Maikel Franco homers, Nick Pivetta tosses gem in final road game

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — Phillies rookie Nick Pivetta outpitched Atlanta Braves rookie Luiz Gohara Sunday afternoon as the Phils salvaged the final game of a three-game series with a 2-0 win at steamy SunTrust Park.
 
Maikel Franco smacked his 21st homer and Aaron Altherr had an RBI double for the Phillies' two runs.
 
Pivetta (7-10) pitched six shutout innings and the bullpen did the rest.
 
The Phillies ended up with a 13-6 record against Atlanta this season, their best against any team.
 
• Pivetta has mostly struggled in 25 starts in his rookie season, but he's also had some very nice outings where his potential has really shined. This was one of them. His last start, in which he gave up two runs in six innings against the Dodgers, was a good one, too. So the right-hander seems to be finishing on a high note. He will have one more start before the end of the season. In a perfect world, Pivetta would have gotten more time at Triple A this season, but there was a need in the majors. Ultimately, he should benefit from his baptism by fire.
 
• Atlanta lefty Gohara was very good in his fourth big-league start. The 21-year-old from Brazil gave up just five hits, walked two and struck out nine. The only run he gave up came on Franco's homer.
 
• Pivetta did a good job pitching around trouble. He got two outs in the second inning after an error by Franco put a runner on second. He also pitched around sloppy infield play in the fifth. In the sixth, Pivetta knocked down a ball back to the box but was unable to start a double play. He stayed calm and got two outs to get out of the inning.
 
• The Phillies took a 1-0 lead on a solo homer by Franco in the top of the fifth. Franco turned on a first-pitch changeup from Gohara. The pitch was on the inside half of the plate — right in Franco's happy zone. Franco pulls off pitches away in the zone, but he kills mistakes inside. Franco will work on this flaw in winter ball this season (see story).
 
• Altherr doubled home an important insurance run for the Phillies in the eighth inning. Altherr has 61 RBIs on the season and 27 have come in the seventh inning or later.
 
• Good job by the Phillies' bullpen. Edubray Ramos and Adam Morgan pitched scoreless ball in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Morgan has allowed just two runs over his last 24 innings. That covers 18 appearances since Aug. 2. Hector Neris survived two hits in the ninth and picked up the save. He is perfect on is last 18 chances since June 28.

• The Phillies' first two hits of the game were singles to right field and both runners, Cesar Hernandez and Jorge Alfaro, were out trying to stretch at second base. Braves rightfielder Nick Markakis made two perfect throws. Hernandez needed to come out of the box quicker.
 
• The Phillies have a 35-40 record at home. They will play their final six games of the season at home beginning Monday night with the opener of a three-game series against the NL East champion Washington Nationals. Aaron Nola (12-10, 3.56) pitches against right-hander A.J. Cole (2-5, 4.43) on Monday night. Jake Thompson (2-2, 4.14) opposes lefty Gio Gonzalez (15-7, 2.68) on Tuesday night. Mark Leiter Jr. (3-6, 4.69) and right-hander Tanner Roark (13-10, 4.41) close out the series Wednesday night.

Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for first time since Wednesday

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Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for first time since Wednesday

The juggling of Rhys Hoskins and Tommy Joseph at first base will continue today in Atlanta.

After only appearing as a pinch-hitter in last night's loss to the Braves, Joseph will draw back into the lineup at first for the Phillies in today's series finale. He'll bat fifth, right behind Hoskins, who's in the clean-up spot for manager Pete Mackanin.

With Hoskins, a natural first baseman who's been adjusting to left field, tearing up the scene, questions are aplenty over what the Phils plan to do at the position. Hoskins isn't going anywhere, obviously, so the questions center around Joseph. Any at-bats he gets this last week are important for his audition.

Joseph is hitting .240 on the season, but he does have 22 homers and 68 RBIs on the season.

Today marks Joseph's first start since Wednesday's win over the Dodgers. He appeared as a pinch-hitter Thursday and last night, but he did not play at all Friday.

Hoskins is back in left this afternoon. He's up to 18 homers and 41 RBIs on his short MLB season. He did contribute an RBI double in last night's loss.

J.P. Crawford, who's batting seventh, moves back to his natural shortstop spot today after playing second last night for Cesar Hernandez. Freddy Galvis will have the afternoon off. Crawford has a .245 average and 6 RBIs in 17 games with the big club.

Odubel Herrera has the afternoon off, as well.

Both teams' full lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, CF
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, LF
5. Tommy Joseph. !B
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. J.P. Crawford, SS
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Nick, Pivetta, SP

Braves
1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Johan Camargo, 2B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Kurt Suzuki, C
6. Rio Ruiz, 3B
7. Dansby Swanson, CF
8. Jace Pederson, LF
9. Luiz Gohara, SP