Phillies-Brewers 5 things: Trying to avoid yet another sweep

Phillies-Brewers 5 things: Trying to avoid yet another sweep

Phillies (29-60) at Brewers (52-41)
2:10 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Thanks to a late home run off Joaquin Benoit, the Phillies lost their second straight game to the Milwaukee Brewers coming out of the All-Star break. With Jeremy Hellickson on the hill, the team will look to avoid yet another sweep. Matt Garza takes the ball for the Brewers.

Here are five things to know for the series finale.

1. The question of trade value
Last season, Hellickson took a 3.70 ERA and an expiring contract into the trade deadline, only to find himself a Phillie in August. In much of the same situation a year later, the 30-year-old starter is hardly a stranger to his circumstances.

The veteran has been traded twice before and it would make plenty of sense for him to be shipped out against before the calendar flips to August. The Phils aren't going to offer him the qualifying offer again and he'll surely want to pursue a long-term deal if one is out there this winter. 

The issue for the Phillies? Hellickson hasn't been quite as effective this season. He had a brilliant April followed by one of the worst months of his career in May. He's been so-so since in seven starts, pitching to a 4.54 ERA over his last 41 2/3 innings. Furthermore, he's allowed 20 home runs, on pace to go well beyond his career-high 25 allowed. He's striking out the fewest batters of his career while his walk and hit rates have both gone up from last season. 

Any return for the righty would be preferable for the Phillies, who would want his rotation spot to give their younger arms a chance this fall. One would have assumed a similar logic last season. However, at the same time, the Phillies' young starters struggled to stay healthy at the end of last year, so maybe it makes sense to keep a veteran who can at least absorb innings. It's unclear which contenders, if any, would want Hellickson as a back-of-the-rotation piece.

2. Going Garza
It's been nine years since a 24-year-old Matt Garza started against the Phillies in the World Series. The former Tampa Bay Ray is still pitching in the last year of his four-year deal with the Brewers at 33. 

He's no longer quite the same pitcher, the one that inspired promise and led the Cubs to trade a young Chris Archer and other prospects for his services. But unlike the last couple seasons, the right-hander is a more than respectable pitcher, throwing above-average innings for the NL Central leaders.

Through 13 starts in 2017, Garza is 4-4 with a 3.98 ERA over 72 1/3 innings. He's struck out just 51 but dished out just 19 free passes and brought his WHIP down to 1.272 after it exceeded 1.5 the last two seasons. The veteran earned a four-year, $50 million contract during the 2013-14 offseason and hasn't quite lived up to it. However, it's tough to argue that if he helped Milwaukee to its second ever division crown, he'd be a lot closer to being worth the investment.

These days, his fastball averages just 91.7 mph. He still utilizes his four-seamer and sinker close to 60 percent of the time, mixing in his go-to offspeed pitch, a slider, along with a curveball and changeup. In that way, he's still the same pitcher as always. He's coming off 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Orioles on July 5.

In eight career non-playoff starts dating back to 2009, Garza is 2-2 with a 2.32 ERA over 54 1/3 innings against the Phillies. He hasn't faced them since 2015, when he allowed four runs on 10 hits in six innings. Four current Phils have two or more hits against him: Freddy Galvis (3), Andres Blanco, Cameron Rupp and Odubel Herrera. All but Blanco have a double against him.

3. The road ahead
The Phillies close out their brief post-All Star break road trip with a three-game set in Miami, the site of this year's ASG. The Phils are 2-3 against the Marlins this season with each team undefeated at home. The Fish swept a three-game set at Marlins Park on May 29-31. 

After that, the Phillies return to Citizens Bank Park for a 10-game homestand, one of three home stretches of that length remaining this year. This homestand, which will bring the Brewers, Astros and Braves to CBP, will take the Phillies up to the trade deadline. It will be their longest homestand of the year to date. In their two 10-game stretches at CBP in 2016, the Phillies went 5-5 and 3-7, respectively.

By the time the Phillies head to the West Coast on Aug. 1, they'll have a much different roster than they do now. Vince Velasquez will likely be back in the rotation. Same goes for Cesar Hernandez, who is expected back Monday in Miami. Pat Neshek and others will be wearing new uniforms after the deadline, opening up spots for players currently in the minors. 

Over the next few weeks, or months for that matter, wins and losses won't mean a ton for a squad that is 24.5 back in the division. However, for a team in the midst of a rebuild, some signs of hope, whether continued success for Aaron Nola/Altherr or a rebound from a player like Herrera or Maikel Franco, would be huge for a team on its way to a sixth straight season outside the playoffs.

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Herrera has a home run in three consecutive games. On Saturday, he put together his first game with multiple extra-base hits since June 22

Brewers: Last night, Travis Shaw hit his 20th home run in his 340th plate appearance. In 530 PAs last year, Shaw hit 16 home runs. 

5. This and that
• The Phillies have been swept seven times this season. They were swept eight times in all of 2016. They haven't been swept at Miller Park since a four-game series on June 29-July 2, 2015. Matt Garza started the series finale of that series.

• The Phillies have not been more than 31 games under .500 since the final day of the 2015 season. 

• Nola in his last five starts: 1.78 ERA in 35 1/3 innings, 41 strikeouts, five quality starts. 

• Phillies leadoff hitters have produced a .686 OPS, seventh worst in baseball.

MLB Notes: Twins-Braves, Royals-Padres make trades

usa-jaime-garcia.jpg
USA Today Images

MLB Notes: Twins-Braves, Royals-Padres make trades

MINNEAPOLIS -- Hoping to bolster their rotation for a playoff run, the Minnesota Twins have acquired veteran left-handed pitcher Jaime García, catcher Anthony Recker and cash considerations from the Atlanta Braves for minor league right-hander Huascar Ynoa.

The 31-year-old García is 66-52 with a 3.65 ERA and 808 strikeouts in 176 appearances, mostly with St. Louis (2008, 2010-16). He missed the 2009 MLB season following Tommy John surgery.

Garcia is 4-7 with a 4.30 ERA, 41 walks and 85 strikeouts in 18 starts for the Braves this year.

While Garcia's numbers don't jump off the page, the Twins were in need of a veteran arm to put into a rotation that has been largely disappointing behind the top two starters, Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios (see full story).

Royals: Cahill, Maurer, Buchter acquired from Padres
DETROIT -- The contending Kansas City Royals have acquired three pitchers from the San Diego Padres, getting starter Trevor Cahill, closer Brandon Maurer and reliever Ryan Buchter.

The Royals sent pitchers Matt Strahm and Travis Wood, minor league infielder Esteury Ruiz and cash to San Diego on Monday. The deal came one week before the nonwaiver trade deadline.

Kansas City began the day tied with Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot and 1 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland. The Royals had been looking to bolster their rotation and bullpen, and did it with one swap.

Cahill was 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 11 starts for the Padres. The 29-year-old right-hander was an All-Star with Oakland in 2010.

Maurer is 20-for-23 on save tries, and 1-4 with a 5.72 ERA. The 27-year-old righty began his big league career with Seattle in 2013 as a starter.

Buchter is 3-3 with one save and a 3.05 ERA in 42 games. The 30-year-old lefty pitched 67 times for the Padres last year.

Dodgers: Kershaw lost to DL with back injury
LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw is headed to the disabled list for the second straight summer because of a back injury.

A year after missing 2 1/2 months with a herniated disk in his lower back, Kershaw was pulled from a start Sunday against Atlanta because of lower back tightness. The Los Angeles Dodgers ace exited after two innings in a 5-4, 10-inning victory.

It leaves baseball's top team without its best pitcher. The Dodgers lead the majors with a 68-31 record and are atop the NL West standings by 10 games.

Kershaw was set to meet with a back specialist Sunday evening for tests, although manager Dave Roberts was already sure that Kershaw would be placed on the 10-day DL (see full story).

Mets: Wheeler put on DL because of arm trouble
NEW YORK -- The New York Mets have put pitcher Zack Wheeler on the 10-day disabled list because of a stress reaction in his right arm.

The Mets didn't provide a timetable for Wheeler's return. He was on the DL last month with biceps tendinitis and has struggled in four starts since his return.

The team recalled righty Tyler Pill from Triple-A Las Vegas before Monday night's game at San Diego.

Wheeler joins Mets starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman on the disabled list. Steven Matz and Seth Lugo recently came off the DL and returned to the rotation.

The 27-year-old Wheeler didn't pitch in the majors the past two years after having Tommy John surgery in 2015. He is 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA in 17 starts.

Tonight's lineup: Nick Williams moves up to 3rd for hot-hitting Phillies

Tonight's lineup: Nick Williams moves up to 3rd for hot-hitting Phillies

The hot-hitting Phillies made some minor tweaks to their lineup for Monday's series opener against the American League-beset Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park.

Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera and Tommy Joseph all move up in the lineup with Howie Kendrick getting the day off. Williams will hit third, Herrera moves up to fifth and Joseph will hit sixth. Andrew Knapp is catching and batting seventh. Cameron Perkins is playing left field and batting eighth.

Williams is hitting .309 with four home runs, four doubles, two triples and 15 RBIs in 19 games since being called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley on June 30. He had a two-run homer and another RBI in the Phillies' 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday afternoon.

After his 1 for 3 day with an RBI on Sunday, Herrera moves up spot. The centerfielder is hitting .331 with a major-league leading 19 doubles since June 3.

Joseph was 0 for 4 on Sunday with two strikeouts. He hit seventh against the Brewers but will hit sixth tonight.

Vince Velasquez (2-5, 5.14)  is on the mound for the Phillies. He'll be opposed by Brad Peacock (8-1, 2.49).

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Odubel Herrera, CF
6. Tommy Joseph, 1B
7. Andrew Knapp, C
8. Cameron Perkins, LF
9. Vince Velasquez, SP

For more on tonight's game, read Corey Seidman's game notes.