Phillies-Marlins: 5 things you need to know

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Phillies-Marlins: 5 things you need to know

The Phillies matched a season-high on Tuesday with their third straight win of the season, and despite losing Cliff Lee to the 15-day DL shortly after the game, they'll look to build some momentum Wednesday in Miami.

Here are five bullet points for the middle game of the series at 7:05 p.m. on CSN:

Rollins on fire
Jimmy Rollins' go-ahead, two-run homer Tuesday night was his sixth of the season, matching his total from 2013.

It took Rollins 421 fewer plate appearances this season to reach HR No. 6 than it did last season. He's hitting .268/.366/.450 with six homers, 20 RBIs, five doubles, two triples and six steals.

Rollins' .816 OPS ranks third among all major-league shortstops, behind only Troy Tulowitzki and Alexei Ramirez.

Since moving into the leadoff spot, Rollins has reached base in eight of 18 plate appearances.

Can Kendrick win?
Kyle Kendrick hasn't won a game since Aug. 6, 2013, 15 starts ago. Over that span he's 0-9 with a 4.83 ERA.

But those ugly numbers do not tell the whole story. Kendrick has pitched well this year, making five quality starts in eight tries.

Kendrick has finished seven innings in half of his starts this year and only twice has he allowed more than three runs in a game.

His last time out against the Reds, Kendrick allowed a first-inning, three-run homer to Devin Mesoraco and then retired 19 of the next 21 batters he faced.

These Marlins haven't done much against Kendrick, and that surprisingly includes Giancarlo Stanton, who is just 3 for 21 against him with eight strikeouts.

In his only career start at spacious Marlins Park, Kendrick pitched seven shutout innings.

Eovaldi is evolving
Marlins 24-year-old fireballer Nate Eovaldi has emerged this season. In nine starts, he is 2-2 with a 3.62 ERA, but before being lit up in San Francisco last Thursday his ERA was 2.86.

Eovaldi has 50 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 54 2/3 innings. He's also induced groundballs at a 53 percent rate. Those peripherals forecast a very productive season from Eovaldi and are very similar to the ones put up by A.J. Burnett in 2012 and 2013.

Eovaldi throws a fastball that averages 94 to 98 mph and a slider in the high-80s. On rare occasions he'll throw a curveball and changeup.

Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz have each hit three doubles against Eovaldi, who was dealt from the Dodgers to the Marlins in 2012 for Hanley Ramirez.

Diekman's found it
Jake Diekman pitched two crucial scoreless innings after Burnett was forced out of Tuesday's game early for a pinch-hitter.

Diekman has not allowed a run in May. His line for the month: 10 2/3 innings, four hits, no runs, four walks, 14 strikeouts.

The Phillies' bullpen has been seeking stability all season and it appears the club has found it with Diekman, who can be used in a multitude of ways. Diekman has 34 strikeouts and just nine walks in 23 innings this season.

This and that
• The Phillies are now 10-7 in one-run games.

• At 12-10, the Phils have the best road record of any NL East team.

• The Phillies will need innings out of Kendrick tonight. Jonathan Papelbon and Diekman each threw 27 pitches and Mike Adams threw 25. You'd figure that at least one and maybe two of them would be unavailable for the middle game of the series.

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Phillies have a history of adding players in the Rule 5 draft. The annual event, designed to prevent teams from stockpiling minor-league talent without giving it a shot in the majors, has netted the Phillies players such as Dave Hollins, Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera over the years.

The year’s Rule 5 draft will be held Thursday morning at the conclusion of the winter meetings, but it’s highly unlikely that the Phillies will be active. After adding 11 prospects to their 40-man roster two weeks ago, the Phillies are simply out of room. Selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft would first require the Phils to cut a player loose and that did not seem to be the plan as the sun set Wednesday.

While an addition is unlikely, there’s a strong possibility that the Phils will lose a player or two in the draft. Outfielder Andrew Pullin, a 2012 draft pick, is the likeliest to go. He hit .322 with a .885 OPS between Single A and Double A in 2016 and a number of teams are buzzing about him. A late-season elbow injury prevented Pullin from playing in the Arizona Fall League and factored into the Phillies’ decision to leave him unprotected.

If a team rolls the dice on Pullin, it must keep him in the majors all season or offer him back to the Phillies.

Other players who could go include first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi, outfielder Carlos Tocci and pitchers Miguel Nunez and Hoby Milner.

All quiet for now
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spent Wednesday meeting with agents and representatives from other clubs.

“Nothing is hot at the moment,” he said late in the day.

Klentak has brought back starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, added relievers Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek and traded for outfielder Howie Kendrick this offseason. The biggest remaining issue/question on his plate is whether to add a veteran hitter in a corner outfield spot or keep the pathway open for young players such as Roman Quinn and eventually Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams. 

“Successfully balancing the present and the future is the single greatest challenge that a baseball operations department faces,” Klentak said. “We’ve talked about it all offseason. The decisions that we are making right now about giving playing time to a young player that has cut his teeth in Triple A and needs that opportunity to take the next step as opposed to a shorter-term solution from the outside — that’s one of the main challenges that we’ve run into this offseason.”

While it’s uncertain whether the Phils will add a hitter, they most surely will make other roster tweaks as the winter moves on. They are likely to fill their backup catcher’s spot in-house (see story), but could add a utility infielder and more bullpen depth on minor-league contracts.

“I think there will probably be another move or two before we get to Clearwater,” Klentak said. “Who and when remains to be seen.”

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.