Phillies-Nationals: What you need to know

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Phillies-Nationals: What you need to know

Phillies (13-14) at Nationals (17-9)1:05 p.m. on CSN
The Phillies dropped the first game of their series with the Nationals, 4-3, after Wilson Ramos hit a bases-loaded single with two outs in the 11th inning on Friday night. Here's what you need to know for Saturday afternoon's matchup.

Starting pitchers
The Phils look to get back on track behind Vance Worley (2-1, 1.97 ERA). The right-hander has allowed one run or less in four of his last five outings.

In his last start, Worley tossed seven innings of one-run ball, but didn't factor in the decision of Monday's 6-4 win over the Cubs.

The Nationals send Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.82 ERA) to the hill on Saturday. The lefty allowed two runs over six innings in the Nationals' 2-0 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday.

Gonzalez has yet to surrender a run at home over 14 innings. He's allowed just six baserunners and has struck out 15 in two starts at "Natitude Park."

Head-to-head
The Phillies have posted a 79-50 record against the Nats since they relocated to Washington in 2005. However, the Nats currently have a six-game winning streak over the Phils.

Worley split two starts against Washington in 2011. Both his starts came at Citizens Bank Park, where he allowed five runs in 12 innings.

Prior to his loss on Sunday, Gonzalez struck out 21 batters over 20 innings in his previous three starts. He has never faced the Phillies.

Previous games
The Nationals came back from a two-run deficit with single runs in the sixth and eighth innings to push Friday's game into extra innings.

Kyle Kendrick went five innings and left with a 3-1 lead before the Phils' bullpen blew a late lead for the second time in the last three games. Kendrick allowed seven hits and walked two.

For Washington, Stephen Strasburg gave up three hits over six innings, but two of them were home runs. He struck out four Phillies, a season-low in six starts.

Who's hot
Manager Charlie Manuel, sort of. The Phils' skipper was ejected in the bottom of the first inning of Friday's loss after an unusual non-call.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz is red-hot for the Phils. He clubbed a solo shot to dead center in the fifth inning Friday. Ruiz is 13 for 28 from the plate in his last seven games. Outfielder Hunter Pence also homered off of Strasburg in the Phils' loss.
Lineup
1) Jimmy Rollins, SS
2) Placido Polanco, 3B
3) Shane Victorino, CF
4) Hunter Pence, RF
5) Carlos Ruiz, C
6) Ty Wigginton, 1B
7) John Mayberry, LF
8) Freddy Galvis, 2B
9) Vance Worley, SP
Sound off
How concerned are you with the Phillies' bullpen?

E-mail Tim Riday at triday@comcastsportsnet.com

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.