Phillies-Reds 5 things: More rain as Phils go for series win

Phillies-Reds 5 things: More rain as Phils go for series win

Phillies at Reds
12:35 p.m. on CSN and streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app

Some game notes ahead of the Phillies' series finale with the Reds Thursday afternoon at Great American Ball Park:

1. Buchholz's debut
Longtime Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz makes his Phillies debut and first-ever start in the National League after a rough spring.

Buchholz, 32, had a 6.65 ERA in six spring starts, allowing five home runs in 21 2/3 innings.

Buchholz is a reclamation project for GM Matt Klentak and the Phillies. They acquired him in December for minor-league second baseman Josh Tobias, who was expendable with the organization deep in second basemen (Cesar Hernandez, Scott Kingery, Jesmuel Valentin, perhaps Freddy Galvis once J.P. Crawford is called up).

It was a move similar to the Phillies' acquisition last offseason of Jeremy Hellickson from the Diamondbacks. That moved worked out as Hellickson has been the most solid and consistent he's been since his first two years in Tampa. 

But there's more reason for skepticism with Buchholz, who has alternated good and bad seasons in each of the last six. He also had seven trips to the DL from 2008-15.

Buchholz's last successful season was 2015, when he went 7-7 with a 3.26 ERA, 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.8 walks in 18 starts with Boston. 

The Phillies are hoping he pitches well enough in the season's first two months to become an enticing trade candidate. If that doesn't work out, well, it's not like they're committed to him. Buchholz is due $13.5 million this season before reaching free agency. If he stumbles over the first two months and Jake Thompson pitches well at Triple A, you could see Thompson up to take his place.

Buchholz has a pretty diverse repertoire. He has a four-seam fastball (about 93 mph), cutter, curveball, changeup and sinker, and last season he threw each of those pitches between 16 and 25 percent of the time.

2. Searching for offense
The Phillies made left-hander Brandon Finnegan look like an All-Star Wednesday night. He allowed just one hit (in the first inning) over seven shutout innings and struck out nine. 

It's the second straight year Finnegan shut the Phillies down in Game No. 2 of the season. Last April 6, he also struck out nine while allowing two runs over six innings in a Reds win.

Three of the Phillies' four hits last night were infield hits, so there was next to no offense to speak of. With a much different looking lineup on getaway day -- Brock Stassi, Daniel Nava and Andrew Knapp are starting -- they're hoping to do enough at the plate to leave Cincinnati with a series win over the lowly Reds.

Will they respond?

The Phillies had six games like this last season with no runs and four or fewer hits. On four of the six occasions, they lost the next day, three of them by one run.

3. Fitting name
The Phillies face Reds rookie Rookie Davis. Yes, a rookie named Rookie. His real name is William Davis, but he's had the nickname from his father since birth.

Davis, 23, was one of four prospects the Reds acquired from the Yankees in December 2015 for Aroldis Chapman. 

The 6-foot-5 right-hander spent most of last season at Double A before making a handful of starts at Triple A. All told, he went 10-5 with a 3.82 ERA, 77 strikeouts and 37 walks in 125 innings.

Davis is a strike-thrower with a 93-to-95 mph fastball, a mid-70s curveball and low-80s changeup. He doesn't project to miss a ton of bats at the major-league level.

4. First start for Stassi and Knapp
Pete Mackanin had already planned to play Brock Stassi and Andrew Knapp Thursday before Wednesday's 2-0 loss, and the Phils are hoping the infusion of two rookies breathes some life into the lineup. Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp were a combined 1 for 15 with seven strikeouts in the first two games.

For Stassi, it's the culmination of a long journey to the majors that was well-documented locally and nationally over the last week. Some nerves will be there for the 27-year-old, but at least he shook some of that off in the season opener with a pinch-hit walk.

With the left-handed hitting Stassi and switch-hitting Knapp in the lineup, Maikel Franco is the only true right-handed hitter in the Phillies' lineup Thursday.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B (S)
2. Daniel Nava, LF (S)
3. Odubel Herrera, CF (L)
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, RF (L)
6. Andrew Knapp, C (S)
7. Brock Stassi, 1B (L)
8. Freddy Galvis, SS (S)
9. Clay Buchholz, P 

5. This and that
• After sitting through a rain delay last night, some more precipitation is in store for the Phillies and Reds Thursday. There is a 50 percent or better chance of rain through 5 p.m.

• Tommy Joseph sits after going 0 for 8 with five strikeouts in the first two games. Pitchers are usually ahead of hitters this early in the season, but Joseph also had difficulty catching up to fastballs at times last season. Mackanin isn't going to switch things up because of two games, but the situations bears watching. 

• How good has John Kruk been so far?

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick on Saturday night made his fourth rehab appearance in Triple A during Lehigh Valley's 13-1 rout of the Louisville Bats in Allentown.

Kendrick went 1 for 5 with a run scored and three strikeouts. He also grounded into a double play and left two runners in scoring position.

It was his second rehab game playing third base. He played third during his appearance in the IronPigs' 8-4 loss Thursday to the Indianapolis Indians. He was 0 for 1 in three plate appearances with a run scored and was hit by a pitch twice (see story).

The Phillies' plan for Kendrick was to have him play a minimum four games at Lehigh Valley. He played left field in two games and third base twice. Pete Mackanin said Wednesday that Kendrick would also get a game at first base but he hasn't gotten a game at first yet.

There is a chance Kendrick could be recalled Sunday before the Phillies’ series finale against the Cincinnati Reds depending on how he feels.

Kendrick has been sidelined since April 15 with an oblique strain. In 10 games before the injury, Kendrick went 13 for 39 (.333) with five extra-base hits and four walks while exclusively playing left field.

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

MIAMI -- Mike Trout hit his major league-leading 16th homer, and the Los Angeles Angels reached the .500 mark for the 12th time this season by beating Miami 5-2 Saturday.

Trout's first-inning homer into the beer garden in left field was estimated at 443 feet, which pleased a fair portion of the crowd at Marlins Park.

"Hate Fish Love Trout," read a sign held by an Angels fans.

J.C. Ramirez (5-3) limited Miami to an unearned run in seven innings and benefited from excellent defense. Bud Norris, who tweaked his right knee and left Friday's game after throwing only three pitches, gave up a homer to Marcell Ozuna in the ninth (see full recap).

Strasburg K's career-high 15, Nats down Padres 3-0
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg dominated San Diego with a career-high 15 strikeouts while allowing three hits over seven innings as the Washington Nationals beat the Padres 3-0 on Saturday.

Strasburg (6-1) singled and scored Washington's first run on Bryce Harper's RBI grounder in the third inning. Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer for the second consecutive game.

San Diego's lineup offered little resistance against Strasburg the day after Max Scherzer dominated the Padres with 13 strikeouts in Washington's 5-1 win.

Strasburg struck out the side in the third and sixth and had at least two in the first six innings.

The right-hander previously struck out 14 batters twice including his Major League debut on June 8, 2010. He set a personal best by setting down Franchy Cordero in the seventh (see full recap).

Yankees held hitless into 6th by Cotton, but beat A's 3-2
NEW YORK -- Oakland rookie Jharel Cotton held the Yankees hitless until Matt Holliday launched a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning that sent resurgent CC Sabathia and New York to a 3-2 victory Saturday.

Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was in the right spot for a pair of key catches to boost the AL East leaders, who won with just two hits.

Sabathia (5-2) has won three straight starts for the first time since April 2013. The 36-year-old lefty pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.

Dellin Betances escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth, an inning that included the ejections of A's hitter Jed Lowrie and manager Bob Melvin for arguing strike three calls. Betances closed for his fifth save.

Cotton (3-5) was promoted from Triple-A Nashville before the game. He began the season in the Athletics' rotation but was sent down to the minors May 11 to refine his game (see full recap).

Bautista hits 3-run HR, Blue Jays beat Rangers 3-1
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer that backed Marco Estrada, and the Toronto Blue Bays beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 Saturday and matched their longest winning streak this season at five.

Shin-soo Choo homered into the center-field party deck on the first pitch of the game from Marco Estrada, but Bautista hit a two-out drive in the fifth, his eighth home run in May after one in April.

Estrada (4-2) allowed four hits in six innings to win for the third time in four starts. Aaron Loup got one out in the seventh, Ryan Tepera finished the inning and Joe Smith worked the eighth. Roberto Osuna threw a perfect ninth for his ninth save, completing a six-hitter.

Darvish (5-3) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. He had been 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in six starts since losing April 18 at Oakland. Texas has lost five in a row for the first time this year (see full recap).