Happy Memorial Day! I hope you’re enjoying your day off, or if you’re like me and you have to work, I hope you have plans to drink and grill up some encased meats later. But baseball never stops, so let’s get to the links.
Howie Kendrick will be activated Monday
Good news! Howie Kendrick, who has been out since mid-April with an oblique strain, will be activated today! He’s been in Lehigh Valley making rehab starts, but it’s time to bring him back up. He didn’t do great with the Iron Pigs: four games and 15 plate appearances resulted in two hits and one walk. That’s good for a .167 batting average, but it couldn’t matter less. He’s a major league hitter, and soon he’ll be facing major league pitching. But with Kendrick coming back up, that means someone on the roster will have to be sent down. And it’s...
Zach Eflin optioned to Triple-A
Oof. Yeah. This is somewhat surprising, since Eflin has spent a decent amount of time in the rotation between last year and this year, but sending him down is the right thing to do. His past three starts have been absolutely disastrous. How disastrous? Let’s review. He came into his start on May 17 with a 2.81 ERA, and left his start with a 4.25 ERA after giving up seven runs in four innings. On May 23 his ERA went up to 5.36 when he gave up eight runs over six innings. And yesterday, May 28, his ERA ballooned to 6.13 after allowing seven runs over five innings. That’s a 13.20 ERA over those three starts. Woof. Most concerning? He gave up no home runs in his May 17 start, but gave up three on May 23 and four on May 28. Yeah. Bad. So Eflin will go down, but we don’t know yet who they’ll bring up. There are two logical choices: Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively. Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal has come out strong for Ben Lively, and at this point, I can’t disagree. Why not give him a look?
Pete Mackanin called a team meeting, and Joaquin Benoit approves
Manager Pete Mackanin called a team meeting after Friday’s loss, and since they won on a walk-off on Saturday, it looks like it worked. (The Phillies lost on Sunday, but don’t focus on that.) Reliever Joaquin Benoit, who has been critical of Mack’s bullpen management in the past, was full of glowing words about his skipper’s meeting. Here’s what he told CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury:
"It always helps when the manager comes and talks about different situations and the things we need to do," said Benoit, a 39-year-old veteran in his 17th big-league season. "It always helps. It shows that everybody cares on the whole team and it's a wake-up call for everybody."
Benoit revealed an important detail about the meeting: Mack was giving out reminders and situational advice. There might have been yelling and strong words, but it’s comforting to me, someone who has been questioning Mack’s managerial acumen, that he focused on action items. That it wasn’t a “YOU GUYS SUCK” kind of meeting, but a “things have been bad, but I know you are capable of better, and here’s what I’m expecting of you” meeting. These guys are young, and that’s what they need: encouragement, and a promise from their manager that he believes in them and their talent.
Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp are wearing instructive wristbands
You know the sort of cheat-sheet wristbands that quarterbacks wear? Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp have started wearing them. They’re more common in college baseball, but I’ve seen a few catchers wearing them in the majors this year. Considering the issues the two of them have had calling games behind the plate, it makes sense. And without a veteran catcher to guide them, it’s a good idea. The Phillies’ plight of two-strike hits is the fault of both the catchers and pitchers, but everyone needs to be given the tools to succeed. And to his great credit, Cameron Rupp is all for it. In Todd Zolecki’s article for MLB.com, Rupp says using it isn’t “a knock on anybody,” and good on him for being open to it.
For further reading on the Phillies’ current issues at catcher, and how their lack of a veteran presence is affecting them, check out Meghan Montemurro’s recent article on that very subject.
Jim Bunning dies at 85
Former Phillies pitcher and ultraconservative senator Jim Bunning died over the weekend. I wrote up a short obituary in Sunday’s Say Hey, Baseball for SB Nation MLB’s main page (which focuses on his brief-but-important time in baseball’s labor movement and his subsequent heel-turn), but you can read a more comprehensive obit in the Inquirer, and ESPN’s obituary is also great. Read all three — in fact, read any obituary you can find of Bunning. The man was a talented pitcher, and important to the game of baseball, but he’s a complicated figure. His baseball legacy is secure, but he did everything in his power the moment he stopped playing to try and ruin it.
What I’m making for Memorial Day
Ending on Bunning’s death is kind of a downer, so I thought I’d share what I’m making for Memorial Day. I consider Memorial Day and July 4 as opportunities to try out bigger/fancier recipes that wouldn’t fit into my normal work week. We’re not allowed to have a grill on the deck of our apartment complex (damn Ohio regulations), so I decided to do a breakfast-for-dinner kind of thing: Monte Cristo Monkey Bread. We’ll also have beer, and the key lime cheesecake I made last week. What are you doing/making/eating for Memorial Day? Share in the comments below!