Anyone need a dog-sitter? Scott Kingery has a few days off, and he seemed to do a fine job watching Rhys Hoskins’ dog, Rookie on Monday night while Hoskins was in Washington crushing 37 homers in the Home Run Derby. Hoskins was impressive, but we think Rookie might have stolen the night. The festivities will continue Tuesday night with the All-Star Game, and perhaps Aaron Nola could enter early enough to face Manny Machado. It could be a nice way for the two to get acquainted.
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Imagining a Phillies lineup with Manny Machado
Gabe Kapler said he planned to spend his all-star break unwinding and joked about how he wished he could unplug for a day. But Kapler — who obsesses over information and preparation — undoubtedly won’t spend some of his four days off imagining what his lineup would look like if general manager Matt Klentak is able to land Manny Machado.
So let’s try to think like Kapler would. First, let me put away this Pizza City box and Mountain Dew. Sorry, Gabe. It’s cheat day. Now, we’re ready.
Machado said “his heart” is at playing shortstop, which would force Kapler to move Scott Kingery around the diamond the way he did earlier in the season. Machado, like Cesar Hernandez at second base, would play nearly every game. So Kingery would get most of his reps in the outfield or at third base, a spot that could open up this month if Maikel Franco is traded.
Kapler, ever since being hired, has stressed his preference for having his two best hitters batting second and fourth. Those spots primarily have been filled by Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins. It’s safe to assume that Machado, even though he has mostly batted third with Baltimore, would take over one of those two spots with the Phillies. Santana has struggled recently, and it wouldn’t hurt to bump him down and slide Machado into the four spot.
So here’s a look at a possible Phillies lineup with Machado: 1, Cesar Hernandez 2B; 2, Rhys Hoskins LF; 3, Odubel Herrera CF; 4, Manny Machado SS; 5, Carlos Santana 1B; 6, Maikel Franco/Scott Kingery 3B; 7, Nick Williams RF; 8, Jorge Alfaro C; 9, pitcher.
This lineup wouldn’t have righthanded or lefthanded hitters batting consecutively until the pitcher follows Alfaro. It seems practical. The only thing preventing it is a trade for Machado.
Manny Machado met with a large group of reporters Monday afternoon, and our Scott Lauber was in the pack. Machado said that life as a human trade rumor “is the worst” and that he hopes to be traded sooner than later. Lauber also checked in with Machado’s former teammate Nick Markakis and possible future teammate Aaron Nola to see what they thought of the hottest name on the trade market.
Rhys Hoskins hit 37 homers Monday night, but that wasn’t enough to reach the finals of the Home Run Derby. Hoskins put on a show but was outsted in the semis by Kyle Schwarber. Hoskins said he would definitely do the contest again if invited. And the way he hit Monday, it would be hard to imagine that he won’t be asked back.
Aaron Nola expects to pitch Tuesday night in the All-Star Game as the Phillies scheduled his final start of the first half to keep him eligible to pitch at Nationals Park. If Nola does, he might be able to face his college roommate, Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros. Bregman told our Scott Lauber what it was like to room with Nola at LSU.
Tonight: Aaron Nola participates in the All-Star Game, 8 p.m.
Tomorrow: The Phillies are off. Extra Innings is not.
Thursday: The Phillies are off, but we’re holding an event at Yards, 6:30 p.m.
Friday: Phillies start second half vs. Padres, 7:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
The Phillies are in first place, but there are still 67 games left in the season. They don’t fly pennants over Ashburn Alley for midseason division champions. So, what do the Phillies (53-42) need to do to reach the postseason?
Last year’s second National League wild-card team won 87 games. The Phillies can win 87 games by finishing their second-half schedule 34-33. FanGraphs projects the Nationals to win the division with 86 wins. The Phillies can finish their second-half slate with a less-than-.500 record and still have 86 wins. If the Phillies win in the second half at the same pace they did in the first, they’ll finish with 90 wins after going 37-30 in the second half. That sounds like a playoff team.
From the mailbag
Question: I think the weekend series really exemplifies why this might not be the moment to go for it on a short-term rental. They don’t hit a lick and adding Manny for two months still leaves seven other non-hitters. The pitching is great but unproven over the long-term. I worry that even one bad turn by the rotation and you are back in third having given up prospects for nothing or at best one playoff game on the road. I am pleased by how we are doing but to me this is all more tenuous than it may appear. Am I crazy? Bill D., email question.
Answer: Bill, I’m sorry but I can’t answer your question. I’m a sportswriter, not a therapist. But I don’t think your previous point is crazy. I can understand your frustration with the Phillies’ losing two of three — two of three! — to the lousy Marlins. They scored just two runs outside of a five-run inning Sunday. They made some mental mistakes and struggled.
But, remember that this series was the final three games of a four-city, 11-game road trip. They also were the final three games before the all-star break. Plus, the final game was started by Enyel De Los Santos instead of Zach Eflin. Perhaps the Phils were tired and looking ahead. A better measure of if the Phillies should make a move is the way they played in June, when they completed a 25-game stretch with a 14-11 record. The Phils then looked for real and finished the break in first place. The time is right for a Machado move.