Phillies' Herrera on rise entering White Sox series
PHILADELPHIA — Before a 10-game stretch against National League East division foes closes out the season, the Philadelphia Phillies first have to deal with their two final interleague games.
The Chicago White Sox visit to end a nine-game home stand for the Phillies (67-83). Philadelphia is 4-3 during the stretch at Citizens Bank Park after a 5-4 loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday.
The White Sox (72-78) come into the City of Brotherly Love off an 8-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Monday, the third consecutive defeat in a four-game series that was the opening part of a nine-game road trip.
With both teams all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the remaining two weeks of the 2016 season become about evaluating some young talent in the system as well as seeing who is worth keeping around for 2017.
Though the made his first All-Star Game appearance this year, Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera had been in a slump most of the second half, batting just .240 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 52 games from July 15-Sept. 11.
However, in the past six games heading into the White Sox series, he was on a tear, batting .500 (12-for-24) with four doubles and a home run, putting together a 1.312 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin noticed an uptick in Herrera's production with the arrival of rookie outfielder Roman Quinn, who is hitting .219 (7-for-32) in eight games since his call-up earlier in the month.
“I think the minute Quinn got here, (Herrera) started turning it on,” Mackanin said. “He saw Quinn and said, 'Wait a minute, I'm better than this guy. I better get back on track.'
“Everyone needs a little boost now and then, and I think that might have something to do with it. Nevertheless, he looks much better than he did the for the past five weeks.”
Another player the Phillies' front office is still evaluating is the Tuesday night starter, rookie Jake Thompson, who has had an uneven first eight starts at the major league level.
After putting together an 11-5 record with a 2.50 ERA in 21 starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley before his August call-up, the right-hander is 2-5 with a 5.64 ERA since donning the Phillies uniform for the first time.
His past four starts have been much more impressive, though. In that span, he owns a 2.49 ERA (25 1/3 innings, seven earned runs) despite a 1-3 record, though his strikeout-to-walk ratio (17-to-9) needs some work.
Chicago manager Robin Ventura counters with a veteran making his 350th career appearance (349th start), right-hander James Shields.
Shields (5-17, 5.84 ERA) posted double-digit wins in every season from 2007-15 but has struggled mightily since a June trade that brought him from the San Diego Padres to the White Sox. He is 3-10 with a 6.94 ERA for his new team.
His last time out, he held the Cleveland Indians to one run on three hits in a no-decision Thursday.
“His curveball was the best I've seen it since he's been here,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “It had something to it. There was some depth to it. It was sharp, he was able to use it a couple times to get out of some binds.”
Indians manager Terry Francona added, “He did well enough with his off-speed to kind of keep us off balance. The one thing he does is he competes.”
Shields faced the Phillies on Aug. 24, and he gave up four runs in six innings during a 5-3 loss. Thompson opposed the White Sox the previous day, and he gave up seven runs in five innings during a 9-1 defeat.