Rhys Hoskins made his third start of the season at first base for the Phillies on Friday night and helped the club post a rousing 14-2 win (see first take) with his team-leading 31st homer.
All but dead in the NL East race, the Phillies can afford to use the final 2½ weeks of the season to get a read on a handful of players heading into next season (see story).
It was interesting to see Hoskins at first base because it is his natural position and there has been some recent rumble that the Phillies could consider trading Carlos Santana in the offseason and moving Hoskins back to first base.
How would Hoskins feel about moving back to first base full time?
“Of course, I would like to go back there,” he said after the game. “I’ve played that position forever.
“But do I want to go back there? I don’t care. I honestly don’t. I told Gabe (Kapler) this from the get-go. As long as I get to hit, I don’t care where I play. I really don’t.”
So if Hoskins is back in left field next year?
“I don’t blink an eye,” he said.
An emerging leader
Yes, Hoskins is this team’s leader, but at age 25 and with only a year of big-league service time, he is still growing into the role. The best is yet to come. The team-first attitude displayed in the above comments is why he could someday be a special leader.
The Phillies snapped a five-game losing streak with an 18-hit attack that included five home runs. Kapler loaded the lineup with righty bats against lefty Wei-Yin Chen. That was a big reason for using Hoskins at first and Santana at third. It allowed for another righty bat, Aaron Altherr, in left field. He had his best night of the season with two homers, two singles, five RBIs and a great second-to-home dash to score a run in the fourth.
“Gabe wanted to get as many right-handed bats as possible in the lineup,” Hoskins said. “A lot of (using Hoskins at first) was to get Altherr in there. Kap played the right card.”
Return of the heat
Zach Eflin lasted just three innings and gave up six runs in his previous start against the Mets. He gave up a hit to Jay Bruce on a fastball in the second inning of that game then stayed away from his fastball and relied on his slider. That pitch was hit hard.
Eflin went back to featuring his hard, four-seam fastball in this game and pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball for the win. He got the fastball up to 96.8 mph.
“He looks best when he’s stepping on that four-seam fastball and utilizing it frequently,” Kapler said. “That’s the pitch that will make him great.”
Centerfielder Roman Quinn was back in the lineup, stealing playing time from inconsistent Odubel Herrera. Quinn’s broken toe is clearly feeling better. He used his outstanding speed to beat out a potential double-play ball that resulted in two runs. He also had an infield hit. And a home run. With 16 games left, he should get a lot of playing time as he auditions for a big role in 2019.
A sight of relief
Rookie Mitch Walding was hitless with 10 strikeouts in 14 at-bats with the big club this season. He won’t go hitless for the season, thanks to a two-run homer in the eighth inning.
So what that it came against Bryan Holaday, the Marlins’ backup catcher, on a 61-mph breaking ball? Walding is off the schneid.
“Probably one of the happiest moments I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.