Looking to add depth to a bullpen that’s been hit hard by injuries this season, the Phillies signed Aaron Heilman to a minor league contract on Thursday, CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury reports. He’ll step into a Triple-A Lehigh Valley relief corps that just lost Jason Grilli to the Pirates.
Heilman was cut by the Diamondbacks after amassing a 6.81 ERA in 35 1/3 innings this season. The stats, however, say he wasn’t nearly that bad. He had 33 strikeouts versus just 11 walks, but he was doomed by giving up eight homers, which is twice as many as one would have expected based on his career rate.
Heilman’s velocity is down a bit this year, but he’s continued to get plenty of swings and misses. He’s still a decent enough bet as a sixth- and seventh-inning guy, and the Phillies might want to go ahead and release Danys Baez to make room for him after he gets a few innings under his belt.
Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr hit a ball about 200 feet but it turned into an inside-the-park grand slam against Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals on Friday evening. The Phillies loaded the bases on a walk by Brian Bogusevic, a single by Cameron Rupp, and a bunt single by Jerad Eickhoff. After Freddy Galvis popped out to center field, Altherr stepped to the plate.
Altherr hit a sinking liner right in front of center fielder Michael Taylor, who dove for it but cleanly missed it. The ball skipped towards the fence. Not only did all three runners on base score, but Altherr scored as well without a throw. As FOX Sports on Twitter notes, it’s the first inside-the-park grand slam since Randy Winn in 1999 against the Yankees as a member of the Devil Rays.
Altherr tacked on an outside-the-park solo home run in the fifth inning to boost the Phillies’ lead to 5-1. The outfielder, on the season, is hitting .238/.322/.514 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 121 plate appearances.
ESPN Stats & Info, citing the Elias Sports Bureau, notes that Altherr is the first to have an inside-the-park grand slam and an outside-the-park home run in the same game since 1987.
New team president Andy McPhail hasn’t decided on Ruben Amaro Jr.’s replacement as Phillies general manager yet, but he has decided that Pete Mackanin will stick around as manager.
Mackanin, who replaced Ryne Sandberg as manager in late June on an interim basis, has signed a contract extension for the 2016 season that also includes a team option for 2017.
Mackanin took over a team that was 26-48 under Sandberg and has managed them to a similar 30-46 record. Beginning in mid-July there was a month-long stretch in which the Phillies were playing really good baseball, but they’ve now lost 20 of their last 26 games to limp to the finish line.
As a 64-year-old baseball lifer Mackanin has played, coached, and managed for a bunch of different organizations, including three stints as an interim manager in the big leagues, but this is his first opportunity as a full-time MLB manager. MacPhail signing Mackanin to an extension before picking a new GM makes it pretty clear he’ll be truly calling the shots in the Phillies’ front office regardless of who’s chosen as Amaro’s replacement.