Aaron Heilman

Phillies add Aaron Heilman on minor league deal

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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.

Pete Mackanin on Aaron Nola: “He’s a little confused right now”

Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Nola pitches to a Milwaukee Brewers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
AP Photo/Tom Lynn
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Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola looked like one of the best pitchers in the National League through the first two months of the season, but things have completely collapsed for him over his last four starts. He command abandoned him yet again Sunday against the Giants, as he was chased after giving up five runs on 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings. He also hit three batters, the third of which forced in a run. There’s no way he did that on purpose, but Johnny Cueto later retaliated by hitting Maikel Franco with a pitch. Fun times.

After posting a 2.65 ERA through his first 12 starts this season, Nola owns a 15.23 ERA (22 runs in 13 innings) over his last four starts. He hasn’t made it through four innings in any of them. His ERA now sits at 4.45 for the year.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin acknowledged to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that they are “concerned,” but they intend to have him pitch through his struggles. He’s still lined up to make his next scheduled start Saturday against the Royals. For now, at least.

“He’s a little confused right now,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s approaching his first full year in the big leagues so he’s going to have some adversity. He probably hasn’t had any in quite a while, if at all. You can see his confidence is shaken. But he’s smart and a competitor. He’ll bounce back at some point.”

There’s been no talk of any physical issue, so Nola is mostly chalking it up to his mechanics being out of whack. The 23-year-old made a quick rise through the minors after being selected No. 7 overall in 2014, so the first taste of failure has surely rattled his confidence a bit too. The Phillies are counting on him to be a key part of their resurgence, so getting it figured out should be a top priority.

Video: Phillies get a double play thanks to an illegal slide by Kevin Pillar

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 13: Kevin Pillar #11 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after striking out in the first inning during MLB game action against the New York Yankees on April 13, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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The Blue Jays led the Phillies 4-0 and were threatening more runs with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the third inning against Aaron Nola. Darwin Barney hit what appeared to be an inning-ending double play to shortstop Freddy Galvis, who flipped to second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez leaped to avoid an incoming Kevin Pillar, making a weak and late throw to first base. A run scored and Barney was safe at first base.

The Phillies challenged the call, however, and the ruling was overturned, giving the Phillies an inning-ending double play after all.

Here’s the slide:

Here’s another video with a better angle. And here’s a good screen capture:

pillarslide

Baseball’s new slide rule, Rule 6.01(j), a bona fide slide is defined as:

making contact with the ground before reaching the base, being able to and attempting to reach the base with a hand or foot, being able to and attempting to remain on the base at the completion of the slide (except at home plate) and not changing his path for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

One can make a tenuous claim that Pillar attempted to stay on the base. Pillar certainly curled his body up in an attempt to interfere with Hernandez.

Many will complain about baseball becoming wimpy with rules designed to protect the fielders. I, for one, think the sport is headed in the right direction when defenseless infielders don’t have to worry about 200-plus pounds of human flesh and bone speeding towards them in an attempt to prevent a double play. The less we have incidents like the ones that involved Ruben Tejada, Alex Avila, and Buster Posey, the better.