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What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday evening’s action

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Craig covered Wednesday’s afternoon action. I have your evening contests.

The NL East has been really interesting this season. It didn’t figure to be that way. Most pre-season prognostications had the Nationals battling it out with the Mets for NL East supremacy while the Braves and Phillies would fight to stay out of the cellar. The Marlins would float somewhere in between, in intra-division purgatory.

The Phillies beat the Marlins today 4-2 to improve to 24-17, moving into a first-place tie with the Nationals. As MLB.com’s Richard Justice points out, the Phillies didn’t accrue 24 wins until their 71st game last season. As of this writing, only the 27-10 Cubs have more wins in the National League than the Phillies do. Even more surprisingly, if the Mets beat the Nationals this evening, the Phillies will move into a tie for first place in the division with all of the day’s games completed. Excepting their Opening Day win against the Rangers in 2014 and their Opening Day win against the Pirates in 2012, the Phillies haven’t been in first place since the end of the 2011 regular season. That’s quite a turnaround for a rebuilding club.

We talked recently about being skeptical of the Phillies’ success thus far. The offense is anemic and their run differential thoroughly in the red. Even GM Matt Klentak knows the numbers don’t portend this kind of success over the span of the entire season, but the city of Philadelphia deserves to feel good about something. The Phillies are on the up and up and get to pick first in the draft next month, adding to an already stacked minor league system. The 76ers got the first overall pick in last night’s draft lottery, which will propel their rebuilding process. The Eagles picked second in the draft, grabbing quarterback Carson Wentz. Philly fandom, especially lately, has mostly been about the lovable losers, but the hope is that one of the four major sports teams in town can build a lovable winner sooner rather than later.

The Mets will fight the Nationals on the Phillies’ behalf tonight at 7:10 PM EDT at Citi Field. Gio Gonzalez starts for the Nats and Bartolo Colon for the Mets.

The rest of Wednesday night’s action…

Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Francisco Liriano), 7:05 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker) @ Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman), 7:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi) @ Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey), 7:07 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Mike Clevinger) @ Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Finnegan), 7:10 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (John Lackey) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson), 8:10 PM EDT

Houston Astros (Doug Fister) @ Chicago White Sox (Mat Latos), 8:10 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez), 8:15 PM EDT (Game Two)

Colorado Rockies (Chris Rusin) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 8:15 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Nathan Eovaldi) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Shelby Miller), 9:40 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Mike Bolsinger) @ Los Angeles Angels (Nick Tropeano), 10:05 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto) @ San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz), 10:10 PM EDT

Aaron Hicks would like to avoid Tommy John surgery

Aaron Hicks
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The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.

One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.

Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.

Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.