PHILLIES KEYS TO VICTORY OVER THE BRAVES
FRANCO NEEDS TO BECOME A FORCE: What do the Phillies really have in 3rd baseman Maikel Franco? Is he going to develop into a legitimate force in the middle of the lineup? A player who can produce what is expected in that role for a contender as both he and the team continue to mature? There is no doubt of his power. Franco is on pace to approach the 30-homer mark here in his age 23 season. But all of his slash line numbers are down from his rookie campaign a year ago. What the Phillies really need is for Franco to become more than a guy who gets hot now and then and bops a few balls over a few fences. They need him to be closer to the .280 hitter that he was last year, rather than the .260 hitter that he has been this season. If this is to be his typical type of season, then he may never be more than a contributing piece down the road. The answer could have huge ramifications for the club as it moves forward.
YOUNG STARTING PITCHER QUALITY: Nola has just one lone Quality Start over his last seven outings. Eickhoff has been knocked around in two of his last three. Velasquez has been a bright spot of late, getting through six innings in his last four consecutive starts. Reaching that point had become an issue for him over the previous two months. Each of those three needs to give the rotation a solid six inning performance on a more consistent basis.
HELLICKSON FINALE?: Saturday night could mark the right-handers final start in a Phillies uniform, as he has been the most discussed and rumored player with that Monday trade deadline looming. However, Matt Klentak will not simply give him away, supposedly wanting an organization’s ‘Top Five’ prospect in return. If he cannot get that price, you just might see Hellickson play out the year in a Phils uniform, and the team try to land draft pick compensation for losing him this coming off-season as a free agent. It would be nice to see JHell go out and put up a strong outing, and get some contender to come off a solid prospect.
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