We are back with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  Each week we take your questions and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in Tuesday afternoons to hear your questions on the air.

Do you think that the Phillies should have kept Rhys Hoskins?

In a word, no.  I think Phillies fans were excited by the recent controversial slide in which Rhys Hoskins got into it with Jeff McNeil and the New York Mets.  That was exciting.  But Hoskins moving on was a move that needed to happen for the good of the roster.

The Phillies have overall played good defense. Trea Turner perhaps is the one example of someone off to a tough defensive start.  But the exclusive play of Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter and Bryce Harper at first base has allowed the likes of Johan Rojas, Cristian Pache, and Whit Merrifield to play the outfield.

Harper at first is a big improvement. Schwarber not in the outfield is a big improvement.  And with a few of their early wins by a margin of three runs of fewer, one or two defensive miscues could have made all the difference.

Hoskins has played three games at designated hitter and six at first base so far this season for the Brewers.   He would not be able to split his time in such a manner with the Phillies, with Schwarber and Harper firmly planted.

It's not a knock against Hoskins to suggest that he is no longer a fit.

No, Phillies fans won't boo Hoskins, as he suggested earlier this week.  They'll give him a loud, standing ovation when the Milwaukee Brewers come to town beginning June 3.  Fans will wish him well, but I think most understand that he does not really fit on this Phillies team right now.

Who sits first, Johan Rojas or Nick Castellanos?

Today is April 9.  I would answer the question if you're suggesting that one sits right now, that neither player should sit just yet.  We might be able to have a different discussion at the end of April.

Johan Rojas could have reminded us somewhat that there is a small sample size.  On Monday night, Rojas went 3 for 4, to raise his batting average over 100 points. Was it luck?  Was it a sign that something that the coaching staff is doing is working?  Still a small sample size to know that.

During Spring Training, Phillies manager Rob Thomson said that the Phillies were looking at the lower half of Rojas in his swings as an area for improvement.  He could do one of two things: work on that at Triple-A playing every day, or, work on that at the major league level with the major league coaching staff.

The Phillies selected the latter.

That would make me think that they would want a good month to see if they could get anywhere with Rojas and his swing.  If they cannot, they might call for either Wes Wilson or Kody Clemens at Triple-A.  But what would either player bring the Phillies beyond what Rojas can?  The gains might be incremental.

As for Nick Castellanos, his lack of production so far is worth watching.  Castellanos has been hot and cold for the Phillies thus far.  His 2022 was cold, with a couple full months hitting the .300 mark at the plate.  Last season he was an early offensive boost when they needed it down Bryce Harper.

I am not sure that the Phillies would "bench" Castellanos per se.  What they could do is increase his days off, giving opportunities to Whit Merrifield and Christian Pache.  Both of those players will need at bats.

Brandon Marsh, by the way, batted .229 against left-handed pitching last season, as compared to .292 against right-handed pitching.  So far this season it is .200 against left-handed pitching and .339 against right-handed pitching.  I would play Marsh against right-handed pitching all the time, but pick his days off against lefties, exposing him to some.

Having both Merrifield and Pache gives the Phillies the flexibility to match him up accordingly.

I want to see all five pitchers of EVERY team when in comes to these injuries. Media only concerned about star pitchers. I want to see those stats and the really determine if it's currently an outlier or something else.

Glenn is referring to the recent move by the MLB Players Association to suggest that the new pitch clock could be responsible for pitching injuries that are growing in number.  To be fair, the MLBPA did not necessarily have a clear conclusion that one is responsible for another.  They expressed concern that the league has not been willing to "acknowledge or study" the possibility that the who are related.

I think that studying the effects might be in order.  That's what Glenn is suggesting: that we take a look at this.

Should I be surprised that Justin Verlander, who is my age, has an injury?  The others - a list that includes the likes of Spencer Strider of the Braves and Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians - is indeed a celebrity list.

But aside from the pitch clock, pitching has dramatically changed.  The website Gitnux highlighted some significant changes in pitching, and a lot of it has to do with speed.  Consider the following:

  • All types of pitches increased an average of two miles-per-hour in velocity from 2008 through 2017
  • The number of pitches thrown 100 MPH or higher each MLB season increased from 147 in 2008 to 1,320 in 2017
  • The average fastball in 2002 was 89 MPH; in the last decade that number was around 93 MPH

These bullet points are far from a conclusion that it might be something else, such as added strain to pitching arms.  But it is among things to consider.

If I am MLB, I would suggest that the effects of the pitch clock and of the increased pitching velocity are both studied.   The days are long gone when Billy Wagner might dazzle as the only 100-MPH pitcher.

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