Asher try­ing to pitch his way into 2017 plans

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jack McCaf­fery jm­c­caf­fery@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Jack­McCaf­fery on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Aaron Nola was through with an el­bow in­jury. Zach Eflin needed one knee op­er­a­tion, then an­other. Vince Ve­lasquez had reached an in­nings limit.

For that, the Phillies had an op­por­tu­nity for Alec Asher. It could have been as a place-holder. It could have been as a le­git­i­mate, young, start­ing-pitch­ing hope­ful.

“It all de­pends on how well he does,” Pete Mack­anin said the other day. “Last year, he did poorly. This year, he added a two-seamer and a changeup and he looks like he’s got bet­ter pitch abil­ity right now. He cer­tainly has done OK. Ev­ery­body has a chance. It’s a nice group.”

Though the Phillies would fall, 5-4, to the Mi­ami Marlins Sun­day, Asher at least would be pre­sentable, work­ing 4.1 in­nings, striking out four and walk­ing none. After sur­ren­der­ing two runs in the fifth, Asher needed help from Joely Ro­driguez, who coaxed Ichiro Suzuki into a dou­ble-play grounder.

But Asher had made at least one more move to­ward con­sid­er­a­tion for a 2017 ro­ta­tion spot.

“I thought it went well,” he said. “I ex­e­cuted a lot of pitches. The hits they got, I felt were soft sin­gles. They find holes. There’s noth­ing you can do about it.”

Asher spent most of the summer in­el­i­gi­ble after fail­ing a per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing-drug test. But cir­cum­stances have given him three late-season big-league starts, two good for six-plus in­nings, none in which he’s al­lowed more than two runs.

Asher was 0-6 with a 9.31 ERA for the Phils after ar­riv­ing last season from Texas in the Cole Hamels haul. He has been a bet­ter pitcher this season.

“I started im­ple­ment­ing the sinker and the two-seamer in the spring,” he said. “It’s been great. And then I have kind of worked on lately try­ing to slowly add depth to the slider, add side-to-side move­ment. So I am work­ing with a cou­ple dif­fer­ent types of slid­ers right now.”

Mack­anin’s quick hook Sun­day hinted that he re­mains undersold on Asher. The man­ager has said, though, that he will try to win every game, and the move to the left­handed Ro­driguez was suc­cess­ful.

“I mean of course I want to stay in and com­pete,” Asher said. “I wanted to get out of my own jam. But it’s not my de­ci­sion.”

All he can do is pitch. And he has done that a point where it could push him back onto the fringes of the Phillies’ plans.

“Yeah,” he said. “There is a lot of young tal­ent. It’s a healthy com­pe­ti­tion.”

*** Freddy Galvis joined Jimmy Rollins and Granny Ham­ner as the only Phillies short­stops to hit 20 homers in a season when he took Dustin McGowan deep in the sixth.

“I was just think­ing try to get my swing back be­fore the season was done, to try to go into the off­sea­son with a plan and try to feel good about my swing,” he said. “Like I said, I’ve fi­nally found a good swing, a good ap­proach and I’m go­ing to try to keep do­ing it.”

*** Hector Neris has been a de­pend­able eighth-in­ning pitcher all season. Sun­day, though, he was caught in a three-run eighth, al­low­ing a two-run homer to Chris­tian Yelich. He was also vic­tim­ized by two in­field er­rors, in­clud­ing a bob­bled pop-up when Ce­sar Her­nan­dez and Tommy Joseph semi­col­lided.

Though Neris has thrown 75.2 in­nings, he in­sists he is not tired.

“Noth­ing is hurt­ing in my arm,” he as­sured. NOTES >> Ryan Howard needed an­other day off Sun­day to deal with fluid on his left knee. He could be avail­able to play Tues­day, Mack­anin said … The Phils are off Monday. The White Sox will visit Tues­day, when Jake Thomp­son (2-5, 5.64 ERA) will face right-han­der James Shields (5-17, 5.84). Wed­nes­day at 7:05, it will be Jerad Eick­hoff (10-14, 3.74) and left-han­der Chris Sale (16-8, 3.03) … Odubel Her­rera was 2-for-4 with his 14th homer. He has a four-game mul­ti­ple-hit streak. Mack­anin: “I think the minute Roman Quinn got here, he started re­ally turn­ing it on. He saw Quinn and said, ‘Hey, wait, I’m bet­ter than this guy. I bet­ter get back on track.’”


The Marlins’ Dee Gor­don (9) is tagged out at first on a run­down by Phillies start­ing pitcher Alec Asher in the third in­ning Sun­day in Philadel­phia.

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