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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Phillies Notebook: Herrera’s dramatic U-turn

Posted by Eric Fisher On June 6

Odubel Herrera has come out swinging at the start of June.

And, unlike in May, he isn’t swinging and missing.

After batting a paltry .196 during May, with an almost inconceivable .196 on-base percentage, Herrera has been on fire in early June. He delivered two doubles in each of his first three games in June, with home runs in the second and third games.

Not so coincidentally, the Phillies won all three games.

It appears that not starting three out of four games has made a world of difference for Herrera. Before the benching, he appeared to have no plan at the plate. On May 25, Herrera went 0 for 5 with five strikeouts against the Rockies, flailing at pitches outside the strike zone.

An indication of how undisciplined Herrera was during May was that he only walked one time in 109 at-bats – and that was an intentional walk.

Herrera hasn’t walked in June, but his eight RBI exceeds his May total by three.His six doubles in three games are just two shy of his May total. Herrera didn’t hit any home runs during May. He hit one during Sunday’s 9-7 victory over the Giants and another during Monday’s 11-4 victory over the Braves. His batting average has jumped from .218 to .243 in three games.

The scores in the previous paragraph demonstrate that, with Herrera being productive, the offense-starved Phillies can score runs.

For three games, Herrera has flashed the form that made him a first-time all-star last season. Nobody expects him to continue to hit two doubles every game, but a more consistent and productive Herrera makes the Phillies a much better team.

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SAME OLD THING: The improvement hasn’t been as dramatic for Maikel Franco, who, like Odubel Herrera, struggled mightily during May and was given a few games off by  manager Pete Mackanin.

Franco showed some positive signs with a pair of two-hit games last week against the Marlins and Giants. His home run on Sunday, which gave the Phillies’ the lead for good during their 9-7 victory over the Giants, was his first since May 18. That also happened to be his first RBI since May 18.

On the other hand, Franco’s batting average is still .218 and his on-base percentage is .270. During Monday’s 11-4 triumph over the Braves, Franco was 0 for 5, the only Phillies starter without a hit.

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STOPPING THE STREAK: Sunday’s 9-7 victory over the Giants gave the Phillies a series victory, their first since sweeping a two-game series from the Marlins on April 26 and 27. The Phillies had lost 10 straight series.

The victories over the Giants on Saturday and Sunday, which followed a 10-0 loss on Friday, were their first consecutive victories since the Marlins series at the end of April.

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MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Although the Phillies finally won a series against the Giants, they missed an opportunity for a good week against the Marlins and Giants, who are both struggling this season. The Marlins, who swept the Phillies, entered the series only one game ahead of the Phillies.

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FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: Ben Lively picked up the win in his major-league debut on Saturday, limiting the Giants to one run in seven innings during a 5-3 victory. Nick Pivetta picked up his first major-league win Monday, allowing three runs in five innings during an 11-4 victory over the Braves.

Lively was called up to the Phillies earlier this season, but not get an opportunity to pitch. Pivetta was 0-2 with a 5.12 ERA earlier this season while Aaron Nola was on the disabled list.

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TWO-TIMERS: The Phillies’ starting pitchers only won two games during May, with one of those victories coming on May 1. To put that in perspective, the victories by Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta matched the Phillies’ win total for starting pitchers during May.

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VELAZQUEZ TO DL: The Phillies were trying to spin the news that Vince Velasquez is expected to be sidelined until the All-Star break as good news. Although it’s true that Velasquez requiring surgery to repair the flexor strain in his right forearm/elbow would be worse news, when a starting pitcher isn’t allowed to throw for three weeks and is expected to miss at least six weeks, it’s not good news.

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FEELING A DRAFT: Major League Baseball’s amateur draft will be held Monday. The Phillies have the eighth pick in the first round.

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ASTROS ROCKET TO TOP: The Houston Astros enter Tuesday’s games with an 11-game winning streak. The Astros, with the best record (42-16) in the majors, have a 14-game lead over the Angels and Mariners. The National League East, where the Nationals have an 11½-game lead over the Braves and Mets, is the only other division in which the first place team leads by more than two games.

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ROAD GETS TOUGHER: After their four-game series with the Braves, the Phillies continue their nine-game road trip with three games against the Cardinals, who enter Tuesday with a four-game losing streak. The Phillies will wrap up their road trip next Monday and Tuesday in Boston, before returning to Citizens Bank Park for two games against the Red Sox in a four-game, home-and-home series.

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