PHILADELPHIA >> After waiting all season for his bullpen to become whole, Gabe Kapler is seeing some progress.
Armed Wednesday with favorable medical reports on Pat Neshek, Luis Garcia and Edubray Ramos, and with Hector Neris having had two strong appearances since a demotion to the minors, Kapler hinted at a fully staffed bullpen within a week.
“I think so,” he said, before a 3-0 victory over the New York Yankees. “And I actually think we are in a pretty good spot, given the way Victor Arano has been throwing. And with as good as Ramos has been all year long, if you add (Neshek) into the mix and you add Garcia into the mix, the righties look really, really good.”
Neshek, who has missed the entire season with a strained right shoulder and related arm issues, threw a second consecutive strong rehab outing Tuesday in Reading, Kapler said. The 2017 All-Star will have at least one more rehab appearance before a return to the Phils.
“It was great,” Kapler reported. “He felt strong. He actually felt stronger than he did in his Florida rehab outing, so we are really excited about that. He’s going to take the day and then we are going to have him do another rehab outing on Friday.”
Garcia has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a strained wrist. He will throw a bullpen session Friday.
“Assuming that goes well, he could be activated as early as Sunday,” Kapler said. “But that’s also going to be kind of a read-and-react and we’ll see how he feels in the bullpen session.”
Ramos had a shoulder issue that sent him to the disabled list Monday.
“After three days down from throwing, he will throw again off flat ground (Thursday) and we’ll see how he feels,” Kapler said. “But we don’t expect that one to last very long. And if all goes well, we think somewhere around that 10-day mark he will be good to go.”
After a two-game demotion to the minors to settle after a rough season, Neris had two strong appearances. He pitched one two-strikeout inning Monday and another Tuesday.
“When he came off the field (Tuesday), Andrew Knapp said, ‘That’s the old Neris, right there,’” Kapler said. “I went back and I watched the splits. They were really good. He feels good. So if nothing else, we are in a very encouraged space with Hector.”
Zach Eflin completed a strong month Wednesday with seven innings, six strikeouts, two walks and four hits. Eflin won all of his five starts in June, going 30.2 innings without surrendering a home run.
“Every time he goes out there, he looks more and more like he believes in himself, and like the team should believe in him,” Kapler said. “He wears that kind of body language. He’s composed. He’s an incredible teammate. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Eflin’s record improved to 6-2. All of his wins in June were against teams in first or second place.
“I think it’s just understanding who I am as a pitcher,” Eflin said. “Being able to be healthy and just being able to focus on pitching alone is probably the biggest thing. But going in with a great game plan and two catchers who know how to call a great game is extremely beneficial. So being able to do that and put the puzzle pieces together has been awesome.”
Rhys Hoskins sent a three-run home run to right in the third. It was his 30th career home run in his 119th game. Chuck Klein had the Phillies record of 132. Ryan Howard needed 134 games.
“My first thought was, ‘Wow,’” Hoskins said. “Any time you get mentioned with either of those guys, or anyone of that caliber, it’s pretty humbling.”
Hoskins has 12 home runs this season.
The Phillies have kept Dylan Cozens on their roster, mostly for left-handed bench power.
Kapler acknowledges the risk to his development.
“One question that we constantly wrestle with is, ‘Do you develop more by getting every-day at-bats somewhere like Lehigh Valley, or do you develop by getting at-bats off the bench and getting infrequent exposure to major league competition?’” he said. “And I don’t think there’s a right answer. I think they’re both valuable.
“We’re going to look for spots to start him. But we really have the next two months planned out for Dylan.”
Recently removed from the disabled list after recovering from a strained quad, Cozens has hit .200 with one home run and two RBIs in 10 at-bats.
NOTES >> Out for the entire season with a strained lat, Jerad Eickhoff has a bullpen session scheduled for Thursday. Soon after, the Phils will dispatch him to Florida for some live batting-practice throws. … Aaron Nola (9-2, 2.58 ERA) will oppose right-hander Tanner Roark (3-8, 4.27) when the Nationals arrive for a four-game series Thursday at 7:05. On Friday, it will be Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.06) and right-handed Erick Fedde (0-3, 5.32). Vince Velasquez (5-8, 4.69) will oppose right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 2.28) Saturday at 6:05. Sunday at 1:35, it will be Jake Arrieta (5-6, 3.54) and lefty Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 3.68). … Jorge Alfaro took a foul ball off his foot, causing some concern. But he remained in the game. “I’m OK,” he said. … Scott Kingery has an eight-game hitting streak.