The most “undervalued” move at the trade deadline? Kyle Schwarber says it’s Brandon Marsh


When the San Diego Padres pulled off an eight-man prospect-loaded trade for Juan Soto, the general consensus within and especially outside the industry was that they had won the trade deadline.

Two months later, it looks like the Phillies have a goaltender. Marsh remains a work in progress at the plate, though his work with batting coach Kevin Long produced a strong .288/.319/.455 slant line in 41 regular season games and helped produce a big three-homer points in the fourth game. of the NL Division Series against Atlanta. But it was Marsh’s defense in center field, particularly his reach, that had the biggest impact on the Phillies.

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Two months later, it looks like the Phillies have a goaltender. Marsh remains a work in progress at the plate, though his work with batting coach Kevin Long produced a strong .288/.319/.455 slant line in 41 regular season games and helped produce a big three-homer points in the fourth game. of the NL Division Series against Atlanta. But it was Marsh’s defense in center field, particularly his reach, that had the biggest impact on the Phillies.

“I think that was the most undervalued trade throughout this entire trade timeline,” Kyle Schwarber said Saturday before playing alongside Marsh in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at the Citizens Bank Park. “The things he brought to the team is that he’s a natural center outfielder. The way he plays the game without fear. He’s a hell of an athlete. It makes games easy, like this game [Friday] night, it was not easy.

Indeed, an underrated moment in the Phillies’ 4-2 Game 3 win came in the second inning when Marsh tracked Wil Myers’ fly ball to the cautionary lane in center field and l hauled in to help Ranger Suárez hold on to a 1-0 lead. .

The Phillies didn’t expressly plan to improve their defense at the deadline, according to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, even though it was an obvious weakness. But they cemented several areas by acquiring Edmundo Sosa from the St. Louis Cardinals for left-handed reliever JoJo Romero and Marsh from the Los Angeles Angels for vaunted catch prospect Logan O’Hoppe.

“We knew that [defense] was not the strength of our club,” Dombrowski said. “We knew that from the start. We knew that last year. But this winter, the best players that suited us weren’t defensive players. If you can improve it, great. But if you improve it, at what cost does it hurt you, say, offensively? It was just that the right players were available at the right time for us to make those moves.

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In the days leading up to the deadline, the Phillies cast a wide net for young center players who had been controllable for several years, including Arizona’s Alek Thomas and Houston’s Jose Siri. Unsurprisingly, they found the asking prices high. With the Angels, they found a game, in part because O’Hoppe’s path to the majors with the Phillies was blocked by star receiver JT Realmuto.

And while Long worked to widen Marsh’s stance and shorten his stride to improve his timing and reduce his strikeout rate, the Phillies simply benefited from his ability to cover gaps in left center and right center field between Schwarber and Nick. Castellanos, which has below-average range in corners. He is also fearless. Two weeks after joining the Phillies, Marsh crashed into the center field wall and hit his knee and ankle in pursuit of a home run.

“I know which balls I can get to and which balls I can’t get to,” Schwarber said. “When you have a guy who has that extra-range factor, it makes you feel a little more comfortable. I know for a fact that if I play Marshy is going to have my back in the gap and I can be a little more aggressive. The more he plays with us there, the more comfortable he feels where he knows where he’s going to have to go.

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In time, the Phillies believe Marsh will hit the left-handed pitcher. For now, they’re content to play him against right-handers and put Matt Vierling in the lineup against left-handers.

But as long as Marsh catches everything in center field, he’ll give them what they need.

“It’s huge because he has good instincts,” manager Rob Thomson said. “His first step is great and his routes are direct, and he gets great reads from the start. That’s a lot of innate ability and sense he has.

There are notable similarities in the throwing styles of Phillies ace Zack Wheeler and New York Mets counterpart Jacob deGrom.

It is not a coincidence.

Wheeler, who will start Game 5 on Sunday, admitted he exploited his fastball drive by watching deGrom when they were teammates with the Mets.

“He threw a couple of bullpen between every start, and a bullpen would literally be just a dozen glove-side fastballs. That was it,” Wheeler said. “And then the next day he would do his normal bullpen and then he would start the next day doing the exact same thing.

“I really focused on that, and since then I’ve been able to order most of the time from that side of the board. And I think my command has improved a lot because it’s the hardest pitch to throw – a glove-side fastball – pretty consistent.

Coming into play Saturday night, the Phillies were 19-9 in playoff home games at Citizens Bank Park. … Jayson Werth will throw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 5. He will be the fifth member of the 2008 World Series championship team to do the honors, following Shane Victorino and Pat Burrell in the divisional round and Matt Stairs and Ryan Howard in the NLCS. … Wheeler will be opposed Sunday by Padres right-hander Yu Darvish in a Game 1 rematch.

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