Rookie Morgan opens second half in style

Rookie Morgan opens second half in style

PHILADELPHIA -- It's no secret that the Phillies are reinventing themselves. So, for a team that has been not-so-secretly shopping multiple key contributors and entered the All-Star break with fewer than 30 wins, Friday's first game back was like a second Opening Day, a grand reopening for the new Phils.

And front and center on the mound as a second Opening Day starter was 25-year-old rookie Adam Morgan, one of the many young players the Phillies are hoping can parlay a solid second half of 2015 into a future in the organization.

In Friday's 6-3 win, Morgan moved toward doing just that. The lefty tossed 6 1/3 innings and allowed just two runs, surrendering four hits and three walks while striking out three. He knocked a double off Marlins' ace Jose Fernandez for his first MLB hit and scored his first run for good measure. Though Morgan didn't earn the victory, his pitching kept the opportunity alive for the team to win, a fact that he said he felt was more important than starting off the second half right.

"Really I was just going out there and trying to do my job," Morgan said. "I gave my team a chance to win, and hopefully everybody jumps on. Which they will. Everybody's working hard. Nobody's doubting anything in here."

The mutual understanding to which Morgan hinted referred to the team's attitude on turning around this season. But it isn't limited to that. On a smaller scale, Morgan's outing Friday showed that he and his coaches are on the same wavelength when it comes to how long the rookie is capable of going.

Morgan only threw 85 pitches Friday. Based on pitch count alone he very easily could have finished the seventh inning. That being said, he struggled in the seventh, falling behind batters and working himself into two separate three-ball counts. The lefty said when that began to happen, he knew it was his time to leave the game.

Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin recognized that too.

"When you lose your command, when you're not throwing quality strikes, there's nothing else to say about it," Mackanin said. "You're just not throwing quality strikes. All of the sudden in the seventh with the lead or in a tie game or a close game, you lose that, then it's time to go."

However, Mackanin was impressed with Morgan's poise on the mound, especially for a pitcher only four starts into his Major League career. And with the Phillies rotation about to get even more crowded as the team both returns veterans Jerome Williams and Aaron Harang from injury and further prepares for the future with the impending arrival of prospect Aaron Nola, most would think Morgan needed to make a statement in order to justify remaining in the big leagues.

Despite this, Morgan doesn't list himself among those with that viewpoint.

"I can't really worry about what everybody else is saying or thinking because it takes away from my game," he said.

Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.