Phillies vs Rangers: Five questions to ask going into the series
How do the Phillies handle the designated hitter rule?
One of the largest differences between playing in Texas and Philadelphia is obviously the use of the designated hitter in a lineup instead of the pitcher. With two righties and a lefty starting for Texas in the series, expect the Phillies to load their lineup with lefties the first two games.
Against Yu Darvish on Tuesday, I anticipate Daniel Nava starting in the outfield and Michael Saunders being the designated hitter. Having a switch-hitter like Nava in the lineup is a valuable tool against American League pitchers. This allows Altherr and Herrera’s gloves to stay in the game.
Wednesday versus Andrew Cashner, Saunders might get the night off despite having the lefty-righty matchup. Cashner has held Saunders hitless in seven at-bats, while Herrera is 6-11 with two home runs. This could be a chance for Brock Stassi to get more plate appearances against Cashner as the designated hitter.
Having Saunders on the bench to potentially pinch-hit against a right-handed relief pitcher is a major tool for Pete Mackanin. Although with a lefty on the mound Thursday the Phillies may want Saunders in since he’s likely out the final game of the series.
Finally, with lefty Martin Perez on the hill, the Phillies are likely to fill the lineup with righties. That means either Nava or Andres Blanco gets to hit somewhere in the lineup.
Don’t be surprised if Maikel Franco gets an opportunity to be the designated hitter in this series. It could give him a chance to think about hitting and watch the opposing pitcher more frequently in the dugout with Matt Stairs.