Phillies release Opening Day starting lineup, Odubel Herrera benched

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Aaron Altherr #23, Nick Williams #5, and Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate at the end of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park on September 18, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Dodgers 4-3. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Aaron Altherr #23, Nick Williams #5, and Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate at the end of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park on September 18, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Dodgers 4-3. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Gabe Kapler is going bold with his first ever regular season lineup

Opening Day has arrived for the Phillies in Atlanta, and the opening day lineup has officially been released with some major questions.

Following his motto of being bold, first year manager Gabe Kapler decided not to start center fielder Odubel Herrera against righty Julio Tehran. Instead, Aaron Altherr will man center field with Nick Williams starting in right.

Here’s the full lineup before we break down the choices Kapler made in Atlanta:

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  1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
  2. Carlos Santana, 1B
  3. Nick Williams, RF
  4. Rhys Hoskins, LF
  5. Aaron Altherr, CF
  6. J.P. Crawford, SS
  7. Maikel Franco, 3B
  8. Andrew Knapp, C
  9. Aaron Nola, SP

Riding the bench will be top prospect Scott Kingery, Pedro Florimon, Jorge Alfaro, and Herrera.

Herrera is 5-27 lifetime against Teheran, while Altherr is 2-16 with nine strikeouts. Altherr gets the start in center. Knapp, a rare switch-hitting catcher, will face the righty Teheran over top catching prospect Alfaro, who hit .375 against righties last season.

It’s certainly a bold decision to bench both Herrera and Alfaro, two players who are expected to be key pieces of the next core. It’s hard to say whether this is a message to the players or just Kapler finding “value at the margins” with his players.

The rest of the lineup makes sense from a position standpoint and with the batting order. Some speculated whether Kapler will bat a pitcher eighth or move Hoskins higher in the lineup, but for opening day Kapler stayed fairly traditional with his batting order

Next: Top individual opening day performances of the last decade

First pitch from Atlanta will be at 4:10 Thursday afternoon with Nola and Teheran in a battle of emerging stars in the National League East.

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