Phillies manager Gabe Kapler can get creative with his lineup tonight
For the second time this year, the Phillies will utilize the designated hitter as they travel to Baltimore to face the Orioles. Manager Gabe Kapler already had the opportunity to play the designated hitter in a three-game series against Tampa Bay, when he used Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins, and Cesar Hernandez as the designated hitters.
Kapler constantly talks about finding value at the margins, which is what he’ll likely use when picking his designated hitters for the two-game series. Expect him to move players who are less defensively inclined off the field and solely into the batter’s box against Baltimore.
That theory would point towards Hoskins, who has struggled at the plate and handled himself relatively well in left field. His dWAR of -.8 isn’t overwhelming, but William’s dWAR of -.3 could push Hoskins off the field.
Perhaps not having to worry about himself in the field could help Hoskins focus at the plate, as he’s swung at 36.2% of all pitches thrown at him. He’s also found himself on base more this year, as he’s currently second in the National League with 30 walks.
Jorge Alfaro may get the opportunity to get out from behind the plate on Wednesday in the matinee game at 12:35 p.m. with Andrew Knapp getting the start. Alfaro is hitting .290 in the month of May and is too valuable to bench for a game against one of the worst teams in baseball. Knapp hasn’t killed it at the plate, hitting .185 in limited opportunities, but brings value as a switch-hitter and energy player.
Scott Kingery may have an opportunity to be the designated hitter after the league adjusted to him early in the season. Kingery hit .280 in his first 13 games with two home runs, both of which have been at home. With a batting average dipping below .220 Kingery continues to get steady at-bats while bouncing around the infield. J.P. Crawford’s injury at short has opened a hole for Kingery to play, but the production hasn’t supported him of late.
William’s has been in a platoon situation with Aaron Altherr all season, and his defensive numbers are only a hair behind at -.3 dWAR for Williams and a clean 0 dWAR for Altherr. A three-run pinch-hit home run on Sunday could swing momentum towards Williams, who’s had 33 fewer at-bats than Altherr this season.
Maikel Franco is another potential designated hitter candidate with Kingery potentially playing third, but Franco has looked strong in all aspects of his game to sit for all-but four at-bats.
With righty Andrew Cashner on the mound Tuesday night it makes sense to have Hoskins as the designated hitter with Williams playing left with an athletic and defensive advantage. Baltimore hasn’t announced their starter for Wednesday, but Alfaro as the designated hitter makes sense given his hot bat and need to rest in a day game after a night game.