Phillies MLB Opening Day 2019: Four things we learned from a big win

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – MARCH 28: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Philadelphia Phillies rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park on March 28, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

Lineup depth miles better

Thanks to the Phillies’ offseason additions, they came into the year with the deepest lineup they’ve had in years. We saw Thursday just what that lineup can do when it is firing on all cylinders.

The first example of this depth came up in the fourth inning with the game tied 1-1. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins both struck out with Jean Segura on third base, leading to a sense of despair that the team would waste a golden opportunity.

Instead, J.T. Realmuto walked before Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez hit back-to-back RBI singles to give Philadelphia the lead they would never relinquish. Maikel Franco made his presence known two innings later with a two-out, three-run home run.

In years past, the bottom half of lineups featured players like Freddy Galvis, Tommy Joseph, and Michael Saunders. Now with capable hitters like Herrera, Hernandez, and Franco hitting at the bottom of the lineup instead of below-average players, the team can still generate runs from there.

The top of the lineup then showed its potency in the seventh inning. Andrew McCutchen walked and Segura singled and forced a throwing error to put runners on second and third with no outs. Not wanting to face Harper, the Braves opted to intentionally walk Harper and try their luck with Hoskins. The first baseman, quiet up until that point in the game, showed what happens when you try to avoid pitching to Harper:

The pairing of Harper and Hoskins will create situations like this all season long. If you pitch to Harper, he can take you deep. If you avoid him, then Hoskins can make you pay. It’s a real catch-22 that will play out all season long.