Phillies: Didi Gregorius just as valuable as J.T. Realmuto
By Matt Rappa
So far, so good for Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius’ tenure in red pinstripes
The start to the era of Joe Girardi as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies did not get off to an ideal start, to say the least, in the club’s 5-2 season-opening loss Friday evening against the Miami Marlins.
The Phillies offense mustered just five hits — four of which were singles — and three walks, while striking out eight times, grounding into two double plays, and going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. On the mound, Aaron Nola fell to 0-1, yielding four runs on five hits and one walk spanning 5 1/3 frames. The game-decider came in the top of the sixth, when, with the game tied 1-1, Nola surrendered a two-run home run to Jesus Aguilar.
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Reliever Ramon Rosso struggled in his debut, highlighted with his multiple wild pitches that allowed former Phillie Corey Dickerson to score. Beyond that, Reggie McClain, Austin Davis, and Trevor Kelley shut the door the rest of the way through the final 3 1/3 frames.
Perhaps the Phillies best-performing player from the disappointing opener loss was Didi Gregorius. He single-handedly accounted for two-fifths of the team’s hits, and one-third of the team’s walks.
Gregorius’ biggest hit came in the bottom of the fifth, a no-doubter home run to right field, which tied the game at 1. The shortstop then walked during his next plate appearance, followed by singling to lead off the bottom of the ninth.
Gregorius’ home run marked his first hit in red pinstripes, as well as his second career Opening Day home run — the first occurring in April 2016 against the Houston Astros. And, according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, Gregorius is just the fourth Phillies shortstop in the expansion era to go yard on Opening Day, joining Freddy Galvis, 2016-17; Jimmy Rollins, 2007-08-14; and Desi Relaford 2000.
Had there not been a dropped ball error later on in center field by former Phillies prospect Jonathan Villar, which allowed Gregorius to score from first, his home run would have been the Phillies’ only run in the loss. It should be noted that Gregorius deserves credit on hustling, amid a flyball, that 999 times out of 1,000 would be caught.
Earlier in the week, Gregorius doubled in the Phillies’ road exhibition game against his former team, the New York Yankees, who Girardi’s squad will face for four straight games starting on Monday. A couple of days prior, he crushed a three-run home run against Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
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Gregorius seems locked in. And, just like catcher J.T. Realmuto, he is set to enter free agency this offseason.
Given both his recent career success as a Yankee and so far as a Phillie, Gregorius deserves just as much attention as Realmuto for the team to re-sign and sure up a key infield position. After all, the veteran signed just a one-year, $14 million contract this past offseason, coming off of Tommy John surgery.
So far, so good for Gregorius, who seems to be the best overall Phillies shortstop — both in the field and at the plate — since their franchise hits leader, Rollins. Time will tell if his hot streak can continue throughout most of the remaining 59 games of the 2020 season, and, hopefully, into the postseason.