The Philadelphia Phillies are averaging fewer than four runs scored per game, while their pitching is averaging more than 4 1/2 runs allowed per game. Put the two numbers together, and that helps to quantify why the team is underperforming at a record below .500 — 10-11 — through the first 21 games of the 2021 season.
The Phillies should try players, other than Andrew McCutchen, out at leadoff.
Phillies leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen slashing .154/.300/.231 is not helping the cause. During the team’s 12-2 blowout loss to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, the five-time All-Star went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. Overall this season, McCutchen has just two extra-base hits, while striking out 18 times and walking 14 times, spanning 80 plate appearances and 65 at-bats.
It’s time for the Phillies to make a change at the leadoff spot. That would only help the offense score more runs and obtain leads that the starting pitching and bullpen can hopefully maintain throughout games.
The Phillies and manager Joe Girardi might be forced to make a difficult decision regarding McCutchen once Jean Segura returns from the 10-day injured list with a strained right quad. Infielder prospect Nick Maton has been logging starts at second base in Segura’s absence and is impressing — slashing .500/.542/636 with eight singles, three doubles, an RBI and walk each, and six strikeouts across six games and 24 plate appearances.
Maton already has more hits (11) and extra-base hits (3) this season than McCutchen (10, 2). The rookie has also logged multiple hits in four straight games. The Phillies cannot afford to take Maton out of the lineup once Segura returns, so perhaps he can take over for McCutchen in left field at that time. In the meantime, Brad Miller could be used in a platoon situation with McCutchen.
There is no doubt that 13-year veteran McCutchen has had a great career. Also winning a Gold Glove and four Silver Slugger Awards, his 2013 MVP season with the Pittsburgh Pirates will always be remembered. But now at age 34 and in the final year of his three-season, $50 million pact with the Phillies, it might be time for the team to explore other leadoff and/or left field options with an eye toward 2022 and beyond.