3 Players on short leashes as Phillies’ struggles continue

Matt Vierling #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Matt Vierling #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Several Phillies are at risk of losing playing time if they cannot turn their seasons around

It’s far too early to panic about the 2022 Philadelphia Phillies, but it’s not too soon to make changes.

As of Monday night’s series opener loss in Colorado, the Phillies are 4-7 on the season and have lost six of their last seven games, which is as bad as it sounds, especially for a team with such an expensive and elite-on-paper (and should-be-in-real-life) lineup. The bats are either white-hot or ice cold, which is familiar for Phillies fans, but infuriating, given the significant upgrades – Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos – the front office made this spring.

The Phillies are dealing with a few significant injuries, some indefensible defense, and a lineup that seemingly couldn’t plate runs if their lives depended on it, all on the heels of a locked-out offseason and shortened spring training. But while it’s early in the season, the ripple effect of these poor performances could reverberate if not curtailed soon.

Here are three players on a short leash as the Phillies look to find a solution…

1. Matt Vierling OF

It’s been a tumultuous spring for Matt Vierling. First, he was going to platoon with Odúbel Herrera in centerfield, then Herrera got hurt. Then, the platoon spot was up for grabs between Adam Haseley and Mickey Moniak, and the latter made such a case for himself that the Phillies traded the former. Towards the end of spring training, Moniak won the starting centerfield job over Vierling, and then tragically fractured his wrist when a pitch hit him in the final preseason game, leaving centerfield wide open for Vierling.

With all the changes and the fact that he only had 34 games of big-league experience coming into this season, it’s understandable that Vierling looks a little lost. But he didn’t record his first hit of the season until last Friday, and he was only 3-for-21 coming into Monday night’s contest. Being the everyday centerfielder is a huge responsibility, and he looks out of his depth.

It’s been Vierling and prospect Simon Muzziotti, called up from Double-A, manning the middle of the outfield, but it won’t stay that way for long. Herrera is rehabbing, and hopefully, Moniak won’t be far behind. They also have former Roman Quinn in Triple-A, and he has 178 games’ worth of big-league experience.

Centerfield has been a hole for the Phillies over the last few seasons, but Vierling looks to be more of a bench guy than the everyday patrolman.