After losing the series opener on Monday, July 24th at home against the Orioles, Phillies skipper Rob Thomson decided to shake up the starting nine for Tuesday’s game.
The Monday night lineup had fans puzzled. Notably, Kyle Schwarber was again placed in left field, Garrett Stubbs was behind the plate, Josh Harrison Harrison at third and Jake Cave at first over Alec Bohm. The Phillies were able to muster seven hits in the game but ultimately failed to come from behind.
The story was much different in the second game. First off: no Cave and no Harrison. While Cave’s production in Lehigh Valley has been stellar, his play does not fit this roster and an already crowded outfield. Similarly, Harrison is nowhere near the Josh Harrison the league got to know during his time in Pittsburgh, not to mention his severe liability at the plate.
In response to the game one loss, it was evident Thomson is looking for the right lineup. Last night was a great start.
Aside from the walk off win by Bohm, the Phillies played a fantastic game. Walker’s two runs allowed was par for the course. The Orioles are arguably the best team in the American League, shutting them out is no easy feat especially coming off a loss.
However, the most notable and beneficial change to the lineup from Monday to Tuesday was Kyle Schwarber’s moving from left field to designated hitter.
Schwarber, as much as the fans and the team love him, cannot continue to play defense for this team, as evident by his failed diving catch in the top of the ninth on Monday. His missed catch ultimately cost them the game.
With Schwarber at DH, Bryce Harper was put at first base with Marsh in left and top prospect Johan Rojas in center. That lineup worked perfectly. Coming up clutch early, Rojas got the Phillies on the board with an RBI single. While the top six struggled at the plate last night, Harper ended up tying the game in the eighth with a huge solo shot.
One thing during the broadcast that stuck out while Harper was at the plate was John Kruk’s opinion on why Harper benefits from playing the field. Kruk said that when Harper is in the field, he is much more engaged and produces better at bats. Over the few games that Harper has played in the field, his timing and vision have improved. So, as Kruk would say, “[my head] isn’t just a hat rack.”
So why did the Phillies manage to succeed behind Walker despite having less hits than Monday?
Brandon Marsh and Johan Rojas.
Getting Schwarber out of left field is certainly a priority of Rob’s, as evident by his quick switch from Monday to Tuesday night. Going forward, Thomson would be smart to continue using Schwarber at DH and Harper at first. Despite the risk of reinjury, Harper provides much more value than Schwarber at this point in the season. Marsh and Rojas are quick, young defensive outfielders who can hit for contact. By adding one, or both, of Marsh and Rojas betters both the offense and defense.
Time is running out for the Phillies. August is right around the corner and they sit .5 games out of the Wild Card and 11 games behind the Braves in the NL East. As of writing, the Phillies are one of two teams in the NL East with a positive run differential, so there are indications that this team is hitting the jets.
All eyes are on the Phillies with the trade deadline fast approaching. Sure there are moves Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld can make over the next week, but the real success is dependent on Thomson’s ability to make effective lineups like he did last night.
Proposed Phillies Lineup
- Stott, 2B
- Turner, SS
- Harper, 1B
- Castellanos, RF
- Realmuto, C
- Schwarber, DH
- Bohm, 3B
- Marsh, CF/LF
- Rojas/Pache, CF/LF