Phillies outfielder Cristian Pache was injured in the fifth inning in Houston on Friday night. He was placed on the 10-day IL on Saturday and will require surgery to repair his torn meniscus. There is reasonable hope that he will return before the end of the season. Meniscus injuries usually require about two months or so to recover from.
The Phillies will provide updates as they receive them. The timing of the injury could not be worse for Pache as he was starting to heat up at the plate and contribute in meaningful ways.
His tenure in Philadelphia has been an up-and-down affair to this point.
Phillies' Cristian Pache got off to a hot start
The Philadelphia Phillies acquired former high-ranking prospect Pache on March 29, just one day before the 2023 season was set to begin. At the time, the club was still unsure about Brandon Marsh's ability to hit left-handed pitching. Pache— a right-handed bat— was brought into a potential platoon with Marsh if his struggles against left-handers came to fruition.
Fast forward a month and Marsh's OPS ranks third in all of baseball. His batting average against left-handed pitching is almost identical to his average against right-handed pitching. It is early in the season, but it appears that Marsh does not need to be part of a platoon. So how does Pache fit in now?
Pache has shown promise since he was signed by the Atlanta Braves as a teenager in 2015. He was ranked as a top 10 prospect in 2019 and a top 5 prospect in 2020 and 2021. He played in the shortened 2020 season and appeared in 22 games in 2021 with the Atlanta Braves. During that small sample size, Pache hit .119 in his regular season games and .182 in the 2020 postseason.
In March of 2022 Pache was traded to the Oakland Athletics as part of the package that brought Matt Olson to Atlanta. The struggling A's used Pache more frequently than the Braves. He appeared in 91 games for Oakland in 2022. He hit just just .166 with a .459 OPS in 241 at-bats. Despite his offensive struggles in Atlanta and Oakland, Pache's defense was a stronger part of his game.
When the Phillies traded for Pache just one month ago, they were hoping that he could play a solid center field and hit a little bit against left-handed pitching. While he showed range in center field, there were some throwing (or not throwing when he should have) issues in the outfield. Pache's first three games went about as poorly offensively as one could imagine.
In his first six at-bats, Pache struck out twice and left a combined nine men on base. It felt as though each of his plate appearances came in crucial situations. His situational hitting was absent and he was not endearing himself to his new fanbase. Marsh began to see more regular playing time against left-handed pitchers and Pache was then relegated to a bench role as a defensive replacement.
Since his early struggles, Pache worked on his hitting, which had yielded some results before the injury. In his 19 at-bats since April 5, Pache hit .474. He also hit a home run and knocked in four runs. While a batting average near .500 is not sustainable, Pache changed how he is perceived at the plate in just one month's time.