Brandon Marsh showing out this season but still hasn’t earned everyday playing time

Is there any chance the Phillies outfielder will start playing every day?
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh has had a strong start to the season
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh has had a strong start to the season / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies are currently 8-8 to start the 2024 season, and many of the Phillies' top bats are off to slow starts at the dish. For a team that's built to out-slug their opponents, All-Star caliber players like Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, and Bryson Stott are all struggling to get locked in at the plate.

Recent history points to all three players getting hot and reaching the numbers on the back of their baseball cards before long. But when?

If you take a look at who the most productive hitters on the team have been since Opening Day, Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto, Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh have basically carried the offense from the start of the season.

Schwarber's hot start and .242 batting average is a welcome sight considering he could only manage .197 in 2023. Realmuto has been a consistent hitter out of the clean-up spot. Alec Bohm has picked up where he left off last season and has continued to be an RBI machine with runners on base.

Yet, Brandon Marsh has been on an entirely different level at the plate to begin the 2024 season.

Marsh has easily been the best hitter on the Phillies team during the first few weeks of the 2024 campaign, batting .313 with 15 hits, four home runs, nine RBI, and one stolen base in 48 at-bats. Manager Rob Thomson recently rode the hot hand when he inserted Marsh into the sixth spot in the batting order behind Bohm and ahead of the scuffling Castellanos and Stott.

How long will Thomson keep Marsh in the middle of the order? Let's hope he stays there until he proves otherwise.

So far, the results speak for themselves. Batting fifth has allowed Marsh to come up in situations with runners on base, and the Phillies continue to be rewarded for that decision.

Thomson has shown more trust in Marsh as a hitter in the early part of this season. With Johan Rojas still trying to establish himself as a major league hitter, Thomson has started to pencil Marsh into the lineup more frequently against left-handed pitching in order to keep his best offensive team on the field.

While a small sample size, Marsh is hitting .214 with three hits, one walk and seven strikeouts in 16 plate appearances against southpaws. The numbers are clearly nothing earth-shattering. Yet, while fellow left-handed hitter Bryson Stott has had more opportunities to hit against southpaws without sitting, Marsh has been forced to ride the pine until now.

More at-bats for Marsh this season would certainly create a logjam on the bench with players who aren't getting opportunities. That makes it all the more likely that Marsh will remain in some type of platoon situation based on pitching match-ups over the course of the season.

Whit Merrifield will require regular at-bats

When the Phillies signed free-agent All-Star utilityman Whit Merrifield to a $7 million, one-year deal in spring training, the move pointed to an outfield situation with Rojas, Marsh, and Merrifield all rotating in and out of the lineup. Merrifield was signed to protect against Rojas' potential offensive failures while also giving the infield a break when needed.

So far, Merrifield has appeared in seven games in left field (49.0 innings) and has only made one start at his natural position of second base (7.0 innings). Off to a tough start like many Phillies hitters, Merrifield is only batting .120 through 25 at-bats.

The Phillies didn't sign Merrifield to sit on the bench all season, so Marsh's recent starts against left-handed pitching have certainly cut down on his opportunities. But Stott is also off to a slow start in 2024. Is it possible we could start to see Merrifield get a few more starts at second base with southpaws on the mound?

That's unlikely, as Stott has actually hit better against lefties than right-handed pitchers this season. In a small sample size of 13 at-bats, Stott is hitting .308 with four hits and three RBI. The Phillies want to see Stott get going offensively, so sitting on the bench anytime soon seems unlikely. Right now, Marsh and Merrifield will be forced to make do with this situation.

That could all change if Rojas regresses from some recent success at the plate. It's clear that the Phillies want to give the defensively gifted center fielder every chance to show he can be productive enough to warrant a starting role on the ball club. But in the event that he's optioned to Triple-A at some point, an outfield featuring Merrifield in left and Marsh in center seems the likely scenario to keep the best bats in the lineup every day.

We're only two weeks into the season, but it's hard to keep Marsh's hot bat out of the lineup right now. It's unclear if this is a rare Rob Thomson experiment or if the Phillies are pushing Marsh to become a more complete everyday player. Either way, it's been fun to watch.