Alec Bohm came into the week with 139 plate appearances after making 180 as a rookie last year, which means the scouting report on him has gotten considerably more voluminous just since this season started.
Maybe that explains his .217 batting average and .578 OPS. It certainly accounts for why he’s been seeing more breaking pitches and fewer fastballs over the last few weeks.
“Teams start to make adjustments, and they can make adjustments to defensive alignments as well, because you get more of a book on someone,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said after not jotting Bohm’s name in the lineup Tuesday night, a one-game breather for the struggling third baseman. “It’s incumbent on the player, as teams adjust to him, that he has to adjust back.”
It happens to every hitter. The best ones are able to adapt quickly before teams force them to adjust yet again.
Bohm had instant success as a rookie, batting .338 with an .881 OPS in 44 games against a handful of NL East and AL East opponents in the truncated 2020 season. After going hitless in 13 at-bats over four games last month, he actually had hits in eight of 12 games entering the series opener in Washington and was 12-for-48 with two homers during that span.
Girardi continued to note that Bohm is making consistently hard contact without much reward. Indeed, 51.5% of the balls he has put in play have had an exit velocity of at least 95 mph, up from 46.8% last season, according to Statcast. But his batting average on balls in play is .258 compared to .410 last year.
And Bohm admitted recently that the lack of success has taken a toll.
“Seeing one ball not fall, then another, then I have a bad at-bat here, and everything started snowballing a little bit,” he said. “You’ve got to step away sometimes and just say, ‘Look, I’m doing all the things I need to do, swinging at the right pitches, and things will turn eventually.’
“I’ve gone through it a little bit in the minor leagues, but not when it’s this meaningful, I guess. We’re in all these close games. I really wanted to help. I think now I’ve got to just be myself and let it come. That’s something I’ve focused on lately. Just not focusing on the [stats] on the scoreboard and more on what I’m doing.”
Girardi was hoping another night off for Bohm, after the Phillies were idle Monday, would help. Lefty-hitting Brad Miller started at third base against Nationals right-hander Erick Fedde.
“At times [Bohm] is chasing a little bit, going out of the zone,” Girardi said. “Sometimes that can be from a little bit of frustration. He’s hit some balls hard and hasn’t had some luck, and I think that can lead to some frustration. I don’t think he’s far off.”
Bradley set to pitch
Reliever Archie Bradley, who said last week that he hopes to return from the injured list when the Phillies get home next Tuesday, is scheduled to pitch one inning Wednesday night in Scranton for triple-A Lehigh Valley, his first appearance in a game since April 10.
Bradley has been sidelined by a strained oblique muscle in his right side. Girardi said there’s “a good chance” that Bradley will pitch for Lehigh Valley again Saturday night before the Phillies consider reinstating him to the roster.
“In my head, as long as everything goes well this next week while the team is away, I should be looking at a return when I get back,” Bradley said last week. “Fortunately I have been throwing. I never really quit throwing throughout this process. If everything goes well this week coming up, we should be good to go.”
The Phillies could use him. Entering Tuesday night, they played 16 one-run games, more than any team in baseball. Bradley, their highest-profile free-agent addition to the bullpen, has allowed two earned runs in three innings over four appearances thus far this season.
Utility infielder Ronald Torreyes is close to rejoining the Phillies after playing his fifth game for Lehigh Valley. Torreyes has been on the COVID-19 injury list since April 19. His return would likely mean Scott Kingery (1-for-13, seven strikeouts) heads back to the minors. ... Entering Tuesday night, Andrew McCutchen began three of the last eight games with a home run, the most leadoff homers for the Phillies in an eight-game span since Juan Samuel hit three in 1989. ... Zack Wheeler will start Wednesday night against Nationals left-hander Jon Lester.