ATLANTA -- Nick Williams is finishing the season just as he started it: a seldom-used outfielder who Gabe Kapler rarely decides to write into his lineup.
In April, Williams was sitting behind Andrew McCutchen in left field. But on Tuesday, he was out of the lineup for Jose Pirela.
Williams entered Tuesday with just one at-bat in 13 games since returning from triple A on Sept. 2. He is even lower on the depth chart in September than he was in April, when he waited 25 games into the season before his first start.
Williams, one of the key returns in the 2015 trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas, is likely playing out the final stretch of his time with the Phillies.
“I think Nick is still behind a few guys on our roster,” Kapler said. “The talent is undeniable.”
Williams turned 26 earlier this month and can not become a free agent until after the 2023 season. But the Phillies shuffled him five times this season between triple A and the majors. They could have traded him after signing Harper, but opted to keep him as a bench player.
It’s hard to see them doing that again after Williams struggled in his limited time as a pinch hitter. The Phillies could either trade Williams this offseason or keep him off their 40-man roster.
Kapler was asked before Tuesday’s series opener if Williams has a future with the Phillies.
“I think he has the talent. He’s a gifted athlete from every perspective,” the manager said.
Kapler started Pirela against lefthanded Dallas Keuchel, but it would have been Brad Miller in left field if the Braves were starting a righthander. Not even Corey Dickerson’s season-ending injury could create playing time for Williams.
Jay Bruce is battling an arm injury, but he could be ready to start as early as Monday. Kapler said he would move ahead of Williams, too. Williams is batting just .157 this season in 102 at-bats and .236 with a .691 OPS in the last two years. Time seems to be running out.