Six of the Phillies’ first nine games were against the Atlanta Braves, who have five left-handed relievers in their nine-man bullpen. If it seemed, then, that the Phillies didn’t use their bench much, that was the primary reason.
“Unlike any other team, they’re going to create problems for us a little bit just because they’re so left-handed dominant,” manager Joe Girardi said. “You’re not going to see that with most clubs.”
Sure, but it doesn’t change that the Phillies’ best pinch-hitters — Brad Miller and Matt Joyce — bat from the left side of the plate, an imbalance that forced Girardi into the uncomfortable move to bring J.T. Realmuto off the bench for a right-handed at-bat in the two games that he didn’t start behind the plate.
The Phillies expected to have Scott Kingery as a righty-hitting utility player but sent him to the Lehigh Valley alternate site after his strikeout-filled spring training. Kingery’s roster spot went to infielder Ronald Torreyes, who is more appealing as a defensive replacement than a pinch-hitter. Through nine games, he got all of one at-bat.
Girardi said reports on Kingery’s progress are that he has been “OK.” But the Phillies sent him down to level out a swing that has become too much of an uppercut over the last few seasons. Two weeks of exhibition games against the Yankees’ and Mets’ alternate-site clubs aren’t enough for the Phillies to declare Kingery fixed.
“Scotty went down to get right, and we don’t feel that Scotty’s ready to come back as of right now,” Girardi said. “There’s been some good at-bats and there’s some other at-bats. He’s used the whole field a little bit more down there. But it’s been OK. We feel like it’s going in the right direction.”
Kingery could eventually help the Phillies in center field, too. Entering Tuesday’s doubleheader, Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn had combined to go 5-for-35 (.143) with one extra-base hit, 12 strikeouts, and no walks. Kingery isn’t the lone center-field option at Lehigh Valley. Mickey Moniak is also on the 40-man roster; Odúbel Herrera and Travis Jankowski are not.
The Phillies lack right-handed bench options at the alternate site. Other than Kingery, none of the right-handed hitters there — infielders Austin Listi and Luke Williams, outfielder Matt Vierling, and catchers Edgar Cabral and Rodolfo Duran — is on the 40-man roster. None has played in the majors, either.
Until Kingery is ready, then, the Phillies will play with the bench they have — and be thankful they don’t see the Braves again until May 7.
“Our roster is what it is,” Girardi said. “I still think that we’re doing OK.”
Segura meets, greets, often beats Mets
The ball traveled all of 4 feet down the third-base line. But because it was hit by Jean Segura, and because the Phillies were facing the Mets, it succeeded in driving home the tying run in the sixth inning of the first game Tuesday. The Phillies wound up losing, 4-3, in eight innings.
But Segura, quite simply, slays the Mets. Since he joined the Phillies for the 2019 season, the second baseman is 44-for-114 (.386) with 21 RBIs in 28 games against New York.
Among players with at least 80 plate appearances against the Mets since 2019, only Anthony Rendon (.392) and Josh Donaldson (.388) have a higher batting average against them.
Rhys Hoskins’ career-long streak of 62 at-bats without a walk ended in the sixth inning of the first game. ... With a single in the fourth inning of the opener, Didi Gregorius became the first Phillies player to start a season with a 10-game hitting streak since Chase Utley hit in 11 straight games to open the 2014 season. ... Right-hander Spencer Howard joined the Phillies as the 27th player for the doubleheader but was slated to be optioned to the alternate site after the second game. ... Because of the doubleheader, the Phillies will need a spot starter Saturday at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. Vince Velasquez is the likeliest candidate. ... Former Met Zack Wheeler is scheduled to start Wednesday night against left-hander David Peterson, who gave up six runs in four innings on April 7 at Citizens Bank Park.