Mickey Moniak was given seven starts in April to take hold of the Phillies’ center-field job. He may be about to get a longer look.
The Phillies called up Moniak on Saturday from triple-A Lehigh Valley after placing outfielder Travis Jankowski on the 10-day injured list with a bruised right foot. Moniak wasn’t in the lineup against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park, but manager Joe Girardi said he intends to use the 23-year-old former first overall draft pick.
“He’s not going to sit every day,” Girardi said. “We’ll go day by day and see how everybody’s doing. He’ll play some.”
Moniak entered the game on Saturday as part of a double switch and struck out looking in the eighth inning.
One way to get Moniak in the lineup would be to play him in left field against right-handed pitchers. Through Friday night, Andrew McCutchen was batting .299 with 14 homers and a 1.062 on-base-plus-slugging in 173 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, but only .178 with 10 homers and a .615 OPS in 329 plate appearances against righties.
Moniak is batting .244 with 14 doubles, seven triples, 12 homers, 60 RBIs, and a .740 OPS in 378 plate appearances in triple A. He has struggled lately, though. Over his last 20 games, Moniak is 13-for-69 (.188) with only three extra-base hits and a .536 OPS. He hasn’t homered since July 24, a span of 120 plate appearances.
Center field has been a problem for the Phillies since spring training, when Moniak was on the fringe of a competition with Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, Scott Kingery, and Odúbel Herrera. Haseley was the opening-day center fielder but took a leave of absence for personal reasons in April; Quinn was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles in May; Kingery struggled in triple A before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
Herrera started his 75th game of the season in center field Saturday night and entered with a .259 average, 12 homers, .724 OPS, and 99 OPS+ (100 is considered league average). He also was one of the Phillies’ few semi-productive hitters, going 15-for-48 (.313) with one homer and a .773 OPS in his last 12 games.
But Girardi dropped him to eighth in the order and was irritated by his poor slide into third base Thursday night, signs that perhaps he’s ready to give Moniak more of an opportunity over the season’s final 20 games.
J.T. Realmuto said last weekend that his sore right shoulder was feeling better. Girardi relayed the other day that Realmuto told him the same thing. But the All-Star catcher dragged an 18-for-84 funk, including 1-for-12 in his last four games, into Saturday night.
“It’s just off. His timing’s off,” Girardi said. “It’s almost like he’s in between. He’s a little behind the fastball and a little ahead of the breaking ball, and that’s like the worst place to be, right? If you can only hit one or the other, you’re better off than being in between.”
Girardi gave Realmuto a night off Thursday. But Realmuto has resumed his usual heavy workload behind the plate. After starting three games at first base and missing consecutive games with an ankle injury, he has started six of the last eight games behind the plate.
The Phillies reinstated outfielder Matt Joyce from the injured list and called up right-hander Adonis Medina from Lehigh Valley. They optioned relievers Enyel De Los Santos and Ramón Rosso. ... Rookie Matt Vierling became the 11th player to bat leadoff for the Phillies this season, joining Herrera (46 games), Andrew McCutchen (43), Jean Segura (34), Jankowski (four), Brad Miller (three), Freddy Galvis (two), Luke Williams (two), Realmuto (two), and Roman Quinn (one). ... Larry Bowa, who managed the Phillies in 2001, took part in a pregame ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. ... Aaron Nola (7-8, 4.57 ERA) will start the series finale Sunday against Rockies right-hander Ryan Feltner (0-1, 20.25).