Phillies’ leadoff hitters are batting just .233 with a .283 on-base percentage this season, so manager Charlie Manuel is trying something different tonight against the Brewers.
Per CSNPhilly.com, Michael Young will bat leadoff tonight for the first time since 2004. The 36-year-old has made 242 starts out of the leadoff spot during his career, but all of them were during his first four full seasons in the big leagues.
Young only has 11 extra-base hits through 53 games this season, but he has been more patient than usual, walking at a rate of 11.6 percent while swinging just 41 percent of the time. He has a 6.7 percent walk rate for his career and has never topped 7.9 percent (2009) in a season. Who knows if he’ll keep it up, but the increased patience is welcome development given that he’s no longer driving the ball like he used to.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.