Odubel Herrera was not included in the Phillies’ starting lineup for Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Dodgers. It’s the fourth time this month that manager Pete Mackanin has benched Herrera. As CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reported last week, Mackanin is frustrated with Herrera’s declining plate discipline.
Aaron Altherr got the start in center field on Wednesday and that may be a theme before the end of the season. “I like Altherr in center field,” Mackanin said in Salisbury’s latest column. Mackanin continued, “[There’s] a good chance he’ll be the center fielder and we’ll move Odubel (to a corner outfield spot), but we’re not doing anything right now. The thought crossed my mind to make that switch this year — maybe in September, just to get Odubel familiarized with a corner.”
Herrera was selected by the Phillies from the Rangers in the Rule 5 draft two winters ago. He had played almost exclusively at second base but the Phillies moved him to center field in a move that paid big dividends. During the first half this year, Herrera hit .294/.378/.427 with 10 home runs, 33 RBI, 49 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 378 plate appearances and was the Phillies’ lone representative at the All-Star Game last month.
As the Phillies have a glut of outfield depth with Altherr, prospects Nick Williams and Roman Quinn, as well as Tyler Goeddel, Dylan Cozens, and others, Salisbury suggests the Phillies could try to trade Herrera this winter. It wouldn’t be unlike the Phillies, who traded a young cost-controlled reliever in Ken Giles to the Astros last winter. Of course, center fielders with a skill set like Herrera’s — contact, speed, plate discipline, average-or-better defense — are hard to come by, so the Phillies might prefer to hold onto the 24-year-old and hope he can continue to evolve.
With Aaron Nola on the disabled list, the Phillies will call up pitching prospect Jake Thompson to make his major league debut on Saturday against the Padres, CSN Philly reports.
Thompson, 22, was acquired from the Rangers along with five other players in the Cole Hamels trade last summer. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the Phillies’ fifth-best prospect. According to the scout reports, Thompson possesses four pitches that figure to be average or better in the big leagues: a fastball that can hit the mid-90’s, as well as a slider, a curve, and a change-up.
In 129 2/3 innings with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Thompson has put up a 2.50 ERA with an 87/37 K/BB ratio in 129 2/3 innings. He has been particularly dominant since the beginning of June, posting a 1.21 ERA and a 42/18 K/BB ratio in 74 1/3 innings across his last 11 starts.
Update (12:23 AM EDT): Franco has officially been credited with a single rather than a fielder’s choice out, per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
For those that aren’t familiar, “Merkle’s Boner” — get your mind out of the gutter: in this case, “boner” means “mistake” — refers to a baserunning mistake committed by New York Giants player Fred Merkle. Merkle never touched second base on what appeared to be a game-winning hit against the Cubs. Instead, the game ended in a tie and the Cubs went on to win the makeup game. The Cubs then went on to win the National League pennant by one game over the Giants.
Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr paid homage to “Merkle’s Boner” on Wednesday night. With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 12th inning against the Giants, the Phillies had the bases loaded with one out against reliever Jake Peavy. Maikel Franco, who had tied the game up at 4-4 in the eighth, ripped a single to center field. Center fielder Denard Span just let the ball roll by him as the game was decided then. Altherr, however, never touched second base, so the Giants got the out there. Had there been two outs instead of one, the Phillies’ game-winning run would’ve been erased. Instead, Altherr was simply ruled out and Franco’s hit was changed to a fielder’s choice out.
Fortunately for the Giants, the Dodgers got smoked by the Rockies, so they maintain a two-game lead in the NL West.
For more details on the Merkle incident, Baseball Reference has a great writeup.