Endy Chavez plays his way into bigger role with Rangers

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Endy Chavez missed all of last season following knee surgery and began this year at Triple-A, but the 33-year-old outfielder has hit .326 in 43 games since joining the Rangers in mid-May and manager Ron Washington is ready to give him an expanded role.

Chavez is a left-handed hitter and has faced almost exclusively right-handed pitchers, but with platoon partner Craig Gentry injured Washington sees no problem letting Chavez face lefties too, telling Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:

Endy don’t care. When I got two guys that I feel is quality like Endy and Gentry, one against a lefty and one against a righty, it gives me a chance to get both of them out there. But Endy don’t care.

And you know what? He’s right. Almost all left-handed hitters are less productive against left-handed pitchers and that might be true of Chavez if given a long enough sample of playing time. However, he’s hitting .500 off lefties in limited action this year and is a career .291 hitter with a .703 OPS versus lefties compared to .269 with a .686 OPS versus righties. Of course, his career totals versus lefties consists of just 521 plate appearances, so it’s hardly definitive proof that Chavez handles them better than righties.

And while the handedness of the pitchers he’s allowed to face matters, the bigger question for the Rangers is whether Chavez will turn back into the same guy who hit just .274 with a .664 OPS in the three seasons preceding his knee injury. Washington is riding the hot hand right now, but if Chavez reverts back to his career norms the Rangers might not be so keen about playing him against lefties or righties.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.