Phillies Activate Bour, Demote Eflin to Triple-A Lehigh Valley
Eagles sign QB Christian Hackenberg to add depth

The Phillies Have a Bench and they Should Use It

The Phillies broke out of their 19-inning scoreless streak on Saturday night in the first inning.  Those runs had the Phillies hit the 500-run mark on the season.  That means the Phillies averaged 4.34 runs a game heading into Saturday night.  But with two shutouts in a row and the Phillies dropping winnable games, consistency has become a real issue.  But with a deep bench, the Phillies should have little patience for inconsistency.

It was not that long ago that the Phillies bench included the likes of Jesmuel Valentin, Trevor Plouffe, Dylan Cozens and Mitch Walding.  That meant that the Phillies had to let their starters play, and on top of that, those on the bench were no threat to supplant the starters.  But things have changed. The Phillies now have Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Bour and a healthy J.P. Crawford and speedster Roman Quinn has gotten on base and played strong defense so far.   

In other words, there are real options now should a starter struggle. That has been an issue thus far in 2018 for the Phillies. No one had a hotter month in any month of 2018 than Odubel Herrera did in 2018.  After batting .367 with an OPS of .953, Herrera began a skid in mid-May that continued to June.  Herrera batted just .236 in June.  Come August, Herrera is struggling again; in his first 27 August at bats, Herrera is batting just .185.

The Phillies would be well-served by giving some at bats to Quinn.  Quinn is batting .318 in his first 22 at bats, along with a walk and two stolen bases to accompany it.  Quinn's speed has helped him to three doubles already, not to mention the singles or walks he could stretch to a double with a stolen base.   Herrera has attempted just seven steals.

The struggles of Carlos Santana have often been noted, though overstated at times.  Santana has been better in August (.259, .627 OPS) than July (.189, .627 OPS), but there is room for the bench to get some opportunities.  The newly-acquired Bour has been particular effective against right-handed pitching and could improve the offense. Bour has 19 home runs, with 17 of them coming against right-handed pitching.   Santana has batted just .207 against right-handed pitching.   When the offense is quiet, Bour's presence in the lineup would mean that the Phillies are in win-now mode. 

Bour has been particularly effective against the division rival Atlanta Braves.  The Allentown Morning Call notes that Bour has a slash line of .304/.575/.652 against the Braves, to go along with 16 walks.  That OPS of .956 will come in handy for the Phillies when they face the Braves seven times in the last 11 games of the season.

The patience in sticking with their regulars will not be more important than winning. That may mean a break for Rhys Hoskins, too.  Hoskins snapped an 0 for 22 stretch on Saturday night.  While Hoskins has been one of the team's top performers, the weak bench has not allowed them to give him rest.  A day might be in order and the Phillies have the depth to do it.

The crafty roster maneuvering of sending starter Zach Eflin to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on paper essentially gave the Phillies an extra bench player for the next 10 days.  That was necessitated by having too much depth.  It is not a bad problem to have.  But the Phillies should begin to use that depth.

Whether the struggles are due to fatigue or other reasons, the Phillies need the sharpest roster on the field each night.  They are in the position of strength to be using that depth.  If the Phillies hope to avoid back-to-back shutouts and win the National League East, they must use it.

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