"We've got to get Ike going," Collins said. "We're heading into May here, and we need to get him swinging the bat like he's capable of. I don't know if he's trying to put too much pressure on himself to hit homers, but I just said, 'You know what? Maybe it's time to get him to relax a little bit.' When he starts swinging like he's capable of or like we saw in the second half, I'll move him back in that four hole, because I just think that's our best lineup. But Lucas is swinging great, so I just made the switch."
Davis entered Thursday's play batting .169 with a .260 on-base percentage and .308 slugging mark. Though he still bashed three home runs over his first 73 plate appearances, he also struck out 22 times -- roughly once every three trips to the plate.
Contrast that to Duda, who entered Thursday's play ranking third in the National League with a 1.099 OPS. He hit .324 with a 1.235 OPS over his previous 12 games, slugging four home runs and walking as many times (11) as he struck out.
Tack on Duda's superior career numbers against lefties -- both this year and lifetime -- and Thursday's matchup against Hyun-Jin Ryu became the perfect opportunity for Collins to make a switch.
"This guy's got very, very good numbers against left-handed hitters," the manager said of Ryu. "But I thought it was important with the way Lucas is swinging, that we keep his bat in the lineup. I wanted somebody in the middle of the lineup in case they go to that 'pen that can protect David [Wright] and do some damage. Lucas seemed to be that guy."