PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler is one of baseball's most progressive thinkers, but he is not planning on starting a game with a reliever such as Seranthony Dominguez, Luis Garcia or Edubray Ramos on the mound anytime soon.The Rays started relief pitcher Sergio Romo twice over the weekend against
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler is one of baseball's most progressive thinkers, but he is not planning on starting a game with a reliever such as Seranthony Dominguez, Luis Garcia or Edubray Ramos on the mound anytime soon.
The Rays started relief pitcher Sergio Romo twice over the weekend against the Angels, who have a right-handed-heavy lineup. He struck out six of the nine batters he faced over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. His success allowed the Rays' starters to start against a weaker portion of the Angels' lineup. It has many in baseball wondering if other teams will employ that tactic in the future, including the forward-thinking Phillies.
"I haven't even thought about that," Kapler said Tuesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "I don't know that that would be even on the radar frankly. I can promise you it hasn't been thought through."
Kapler explained why Monday.
"It's not going to work with all personalities," he said. "One of the things we've said pretty consistently is we need to be responsive to emotion and how that impacts the personalities on a club."
MLB.com's Mike Petriello wrote about why it made sense for the Rays. First, Romo dominates right-handed hitters (.194/.263/.387 line against them since the start of 2017), and the Angels have had right-handed hitters bat in the top four spots of their lineup 97 percent of the time this season. It is a best-case scenario for Romo.
Second, the Angels do not have a stable of left-handed hitters to offset Romo's advantage against righties. They are highly unlikely to hit Kole Calhoun ahead of Michael Trout, Justin Upton or Andrelton Simmons to face Romo one time in the first inning. (Lefty hitter Shohei Ohtani was unavailable both days.)
Third, the Rays don't have five strong starters.
The Phillies, however, like their rotation with Aaron Nola, Jacob Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin. If this were 2015, when the Phillies started pitchers such as Jerome Williams, David Buchanan, Sean O'Sullivan, Chad Billingsley, Severino Gonzalez and Kevin Correia, it might make more sense. But not now.
"I think there's some gamesmanship there, but I also think there's some respect," Kapler said. "If we get indication from a club that they're going to have a starter going the next day, we're going to put our lineup in to account for that. But the [Angels are] not going to change the first three hitters in their lineup because those are the first three hitters in their lineup."
Williams playing more lately
Nick Williams has started five of the past seven games after starting only 15 of the first 39. Kapler's use of Williams and Aaron Altherr remains a hot topic of conversation, considering both have the talent to play on an everyday basis.
Kapler said Altherr is likely to start Wednesday against Braves left-hander Luiz Gohara.
"Nick's had some really good at-bats," Kapler said. "Teammate behavior has been off the charts. I'm not sure if everybody in this room has read his quotes on him watching Aaron coming in to hit that big bomb yesterday, but they're really enlightening. This genuine excitement, happiness for his teammates. He's identifying the fact that as long as they're both performing well and the team is winning, he understands that's what's best for the team.
"They understand that they're really responsible for how often they get into the lineup. If one of those guys were so dominant that we couldn't take them out of the lineup, that would probably happen, but right now they're just performing admirably, and we're able to mix and match with them."
Shortstop J.P. Crawford (strained right forearm) continued his defensive work in Clearwater, Fla. Right-hander Pat Neshek (strained right forearm) played catch again. Kapler said it went well.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.