Phils confident Cutch, Didi will improve

April 25th, 2021

Joe Girardi loves to think about different lineup combinations, but no matter how many times the manager is asked about the Phillies’ top spot, he finds there are few options outside Andrew McCutchen.

One might be Jean Segura, but he landed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday with a strained right quadriceps. There is no timetable for his return.

McCutchen has started 17 games in the leadoff spot, including Saturday night’s game against the Rockies at Coors Field. Matt Joyce has started three.

“After that, I’m not sure where you could go,” Girardi said before the game. “I could toy around with some different people, obviously, against right-handers and left-handers, but those are probably the two best candidates for us. I thought Cutch’s at-bats were a little bit better yesterday, so hopefully it gets him going. But we need to get him going.”

Maybe McCutchen carried those improved at-bats from Friday into Saturday’s 7-5 victory over the Rockies. He went 1-for-3 with two walks and one run scored. The Phillies would welcome more of that because their leadoff hitters entered Saturday slashing .191/.333/.279. Their .613 OPS ranked 25th in baseball. McCutchen entered the game in a 1-for-14 slump. He is slashing .164/.316/.246 with a .562 OPS after Saturday's performance.

Didi’s defense

Didi Gregorius said he has not played defense the way he expects.

He entered Saturday at -5 outs above average at shortstop, according to Statcast, which ranked 32nd out of 34 qualified shortstops. He is last among 26 qualified shortstops with -7 defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs.

“No, I’m not where I want to be,” Gregorius said Friday. “I’m not feeling the way I want to feel, but I’m getting through the process with what needs to happen day by day.”

“I think it’s fixable,” Girardi said. “I just don’t think he’s been as smooth as we’ve seen Didi. I know he’s capable of playing much better. He understands that, too. It’s just through reps and work, and we’ll give him that.”

Miller could be available

The Phillies scratched infielder Brad Miller from Friday’s lineup 70 minutes before first pitch. Girardi said Miller felt better Saturday and might be available.

Miller tied a career high with four hits on Wednesday against the Giants.

Extra bases

• Girardi told infielder Nick Maton to take fly balls everywhere in the outfield, just because of the nature of National League games. “He hasn’t done it really, but I think he has the physical tools to do it,” Girardi said.

• Left-hander José Alvarado and Matt Moore have been sidelined since Monday because of COVID-19 protocols. Both are in Philadelphia, trying to keep their arms in shape by throwing against nets or whatever else is available. Both could rejoin the team Monday in St. Louis. Girardi said he will not hesitate to use Alvarado on Monday, if he is available. The Phillies will have to see where Moore is physically before he rejoins the rotation.