Joe Girardi is trying something different with the Phillies’ lineup.
He flipped Rhys Hoskins and Jean Segura in the No. 2 and 7 spots, respectively, before Sunday night’s series finale against the Braves at Truist Park in Atlanta. Hoskins hit seventh when he made his big league debut on Aug. 10, 2017. It is the only other time in 430 career starts that Hoskins has hit lower than fourth in the lineup.
But the switch made sense for Girardi, who kept everybody else where they typically are in the lineup. Hoskins entered the game slashing .233/.283/.488 with a .771 OPS this season, while batting .171 with a .480 OPS in his last 12 games. Segura is slashing .391/.411/.536 with a .947 OPS.
“I just don’t think you can ignore what Jean is doing,” Girardi said. “He’s been so good vs. right-handers and left-handers, so I just flip flopped them. As I told Rhys, it’s not a permanent thing, but I think sometimes when a guy has swung the bat for a substantial period of time really well, I think sometimes you have to make adjustments.”
Catch-22 on double switches
Girardi double switched twice in Saturday night’s wild 8-7 loss in 12 innings to the Braves. He brought in Sam Coonrod to replace Vince Velasquez in the sixth and put Coonrod seventh in the lineup, removing first baseman Brad Miller from the game. Scott Kingery entered to play third base, while Alec Bohm moved from third to first. Kingery hit ninth, taking Velasquez’s spot.
Girardi then brought José Alvarado into the game to replace Coonrod in the seventh. Nick Maton entered to replace Segura at second. Maton hit seventh, replacing Coonrod, and Alvarado hit second.
Segura was 3-for-4 when he left the game. The No. 2 hole left two runners on base the rest of the way. Kingery went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He left three runners on base. He is batting .083 (1-for-12) with six strikeouts this season.
“Sometimes if you don’t close the game out it can cost you,” Girardi said. “But I’m not planning for extra innings. That’s not what I’m planning for. I knew that I needed multiple innings out of Coonrod and Alvarado possibly. It kind of forced my hand, just because of where we were. … I don’t necessarily want to make double switches, but sometimes your hand is forced because of your pitching.”
Neris in the spotlight
Héctor Neris had a 1.88 ERA and six saves in seven opportunities in 15 appearances before he blew a save in the ninth inning Saturday. Of the 17 closers with at least seven save opportunities before Saturday, Neris ranked eighth in ERA.
Girardi said Saturday that he planned to stick with Neris. He reiterated that stance on Sunday.
“I’ve said all along that I prefer the roles and I prefer to have Alvarado in a spot where I can unleash him when you’re facing the toughest left-handed hitters,” Girardi said. “Coonrod against right-handers and Kintzler against right-handers. It’s the reason we chose to do this. If you look at Héctor’s numbers before last night, they’re pretty darn good. We can make a lot of one outing. I know he’s lost some games, but it’s been a tie game with a runner on second with nobody out. I haven’t made any changes. I haven’t thought about making any changes. Héctor made a bad pitch last night. That can happen in the seventh, too. It really comes down to execution.”