3 post-MLB trade deadline moves Phillies must make
The Philadelphia Phillies can smell the postseason now. They are 63-49 after winning a thrilling away game against the New York Mets, holding them to one run and beating them in extra innings. A season that once looked like another mediocre campaign is starting to show some real promise. They are in the driver’s seat to clinch a playoff berth.
Philadelphia made some solid moves at the trade deadline, bolstering their pitching depth with Noah Syndergaard and David Robertson and adding center fielder Brandon Marsh. Interim manager Rob Thomson has the team playing very well despite Bryce Harper’s extended absence. With Kyle Schwarber now injured, likely not for the long term, they will have to keep it up.
Now that this Phillies roster is essentially finalized for the remainder of the season, the front office can pool all its resources to maximize its chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Here are three things they should do down the stretch of the season.
3 post-MLB trade deadline moves Phillies must make
3. Move Alec Bohm up in the batting order
With Harper and Schwarber sidelined, the Phillies’ lineup will need to be at its very best. One key way to optimize it is to put Alec Bohm near the top of the lineup.
Bohm’s .292 batting average is the highest among all everyday players aside from Harper. His on-base percentage isn’t that strong (just .327) but is still among the best on the team. Thomson should move Bohm up to one of the first two spots in the lineup while Schwarber is recovering and even consider making him the leadoff guy when Schwarber gets back, putting the National League’s home-run king behind him.
Getting a contact hitter like Bohm to set the table and make the defense work before the real sluggers come up would be in Philadelphia’s best interest. Getting players on base to set the table for the real power hitters, especially with someone fairly fast, should help them generate runs.
The last Philadelphia Phillie with more hits in July than Alec Bohm was Jimmy Rollins:
Bohm (2022) — 33 Hits in 20 Games
Rollins (2011) — 34 Hits in 25 Games pic.twitter.com/XCF9dFOQgE
— Phillies Muse (@Phillies_Muse) August 1, 2022
Thomson likes getting his sluggers near the top of the lineup. Schwarber hits leadoff and Rhys Hoskins has been second in the lineup in front of Bohm lately. A high-strikeout slugger makes sense in the two spot but, especially with two key hitters already out, the Phillies should move their first baseman to the third or fourth spot and let Bohm get the first crack at pitchers.
2. Make David Robertson the setup guy
Seranthony Dominguez eclipsing Corey Knebel as the Phillies’ closer has done wonders for the bullpen. The unit is no longer a total laughingstock, especially with the addition of Robertson. Philadelphia should heavily utilize the 37-year-old and get him into the setup man role for Dominguez.
Robertson has been fantastic so far with the Phillies. In four innings of work, he has shut out the opposition and allowed just one hit and one walk. The veteran is ready to make up for his failed first stint in Philly and has earned the right to get the ball when it truly counts. He should be prepared to be the setup guy for Dominguez, who is emerging as not just the best choice for closer but a very good one overall.
Dominguez has been getting the high-leverage looks as the season goes on and has crushed it. He has a 1.49 ERA on the season and, in the 18.1 innings since he last pitched before the final two innings, has a 0.98 ERA with 19 strikeouts and an opposing OPS of just .419.
Thomson already trusts Robertson in high-pressure situations, as proven by his game-entering leverage index already the highest on the team. Dominguez has been too lights-out to move with his role, but Robertson is proving to be an excellent pairing with him.
1. Move Castellanos to the back of the lineup when Harper and Schwarber return
This move won’t be possible until Harper is good to go again and Schwarber returns. Still, when they get back, the Phillies should drop Nick Castellanos back in the lineup.
Castellanos has disappointed in his first season with Philadelphia, his first after making the All-Star team last season. The power he displayed last season is nowhere to be seen, he is striking out more often and is walking less often. If the Phillies weren’t dealing with injuries to their key outfielders, it might be worth it to bench him.
At full strength, the Phillies outfield could feature Schwarber, Marsh and Harper with Darrick Hall as the designated hitter on the days that J.T. Realmuto lines up behind the plate. The star catcher would then be the DH when he isn’t catching.
However, because Harper may not be able to field for the rest of the season, Castellanos has to occupy a corner outfield spot. He is a much better hitter than Marsh (whose superior abilities on defense would earn him playing time in the center field spot) and Bryson Stott, so he should be relegated to a spot that is still before them. In a spot with lower expectations, Castellanos could bump his production up while Philly gets superior hitters more plate appearances.