July 20, 2016
After an interesting two-week stretch before the All-Star break, the Phillies offense is back looking like what it is, the second worst offense in baseball behind the woeful Atlanta Braves, and so the team’s most productive offensive player was on the bench for Wednesday night’s game at Citizens Bank Park.
Yes, Odubel Herrera, the team’s lone All-Star at last week’s Midsummer Classic in San Diego, is on the bench for tonight’s game against the Marlins. But it would appear that Herrera, perhaps unlike the rest of his teammates, could have used a break last week.
After 94 games and 401 plate appearances, roughly two-thirds of the season, Herrera’s overall numbers looks just fine: .285/.369/.416. But during the Phillies current three-game losing streak, when they’ve scored a grand total of three runs, their leadoff hitter has gone just 2-for-13 with one walk and four strikeouts.
And so manager Pete Mackanin felt it was as good of a time as any to give Herrera a breather. Peter Bourjos is starting in center field in Herrera’s place.
“It kind of started right when he was named to the All-Star team,” Mackanin said. “I don't know if... maybe that was a goal and he started just relaxing a little bit. You can't do that in the game. You have to keep battling every day. Once you get into a little funk, it's hard to battle your way out of.”
Herrera is 4-for-36 (.111) in the Phillies last nine games. But his slump extends beyond the week prior to the break.
Since June 1, Herrera has hit .247/.300/.380 in 43 games (40 starts). As Mackanin mentioned, however, Herrera went through a similar stretch between mid-May and mid-June last season.
So Herrera’s current struggles aren’t something he’s particularly worried about.
“I'm not concerned about it in the big picture,” Mackanin said. “But right now, I'd just as soon as wish he wasn't going through it. He'll come out of it. When we first faced the Cubs (over Memorial Day weekend), they started pounding him inside. He started looking inside more, which took him off his game. Since then, he's kind of struggled to get back into it.”
While there is still plenty of time left in the season for Herrera to get right again, there is at least one troubling stat from his recent cold stretch: after drawing 38 walks in his first 54 games through the season’s first two months, more walks than he had in the entirety of the 2015 season, Herrera has just eight walks in his last 40 games over the last 6 1/2 weeks.
“It was surprising that he had so many walks (earlier in the year) because he is such a free swinger,” Mackanin said. “I was kind of stumped as to why he was doing that. You can't forget about your plate discipline. When you get into a slump, you come out of that discipline and you start swinging at pitches you shouldn't be swinging at. That's where he's at right now. A good 3-for-4 day kind of brings you right out of it. That's what he needs.”
Herrera won’t get the chance on Wednesday, but will almost certainly be back atop the Phillies lineup when they wrap up their four-game series with the Marlins on Thursday night.