Long Overdue: Utley and Howard Split Up in Lineup

Rob McElhenney Talks Utley, Howard and PhilliesCharlie Manuel made a noticeable change to his lineup today at Citizens Bank Park.

He finally split up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard with right-handed-hitting Michael Young.

I think it was long overdue.

Theoretically, it should make life more difficult for left-handed pitchers. Utley entered the game against the Pirates hitting .125 (2-for-16) with one triple, one RBI, two walks and five strikeouts against lefties this season. Howard entered the night hitting .111 (2-for-18) with two doubles, one RBI, one walk and 10 strikeouts against them.

But their struggles against lefties are not coming from a small sample size. Utley has hit .197 with a .634 OPS against lefties from 2011-13. Howard has hit .199 with a .608 OPS against lefties in that span.

They essentially have been automatic outs against lefties for two-plus seasons. Young has not been much better this year, hitting .200 (3-for-15) against lefties, although he has a much more than respectable .832 OPS against them from 2011-13. But simply having a right-handed hitter between Utley and Howard will make opposing managers think a little more late in games. Before Wednesday, managers could just run a left-handed reliever to the mound to face Utley and Howard in succession. Now the lefty will have to face a right-handed hitter, or the manager has to remove him from the game, if he does not want him facing Young.

“I can see how that would be beneficial,” Utley said.

It also makes perfect sense to keep this look against right-handed starting pitchers, too, but Manuel was noncommittal.

“I could,” he said. “It depends how we match up.”

He absolutely should use this look against right-handers, too. By having Utley and Howard hit back-to-back against a right-handed starter the Phillies essentially are banking on getting to the starter in the first five or six innings. If they don’t, which often has been the case this season, things get easy again for the opposing manager late in the game.

11 Comments

Wow, I gotta admit that I am surprised that Charlie is actually pulling the trigger on this, especially since we are still in May.

Is the lame duck status finally starting to make him check his decisions for logical reasoning now? No matter why he is doing it, I’m glad it happened. I honestly never even considered it because I thought Charlie would never move Ut out of the 3 hole. Always thought he was just forever stuck in the whole “your best hitter bats 3rd” theory.

If Michael Young can continue hitting this consistently there won’t be much of a drop off in the 3 hole. And then we will have both 2 and 3 hole hitters able to hit to RF.

I LIKE IT!

It’s about time.

Utley is a natural #3 hitter, but making life so easy for opposing managers in the late innings has never made much sense to me.

I still say that the Phils need to bring back Darin Ruf. THAT is the right-handed power hitter to spark the Phils’ offense.

I wonder why it took Charile so long too make this move of spliting up Utley & Howard with Young in the middle.

He is old school man, it was hard for him to move his best hitter out of the spot where the best hitter usually hits. I am actually proud of him for doing it at all.

Well what took so long ? Ruben has been the GM the last 2 yrs and doing the job on his and for those 2 yrs he’s done a horrible job.He has yet to address a power hitting right handed bat. Ben Revere is a great guy personally,but let’s get real here folks. He ,hasn’t hit a home run in his career which is over 1,000 at bats and hasn’t hit 40 extra bases .He’s a terrific fielder although his arm is very lacking. The outfield has been a mess for years and some of the bullpen pitchers he brought in are a joke.If the owners don’t relieve him of his duties then maybe it’s time for the fans to move on because these owners wait until hell freezes over before making a change.Maybe if the players stopped swinging at the 1st pitch it may help.Did any of the batting coaches speak to Revere about his stance ?

Fans are already moving on. About 106,000 short so far this year. Now hovering at the 32,000 per game. Approaching, the depths of Atlanta Braves attendance levels. Figuring at a modest $40 per fan, this represents $4.2 million in lost revenue.

Pingback: Revere Gets Break, Should Hit Eighth Upon Return « The Zo Zone

What If…………..
. What if Ryan Howard is injured, goes on the DL and they bring up Ruf.

. What if Chooch comes off the DL and enters the lineup on a hot streak.

. They acquire Rick Ankiel from the Astros, not hard to do, he has 5 homers

and 11 rbi and plug him into CF. Then they can send Revere down to single

A to learn how to slap hit enough to play in the bigs

. Finally what if like taking the car keys from your aging uncle because he is just

too old to drive anymore they move Cholly out and hand the keys to Ryne Sand-

berg who immediately has a team meeting declaring “if you don’t hustle we’ll find

somebody who does.

Would that shake up this team enough to make one last run? All these suggestions

are very do-able and not just a wish list.

Charlie is old school. That means your best hitter (chase) hits 3rd and your biggest RBI hitter (theoretically Ryan) hits 4th. In the spring, I wasn’t sure if Chase’s power would return, so I had him batting 2nd and Michael batting 3rd, followed by Ryan.

It is a misrepresentation to say that this Utley-Howard problem with lefties has been “automatic outs for TWO-PLUS seasons.” Both players missed more than half of 2012, and Utley was on the DL extensively in 2011 too. So you are actually not even close to two full seasons for both players as far as sample size. Neither player has had a chance to work on his game against lefty pitching that much until this Spring… during the Spring, they both did fine against lefties and appeared to have answered the lefty problem by the end of ST. They both have since fallen into funks against lefties, so yeah, let’s work on that with the new hitting coaches core and consider some mods in the lineup to combat it.

But I think it is overkill to have Utley hitting 2nd and Young 3rd against righties. Who gives a ship about the opposing manager’s “strategery” in later innings, compared to putting your most potent lineup out there for the first 6 frames? Young is a good hitter but so is Utley and Utley is definitely showing more slugging power than Young so far. I think it is silly to have Utley as the 2nd biggest slugger on the team batting second, especially against a righty starting pitcher. In this new “Era of the Pitcher”, the best teams have made it top priority to build a lights out bullpen to effectively “shorten the game to 7-8 innings”. The best chance of scoring runs against such teams (ie, the ones with winning records whom you are competing with for playoff spots) is in the first 6 innings, and more specifically during the 2nd and third times around the batting order… That means you want the lineup to be set up against the starting pitcher, NOT for the later innings when youre likely to face their lights out set-up men and lights out closer anyway… To turn it around, do we really give a rats azs about who the other teams throw up there against Adams and Pap? No. We expect these guys to just handle it, and with few exceptions they do.

So let’s not embellish in our opinionated column, nor get too carried away with all the armchair managerial pontification.

It’s nearly impossible to find experienced people about this subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks|

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