While it looked like the Phillies were in for a laugher, they fought back on Sunday to end the game with the tying run on base. In a definite moral victory, the Phillies continued to fight in their 10-8 loss to the Blue Jays.
Chase Anderson, in what turned out to be his worst start ever, pitched 1.1 innings, giving up 7 runs. The Phillies were already down 8-0 in the second inning, and could have easily thrown the towel in. But behind decent pitching from the bullpen, the Phillies were able to chip away at the lead.
It was a definitely a weird game, not without its typical Phillies’ drama (I’m looking at you, Joe!). To me, however, the most important development to come out of it is the continued success of INF Nick Maton.
Prior to the season, the Phillies had a major need at the bench infielder role. Scott Kingery was expecting to take a step forward this season, but, after starting in Triple-A, has been absolutely dismal. Prior to his IL placement, Kingery was 1/19 with 12 strikeouts on the season. His swing needs to be totally rebuilt, and I don’t know if the Phillies can afford to do that with him.
Maton, who’s strong start culminated with a two HRs yesterday in Dunedin, has been a revelation for this Phillies team to start the season. Ranked No. 12 on Full Scale Philly’s Top-15 Prospect list, he is an absolute gamer. He has a smooth stroke from the left side of the plate with a confident approach to go with it. In 79 at-bats this year, he is slashing a cool .316/.341/.468. There is definitely some swing-and-miss to his game, but he always seems to have good at-bats.
While he is not a defensive wizard, Maton can play at least average defense at three positions across the infield. The confidence he shows at the plate also carries over on the field, and he is capable of making the basic plays needed. The 2017 7th round pick has really impressed fans with every facet of his game.
In fact, he has impressed me so much so that I think his manager needs to have him in the lineup everyday.
With all of the injuries the Phillies have had, it has been easy to find at-bats for him. Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius have both missed time at points this season. As the team gets healthier, though, it will only become harder to get him plate appearances. While Odubel Herrera has played well recently in CF, I think having Maton take reps out there will only help this team.
Herrera is not the long-term answer in CF, and will almost certainly find himself in another slump at some point. Maton could be a big part of the Phillies’ future, and playing CF only improves his versatility. The team has had him shagging fly balls recently, and he is athletic enough to play in the outfield.
The Phillies have shown how streaky there offense can be. The best way to combat streaks is by having good at-bats and seeing pitches. Maton sees a lot of pitches and makes good contact. Not only that, but Maton has been lights out against lefties this year.
That pace will probably not continue, but he puts together good at-bats no matter who he is facing. Maton credits the success against lefties to his time in the satellite camp last year. Having a full summer of facing southpaws gave Maton an incredible amount of experience and it shows. He is exactly the kind of bat you want at the bottom of your order.
Prior to the season, many thought Nick Maton wasn’t going to have a big impact on this team. Now, he is making hard for the team to put him on the bench.
Frankly, I just don’t know how you can take him out of the lineup at all.
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