Losing Faith in the Cody Asche Experiment
Third baseman Cody Asche hasn’t been in the Phillies’ starting lineup since Sunday’s series finale in Colorado against the Rockies. Asche has compiled a meager .567 OPS in 52 plate appearances and has been subpar defensively in the early going. As illustrated here, the Phillies have had the worst production at the hot corner out of all 30 Major League teams.
Two of the last three starters the Phillies have faced have been left-handed, so that may be why the switch-hitting Freddy Galvis has started twice and the right-handed Jayson Nix has made one start over those three games while Asche has sat on the bench. However, earlier in the season, Asche started against two left-handers in a row in the Rangers’ Robbie Ross and the Cubs’ Travis Wood.
Could the Phillies be losing faith in the Asche experiment already?
Asche could be back in the lineup tonight against the softer-throwing Dan Haren, as compared to last night’s starter Zack Greinke. At any rate, Asche has simply looked overmatched against Major League pitching.
Against lefties, Asche has only hit one ball hard, a fly ball out to left-center against Wood at Wrigley Field. Against right-handers, if Asche doesn’t get a pitch under his hands inside, he doesn’t do much with it:
Against both sides, he doesn’t handle breaking stuff well. He has swung and missed at 10.9 percent of fastballs, but 31.6 percent of “soft” pitches. He’s gone out of the zone much more often to do so, with a 12.8 percent “chase” rate against fastballs and 36.5 percent against “soft” stuff.
Shockingly enough, those rates were worse in 2013 when he had better results.
Despite Maikel Franco‘s slow start with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he still portends to be the Phillies’ everyday third baseman in 2015, meaning that Asche’s utility is limited to mostly 2014. The Phillies’ interest in having Asche grow is to make him a reliable back-up option and to increase his potential trade value.
If the true goal of the Phillies’ front office is for the Phillies to actively compete for the playoffs in 2014, then Asche’s leash should be very short. In fact, they should already be platooning him with Nix and Galvis, which seems to be what they have been doing on an infrequent basis. Furthermore, they should be searching for a trade partner to add a more productive platoon partner. (I suggested Danny Valencia of the Royals.) But if their goal is to extract future value from him, then they should continue to start Asche on a regular basis, letting him take his lumps and learn in the process.