Cody Asche’s Stock Rises; Freddy Galvis Stays Mired in a Slump
It took a 4-for-4 performance against the Toronto Blue Jays last night, but Cody Asche is back on the map. Asche singled twice, doubled, and hit this game-tying grand slam in the sixth inning off of Jays starter Drew Hutchison:
Asche had seen his playing time cut recently in favor of Freddy Galvis and Jayson Nix, and even with his impressive game against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, manager Ryne Sandberg is still likely to start Nix or Galvis against the left-handed Mark Buehrle in Toronto.
Make no mistake, however: Asche is back on the map. His 4-for-4 effort brought his average up to .257 from .214 and he now has the ninth-highest OPS among all Major League third basemen, minimum 70 plate appearances.
Asche started off the season slowly, carrying a .567 OPS in 52 PA over 18 games. Since April 24, however, Asche has a 1.117 OPS. This is the part where I’d normally throw in a couple heat maps to show you some possible explanations for his newfound success, but unfortunately the database for those is no bueno for the time being, so we’ll have to go back to the Stone Ages and rely on things like OPS. Ugh.
Galvis is on the other side of the coin. Playing at shortstop in place of Jimmy Rollins, who was dealing with a sore groin, Galvis went 0-for-2 and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning. Why? With one out and Marlon Byrd on second base in the second inning, Galvis grounded into a fielder’s choice. Byrd tried to get caught in a lengthy run-down between second and third base, but was not quick enough to do so. Foolishly, Galvis had strayed too far off the first base bag and was in no man’s land when the tag was applied to Byrd, and he too was caught in a run-down for the third and final out of the inning. In his second at-bat, Galvis weakly grounded a 0-1 change-up to second base to lead off the fifth inning.
With runners on first and second base and two outs, down by four runs, Sandberg opted to pinch-hit Mayberry for Galvis and it turned out to be the correct call. Mayberry drew a walk to load the bases, bringing up Asche, and you know what happened. Nix took over for Galvis at shortstop and struck out in his only at-bat.
Galvis has two paltry hits, both singles, in 41 plate appearances. His slash line is now a disappointing .053/.098/.053. Outfielder Darin Ruf has played in a handful of games in extended spring training and could be ready to start a rehab assignment at some point in the near future. Ruf has been sidelined with an oblique injury suffered during spring training, but may be able to return before the end of the month.
If the Phillies are growing impatient with Galvis and don’t want to wait for Ruf, they could call up Cesar Hernandez from Double-A. Hernandez has been learning third base and the team might be reticent to interrupt his progress, but he has been hitting well as his .914 OPS illustrates. Phillies pinch-hitters have posted an OPS 60 points below the league average. Galvis could go down to Triple-A in an attempt to turn things around, and Hernandez could take over as the utility infielder.
The good news for the Phillies is that their third base situation — Asche — has seen improvement to counterbalance the struggles Galvis has been experiencing. They would have been stuck between a rock and a hard place if Asche continued struggling while Galvis was popping up weakly in every other at-bat. But for now, the Galvis problem is manageable and the Phillies have a couple of reasonable options at their disposal.