Bad Luck Continues, Aaron Altherr Out For Longer
I feel like I keep repeating this, but the 2017 Phillies are a bad baseball team, but they also are a really unlucky one. Before the weekend, they were poised to have Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, and Cesar Hernandez healthy, and have Howie Kendrick out on a rehab assignment. Then Aaron Altherr hurt his hamstring, and today Matt Gelb rained on the parade some more by reporting that the injury was more serious than initially diagnosed and that Altherr would be out for 3-4 weeks. The injury robs the Phillies of one of their best bats and ruins the Williams-Herrera-Altherr outfield that gave fans a reason to watch every night. With the Phillies now down another bat, it was natural to turn to farm to look for another prospect to come join the Phillies.
Right now the AAA Phillies have Dylan Cozens and Andrew Pullin in their outfield. Cozens is on the 40 man roster and is currently tied for the organizational home run lead at 22. The only problem is that Cozens is also hitting .241/.319/.480 right now, and currently has a 32.6% strikeout percentage. Cozens looked like he might have turned things around with a .330/.386/.689 May, but since he is hitting .238/.330/.438 in the 45 games since then. I don’t think it is a hot take to say Cozens isn’t ready for the majors. From a long term perspective, this has been a down year for Cozens, but the giant slugger just turned 23, so even if he still needs another year in AAA he will still be young when he reaches the majors.
After hitting .308/.368/.556 with Reading, Andrew Pullin is only hitting .198/.258/.337 in AAA. The good news for Pullin is that it is only 24 games and his strikeout rate is not off the charts. His quality of contact is down, which has led to lower power production. Additionally, Pullin can only play left field and is not on the 40 man roster, which makes him less appealing for a short term call up.
This means the farm system is not going to help the Phillies. Right now the Phillies don’t need to make a move with Hernandez having come off the DL for Altherr at the start of the Miami series. Howie Kendrick is starting a rehab assignment today, but given his setbacks so far, it is hard to put an end time to that assignment. Even when he does come back, the Phillies will be looking to trade him as soon as they can. Right now this means the Phillies outfield options are Daniel Nava, Cameron Perkins, and Ty Kelly for the next 3 to 4 weeks. So far the Phillies have used just Perkins and Nava. Perkins has struggled greatly against RHPs, and is 2 for 20 with no XBHs and 8 strikeouts to 1 walk. He has been more playable against left handed pitchers, but his .200/.245/.244 line shows how much he has struggled. On the other hand, Daniel Nava has been good on the year and is hitting .300/.395/.400 overall. Nava is powering his line with a .355/.440/.486 line vs RHPs, but he has struggled greatly vs left handed pitchers. In the goal is to win games (as opposed to develop Perkins) the Phillies should run a Perkins-Nava platoon.
As a consequence of the Altherr injury, Nick Williams is now the backup center fielder. Additionally, the outfield depth makes it difficult for Mackanin to bench Williams or Odubel Herrera until Altherr or Kendrick is back. This means that Williams is going to see some tough matchups vs LHPs, which should be positive for his development, but not necessarily his stat line.
No matter how the outfield shakes out, the Altherr injury is a real downer for a team that is starting to come together enough to maybe not be a complete disaster for the last two and a half months.