You’re looking for a shakeup, but Charlie Manuel doesn’t work that way. After watching the Phillies lineup plunge back into the depths of their oft-seen slumps this year, there needs to be a mix-up, right? Don’t bet on it.
Going into Game 4 tonight, you’ll be lucky to see a switch like Ben Francisco in for the struggling Raul Ibanez. Manuel already spoke his peace following last night’s game saying it’s too late for any moved to be made. You go with what got you here, Charlie says. That faith in his players has served him, and them, quite well for several seasons now. I expect to see that same lineup trot out there again this evening.
However, it’s not just Ibanez having a down postseason. As a unit, 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position is on the lot of them. All players in the lineup are guilty of flopping at an inopportune time. Take a look:
Shane Victorino: 2-for-11 in the series with one extra base hit and one steal. Not exactly what you want to see from your leadoff hitter.
Chase Utley: A error that wasn’t in Game 3, plus a few really bad at-bats that resulted in weakly grounded balls. Utley 1-for-10, although he does have three walks and two steals. HIs presence has been felt on the basepaths, but that’s about it.
Placido Polanco: 2-for-11 with no walks. The patience that made him so valuable is missing.
Ryan Howard: He’s 4-for-11 with two doubles. The problem is, he hasn’t knocked in a run, meaning there is little power. This from a guy who six home runs over the past two postseasons. Unacceptable in that regard, although he’s really the only Phillies player somewhat-consistently getting on base.
Jayson Werth: Although he does have five strikeouts and has looked lost at times at the plate (including throwing his bat like he had walked on a ball right down the middle) his three walks almost make up for that. Werth’s 2-for-9 at the dish is sad, but who’s numbers aren’t right now?
Jimmy Rollins: He had the hardest hit ball in Game 3, smashing one off the wall in the ninth off Brian Wilson. But he still doesn’t look right. All of J-Roll’s damage was done in Game 2 when he knocked in four runs. Do you move him to the leadoff spot if he’s the only guy who has done anything with runners in scoring position this series? Tough call.
Raul Ibanez: He’s mired in an 0-for-14 slump, including 0-for-11 in this series. There have been calls made to put Ben Francisco in the lineup as a shot of life, but that’s a pipe dream. Charlie will stick by his guy, even though his bat looks considerably slower. Ibanez has just one walk and five strikeouts. Would a move to eighth spark him?
Carlos Ruiz: Hard to find much to bitch about with Chooch. He’s been handling the pitching staff the way he normally does, which gives him an edge over most of the guys. He and Werth are the only two with home runs in this series, but he also has been aboard just twice. Top to bottom it’s ugly.
You should be used to this, right? It’s what we’ve seen all year. Perhaps they just peaked too early – at the end of the regular season as they were locking up the National League East? That momentum hasn’t really carried into the playoffs offensively, even though they found a way to score 13 runs against Cincinnati. That final tally was more a mirage than anything; it was clearly the Reds defense that aided them in scoring all of those runs.
So, the options are basically limited. At some point, one or two of these guys has to pick up the slack. But in case they don’t, you’re already prepared for it.