Analysis

Amaro: Hernandez, Not Utley Best 2B, Billingsley Earns First W Since 2013

Before last night’s game between the Phillies and Dodgers, Ruben Amaro Jr. dropped a bombshell of sorts, stating that long-time second baseman Chase Utley would not be in the starting lineup even after he returns from the Disabled List.

Instead, 25-year-old Cesar Hernandez will continue to start with Utley sitting on the bench.

“As far as I’m concerned, just like what our plan has been for a long, long time, and that’s to give opportunities to young men who could be part of our future. Cesar Hernandez has been one of our best players on the field right now in a variety of ways – running the bases, playing defense, playing with energy,” Amaro said to the media prior to last night’s game. “He can switch-hit. He can run. He’s doing a lot of the things that we want to see out of our young players.

Hernandez has been one of the team’s best hitters since taking over for Utley full-time, and leads the team in batting average (.301), walks (24), and OBP (.386). Since June 10, Hernandez has an average of .385  with five doubles, 10 RBIs, nine walks, and an OBP of .446.

Utley has not been the player this season that fans have grown accustomed to seeing over the years. The 36-year-old was carrying a .179 average, with four home runs and 25 RBIs before landing on the DL with ankle inflammation.

It’s hard to picture a Phillies team with Utley playing a bench role, but judging by Amaro’s comments, it will become a reality. Pete Mackanin has final say, but the interim manager believes that the rest of the season should be dedicated to getting younger players at-bats and quality playing time. Hernandez is one of those players, and his play has earned himself the starting second baseman job.

Utley’s decline has been sharp and unexpected, especially coming off a spring training where he batted .412. Sadly, the end of the “Chase Utley Era” could be upon us.

Billingsley Earns First Win Since 2013:

The Phillies offense exploded for a second-straight night, scoring seven runs on 10 hits. Only this time, the starting pitcher was able to keep the opposing offense at bay.

That was thanks to Chad Billingsley, who earned his first win as a Phillie and his first win since April 10, 2013. Oh, and he did it against his former team.

“It’s been a long road,” Billingsley said in a post-game interview with Todd Zolecki. “I was pretty excited to be back out there today, being a familiar atmosphere. There were a lot of emotions.”

In eight seasons with the Dodgers, Billingsley was 82-63 with an ERA of 3.72. His best season with the club came in 2008, where he went 16-10 with a 3.14 ERA.

The 30-year-old pitched six innings of shutout ball to earn the win in last night’s contest. It was only the sixth time over the last 21 games that a Phillies starter pitched at least six innings.

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