As a counter piece to my NLCS preview of the Dodgers offense, I want to mention the struggles of the Phillies most important hitter, Chase Utley.
During the playoffs, Utley has slumped mightily:
.133 AVG / 0 HR / 2 RBI / 1 R / .235 OBP / .200 SLG
That’s poor. Factor in that his two-RBI double could’ve been a catch, and you’re looking at a horrendous four-game split. Of course, it is four games, and Utley has time to make up the poor play, but I’m not expecting a big turnaround.
In the postseason for his career, Utley is just a .154 hitter, slugging .192. While a small sample size still, it tells me he might shrink in the spotlight. Then again, it’s not as if he has bad numbers in big situations for his career:
Late and close: .277 AVG / .392 OBP / .481 SLG
Two outs, RISP: .289 AVG / .396 OBP / .505 SLG
Innings 7-9: .310 AVG / .400 OBP / .531 SLG
So overall, Utley has proven clutch enough, yet in the postseason, he shrinks. We can always turn back to the injury possibility, which is one we love turning to, but a .133 average?
To be honest, I’m stumped. When I watch Utley out there, I see a guy who’s pulling off on the ball, getting out in front, losing a little balance. It’s possible he is pressing, and it’s also possible he’s overcompensating for his hip.
What Utley needs to do is get on base any way he can. He tried it in game four, acting as if he got hit by a pitch (and he may have, replays showed). If he’s not completely confident in his swing, he needs to get on base. And maybe he needs to move up to the two-hole, sliding Shane Victorino to the three-hole. That way Utley can just get on base and advance innings, not try and win games. Because right now, he’s not even close.