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Phillies use Aaron Altherr’s final option, send struggling OF to Triple-A

Aaron Altherr is in the midst of a disappointing 2018 campaign. (Ian D’Andrea)

The Philadelphia Phillies split a two-game double-header with the San Diego Padres Sunday. Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro both got starts at catcher. In the second game of the day-night double-header, Mitch Walding and Jesmuel Valentin both started. But Aaron Altherr didn’t start in either game, perhaps a sign that manager Gabe Kapler wasn’t confident in the 27-year-old’s ability to put together meaningful at-bats.

Altherr did pinch-hit in the first game, but struck out with the bases loaded, despite being thrown two very hittable pitches by Padres reliever Matt Strahm. So after putting together one deflating at-bat in the team’s double-header, the Phillies elected to option Altherr to Triple-A Lehigh Valley Sunday night, burning his final option:

After slashing .272/.340/.516 with 19 home runs, 65 RBIs and an 8.8 offensive WAR in 2017, Altherr was given the right-of-first-refusal in right field. After starting Opening Day in center field over Odubel Herrera, Altherr got the bulk of the starts in right field through the first month-and-a-half of the season. Throughout the course of his young career, Altherr has struggled to stay healthy. He’s stayed healthy in 2018 and been given every chance to be a regular for the Phillies, but has turned in a .172/.291/.306 slash line with a -11.4 offensive WAR. Something had to give.

For the time being, it appears Nick Williams will be the team’s everyday right fielder. Dylan Cozens will presumably take Altherr’s spot on the 25-man roster, as Roman Quinn is too early in a rehab stint to join the major league team yet.

Barring his bat staying ice-cold at Triple-A, the guess here is that Altherr will be back with the Phillies for the stretch run of the 2018 season. For him to be eligible for the postseason, he would have to be back on the major league roster before Sept. 1.

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