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The Phillies need a kick in the pants. Changing the lineup might be it

Rob Thomson has pressed some good buttons this year. It might be time to press this one

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Larry Robinson-USA TODAY Sports

The atmosphere in the Phillies’ locker room has been documented as one with open communication and one where players can relax. Roles are well communicated within the team so that each player is comfortable with how he is going to be used. Matt Gelb wrote about this last week and spoke with several of the players about much Thomson has changed.

They usually know where they stand with Thomson. That might not have been the case before...“He’s a good communicator,” Maton said. “He’ll let you know whatever is on his mind and what he wants you to do. That’s big, I think. Especially for young guys.”

Anyone who has watched the Phillies this season for any length of time can tell the difference in teams from when Joe Girardi was at the helm and from when Thomson has taken over. As Gelb points out, it’s been his influence on the team that has helped propel them into a playoff spot with two weeks left in the season.

However, the past few weeks have seen the team go through a bit of a dry spell at the plate. They still rank quite well as far as season totals go with regards to their offensive output, but over the past few weeks, they’ve slipped a bit. They’ve scored only 58 runs in September, ranking 23rd among all teams in the game. They’ve still got a 110 wRC+ as a team during the month, eighth in the game, but it hasn’t felt like they have performed as well as they could have.

Maybe it’s time for something different.

We all know that Kyle Schwarber prefers to be in the leadoff spot since he’s arrived in Philadelphia and for the most part, he has been a success. Old school fans point to a batting average near the Mendoza line, but if a player is hitting near forty home runs from the leadoff position, maybe it’s time to just think of the leadoff spot in a different light. However, in September, Schwarber has been just ok up front. He, like the other players on the team, have just been middling offensively in the month.

Hitters in September, by OPS:

  • Schwarber: .746
  • Hoskins: .665
  • Harper: .605
  • Bohm: .738
  • Realmuto: .905
  • Stott: .798
  • Segura: .766
  • Marsh: .762
  • Vierling: .533

Just by OPS in the month, you can see that they have really been led by the hot bat of J.T. Realmuto and not a whole lot else. Zoom out a bit more and you could see that only two of those players have an OBP over .315 for the month of September (Realmuto and Stott). It’s been just an average group as a unit, yet for the most part it has remained stagnant. The only real changes we’ve seen is Harper moving up and down out of the fourth spot. Something has to give a bit, to see if a spark can be lit to help get this offense humming again.

The things is, is there a really a better way to set the lineup up for success?

The obvious answer is moving Stott up to the leadoff spot and Schwarber down to a more traditional power hitting slot. Stott has shown himself to be a capable hitter in the leadoff position, so that could be one way for things to work. Moving Schwarber down a bit could help him use his home run hitting ability to produce a little more in run scoring chances. If the team were interested in continuing in the more “traditional” roles in the lineup, maybe Jean Segura into the second slot with his ability to hit for contact.

Then again, maybe it’s just a dry spell.

Maybe the lineup is just fine the way it is. After all, the way it’s currently constructed has put a lot of runs on the board as the season has gone on and to turn away from it now might be perceived as a bit of a smash of the panic button.

However, these games this week are extremely important for the Phillies. Nothing should be thrown out of the window as they discuss ideas to help them establish a little more consistency at home. The chances they snap out of their mini funk as a group are reasonable. But if they cannot, if they continue to not hit with any kind of consistency, a change should be in the cards.