McCutchen suffered the injury while caught in a rundown on Monday night against the Padres. He hopes to be ready for the start of the 2020 season, per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb.
Now here’s what you need to know about McCutchen’s injury and the fallout from it.
McCutchen hurt on an odd play
McCutchen suffered the non-contact injury in the first inning of Monday’s eventual loss to San Diego. With McCutchen on first, Jean Segura hit a pop-up to second baseman Ian Kinsler. Since Segura had fallen on the swing, Kinsler let the ball drop in an effort to turn a double play (the infield fly rule is in effect only when there’s a force at third with fewer than two outs) but threw to first base upon fielding the ball. That led to McCutchen’s being caught in a rundown, which eventually led to the injury. Here’s a look:
Injury ends a strong season
McCutchen’s 2019 campaign with a slash line of .256/.378/.457 (117) with 10 home runs and an NL-leading 43 walks (all unintentional) in 59 games. He’d also hit into only one double play this season and looked good in the field. In all, his 2019 WAR of 1.7 ranked second to J.T. Realmuto among Phillies position players.
Also, up until now he’s been uncommonly durable:
Add it all up, and the SportsLine Projection Model (@SportsLine on Twitter) projects that McCutchen’s injury costs them a hefty 27 percent reduction in their World Series odds, from 3.3 percent to 2.4 percent. The injury also drops the Phillies’ projected odds to make the playoffs from 50.1 percent to 43.1 percent.
Throw in McCutchen’s reputation as a tremendous teammate and clubhouse influence, and he’ll be greatly missed.
The Phillies’ outfield looks quite different now
Odubel Herrera is presently on administrative following. Both when and whether he’ll return to the Phillies lineup is unknown at this point. Throw in McCutchen’s injury, and now you’ve got a very different alignment in the outfield. This sums it up:
Bryce Harper continues to man right, and the newly acquired Jay Bruce becomes the every-day left fielder. Adam Haseley, age 23 and the No. 8 overall pick out of the University of Virginia in 2017, will take McCutchen’s spot on the active roster and likely become the primary center fielder. Haseley has been considered a fringe top-100 prospect at times since being drafted, and in 2019 he’s batted .275/.358/.466 with seven home runs and five stolen bases in 47 games at the Double- and Triple-A levels. He also projects as a true big-league center fielder, at least for the near- to mid-term. How quickly he adapts at the plate upon reaching the highest level will not only affect Philly’s season but also inform their trade deadline plans.
What if Haseley doesn’t produce?
The Phillies are heavily committed to winning in 2019, and if Haseley doesn’t seize the job in center in fairly short order and Herrera’s situation remains muddled then GM Matt Klentak may see what’s available leading up to the July 31 trade deadline (recall that there’s only trade deadline starting this year). It’s not certain who which center fielders or center-capable corner outfielders will be available, but Kevin Pillar, Adam Jones, Tyler O’Neill, and Randal Grichuk seem like possibilities.
McCutchen will almost certainly suit up for the Phillies again
You don’t want to make assumptions about such major injuries that happen to 32-year-olds, but McCutchen’s work ethic, athleticism, and past durability surely work in his favor. As well, he’s under contract with Philly through the 2021 season with a team option for 2022. This is bad news that hurts the 2019 Phillies, but McCutchen will very likely do his thing in Phillies red once again.