While Major League Baseball was busy making most of the baseball world give all its attention to Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen went down with a non-contact — read: Uh oh — knee injury. The team announced Tuesday , ending his first season in Philadelphia during the first week in June.on Monday night,
Here’s the awkward play that will change the 2019 outlook for the Phillies:
With McCutchen’s severe injury, the Phillies’ situation in center field has really gotten dire in the past week-plus.
On May 28, news broke that Odubel Herrera was . More recently, MLB extended Herrera’s administrative leave, which means he’ll likely be suspended and MLB is still working through an investigation. Once the Herrera news broke, it seemed obvious the Phillies were going to have to move McCutchen back to center. In fact, Herrera was playing so poorly that this might’ve been needed anyway. McCutchen has spent the overwhelming majority of his career in center and didn’t move off on a regular basis until last season.
The Phillies, after Herrera was placed on leave, traded for Jay Bruce, who is only a corner outfielder. It looked like they would be going with McCutchen flanked by Bruce and Bryce Harper, for the most part.
Then the McCutchen knee injury happened Monday night, putting the Phillies in quite the pickle when it comes to the premium defensive position of center field.
The current, healthy, in-house options:
- Scott Kingery. The 25-year-old sophomore is hitting .325/.364/.530 this season, but he’s only logged 62 innings in center in his big-league career and rates out as a negative on most defensive metrics. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since he didn’t even play center in the minors.
- Sean Rodriguez. The 34-year-old utility man has spent 119 2/3 innings in center field in his career. He’s mostly been a middle infielder. He also hasn’t been a good hitter since 2016.
- Harper. This shouldn’t be an option. Harper spent 477 1/3 innings in center last season for the Nationals and was good for negative-10 defensive runs saved.
- Bruce. Ha! Kidding.
- Adam Haseley. Haseley was called up to make his MLB debut once McCutchen was moved to the injured list. He’s played all three outfield positions in the minors and, good news, most of his time has been in center. Bad news, though, is that he’s spent more time in right than center this season. By no means has he been a primary center fielder. He’s hitting .268/.356/.471 in Triple-A this season.
The Phillies are 33-27 and have a half-game lead in the NL East. As planned before and during a big offseason, they are contending and will remain in contention throughout the season. Due to events transpiring the past 10 days, though, they definitely have a center field problem. The Phillies’ internal options will certainly be tested over the coming weeks, and the front office could be forced to go get another outfielder.