Phillies move struggling Revere out of leadoff spot

slideshow-041813-phillies-revere-uspresswire.jpg

Phillies move struggling Revere out of leadoff spot

Charlie Manuel had been thinking about it for a few days. After Ben Revere went 0 for 12 in the Reds series, he didn’t have to think about it any longer.

Revere is out of the leadoff spot for the Phillies, and Jimmy Rollins is back at the top of the order.

For now. Maybe for much longer.

Revere, who has hit leadoff in all 15 of the Phillies’ games so far, is hitting seventh in Manuel’s lineup against the Cards Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park, the first game of an eight-game homestand.

After hitting .259 in the Phils’ first six games, Revere is hitting just .143 (5 for 35) over the last nine games.

“I talked to Charlie when I came to the field, and he’s like it’s something that we’re going to try a little switch-up and we’ll see how it works,” Revere said at his locker before the game.

“He told me, ‘I’m not giving up on you. I know you’re a good hitter and everything.’ I hit down there before, it’s no biggie. I’m struggling a little bit but trying to figure out that swing and figure out these pitchers and I’ll be rolling real soon.”

The Phillies scored just 10 runs in their six-game road trip, going 2-4 to fall to 6-9 this year.

It’s not like Rollins is tearing the cover off the ball himself. He was 1 for 18 on the road trip, his averaging dropping from .316 to .232.

But Manuel felt like he had to do something, and he doesn’t have that many options.

“How can you score runs if you don’t put yourself in position to score runs?” he said. “You are going to go through periods when you aren’t scoring runs. When you are putting yourself in position not to score runs, you don’t want that to go on for a long time.”

Revere, 24, hit .294 last year with the Twins and then hit .326 with five doubles in spring training. But since a three-hit game against the Royals on April 7, he has just five hits.

“He’s hitting most of his balls on the infield,” Manuel said. “If you remember, he stung some balls in spring training. At the same time, too, spring training is different. When the bell rings, big-league pitchers, he’s getting to see some No. 1s and 2s and 3s and 4s and 5s, stuff like that.

“He’s not getting to see any guys who are trying to make the team and are Double A or Triple A pitchers and things like that. That’s a whole new ball of wax when the bell rings.”

Revere, who spent his first three seasons with the Twins, said he didn’t want to make any excuses for his slump but said it’s been difficult getting adjusted to National League pitchers.

“One of the best hitters, [Albert] Pujols, kind of struggled last year in the AL with the Angels. It’s just learning new pitchers [who] pitch you differently. You’ve got to switch up to a new game plan.

“I’ve been watching film with [hitting coach] Steve Henderson, and I kind of found out what I’ve been doing wrong since spring training.

“I haven’t been swinging the way I had been swinging in spring training, just kind of been going back to the film and seeing what I’m doing and kind of been working some drills today, and I feel a lot better right now swinging in the cage.”

With Domonic Brown out with back soreness, Manuel’s lineup Thursday night has Freddy Galvis playing left and batting second, followed by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Michael Young, John Mayberry, Revere, Erik Kratz and Cole Hamels.

“I talked to [Revere] and told him I wanted to drop him down in the order, relax him and get him going,” Manuel said. “I told him our lineup is never set. It’s not like he won’t be back in the leadoff hole at some time or hitting second at some time. That’s definitely. I want to put him down there, give him some time and relax.”

Revere started out strong last year -- he was hitting .331 as late as Aug. 6 -- but hit .236 the rest of the way.

“I think Ben's going to be fine,” general manager Ruben Amaro said. “I think Charlie's just trying to shake things up, get things going. I don't blame Charlie for making these kind of changes.

“Ben's been struggling, Jimmy's been struggling but he's had success in the one-hole. I think Ben's going to be fine. I think he just needs to start swinging it. Just like a lot of other guys, he's been struggling.”

Tonight's lineup: Howard batting 5th with Herrera batting 3rd

Tonight's lineup: Howard batting 5th with Herrera batting 3rd

Ryan Howard is batting fifth to begin his final series with the Phillies.

The 36-year-old first baseman, who has donned red pinstripes for 13 seasons, did not play in Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Braves, but he is expected to start all three games against the Mets this weekend.

The Phillies have a lot of speed at the top of the lineup, even with Roman Quinn likely done for the season. Cesar Hernandez leads off with Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera right behind him. The trio lead the Phillies in steals with a total of 59 this year. Herrera has 25 while Hernandez and Galvis each have 17.

If you're wondering, Howard has not stolen a base this season, but he was caught stealing once. He hasn't stolen a base since June 26, 2011, before his Achilles injury. He only stole more than one base in a season in 2008, when he swiped eight bases.

Cameron Rupp returns to the lineup at catcher. He'll bat right behind Howard, followed by Jimmy Paredes and Aaron Altherr in the corner outfield.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Alec Asher, P

And the Mets lineup:
1. Jose Reyes, 3B
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
4. Curtis Granderson, CF
5. Jay Bruce, RF
6. T.J. Rivera, 2B
7. Lucas Duda, 1B
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Robert Gsellman, RHP

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Howard, Phils can spoil Mets' season

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Howard, Phils can spoil Mets' season

Phillies (70-89) vs. Mets (85-74)
7:05 p.m. on CSN

Just three games remain in the Phillies' season. After a 24-17 start, the season went predictably downhill. However, the Phils have a chance to play spoiler to a big-time rival with the New York Mets in town. Alec Asher is on the hill for the Phillies while Robert Gsellman faces the Phillies for a third times this year.

Here are five things to watch on Friday night.

1. End of the road for the Big Ticket
There are just three games left in Ryan Howard's tenure with the Phillies.

It's been a long ride for Howard. There'll be plenty on Howard this weekend (and there's a pregame ceremony for him on Sunday), but here are some of his stats from his 13 years in Philadelphia.

Howard has hit 381 home runs and has 1,192 RBI with the Phils. He has 10 seasons of at least 20 home runs and has a run of six straight seasons from 2006 to 2011, his first six full seasons, with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI. He twice walked more than 100 times in a season and he racked up 276 doubles.

The long-time first baseman has hit 47 home runs against the Mets, his second highest total against any team (52 vs. Atlanta). In 174 games, Howard has 157 hits and 73 walks against the Mets.

Howard goes into the weekend with 197 home runs at Citizens Bank Park. Overall, he's racked up 1,465 total bases at CBP. He has, however, struck out 880 times in 769 games there as well.

2. Playing spoilers
While the Phillies are firmly outside of the playoff race, the New York Mets are in the driver's seat for a wild card spot. The Phillies could have something to say about that.

The San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals both won on Thursday while the Mets were off. That leaves the Mets one game ahead of the Giants for the first wild card spot and two games up on the Cardinals for a playoff spot. 

If the Mets win two of three this weekend, they clinch homefield advantage in the Wild Card game on Wednesday. With one win, they guarantee that they cannot be eliminated this weekend. Their magic number is two to clinch a playoff berth, so a combination of wins and Cardinals' losses can get them into the postseason. 

The Phillies can throw a wrench into the Mets' gameplan with a strong showing this weekend. While they've lost six of seven, the Phillies will likely get up for games with playoff implications. Furthermore, the Mets have the incentive to clinch as soon as possible as to avoid needing Noah Syndergaard to pitch on Sunday, so they can hold him for the National League wild card game on Wednesday.

3. Asher closes out impressive month 
Asher has made four starts since coming up earlier this month and has been much more impressive than his late season stint in 2015. 

After going 0-6 with a 9.31 ERA last year, he's 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA. However, despite picking up a win last weekend against the Mets, he struggled late and left room for improvement. 

Asher began his start Saturday vs. the Mets with a perfect game through three innings. He worked around three baserunners in the fourth inning, but came unglued after a couple errors in the fifth inning. While poor defense is not his fault, it would have been a good sign if he could have picked up his defense. Instead, he barely made it through the inning after four unearned runs.

Normally, a team would look for length out of their starter when handed such a large lead, so Asher only making it through five is disappointing. He still hasn't allowed more than two earned runs and has induced plenty of weak contact with his two-seam fastball.

The Mets will be the first (and only) team he faces twice this season.

4. Third time the charm vs. Gsellman?
Gsellman will be making his seventh career MLB start on Friday and it will be his third against the Phillies.

In two starts against the Phils, Gsellman is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA over 13 innings. He has 13 strikeouts against them while allowing 10 hits and three walks. 

All four runs he allowed to the Phillies came in his first start. He had held the Phils to one run over six innings but departed after loading the bases with none out. The Mets' bullpen promptly allowed all three inherited runners to score.

On Sunday, Gsellman dominated, shutting out the Phils for seven innings. He allowed just five baserunners and struck out eight in the 17-0 win. 

The 23-year-old rookie has a 2.56 ERA through seven appearances in the majors. He started the season in Double A, but he will likely get a playoff start if the Mets gets to the Division Series.

5. This and that
• The Phillies have just two extra base hits in 50 plate appearances against Gsellman. They are hitting .222/.271/.267 against him. 

• Eight Phils have hits off Gsellman. Freddy Galvis is 2 for 5 with a double and Jimmy Paredes is 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI. 

• Michael Conforto hit a home run off Asher last season. No Mets hitter has more than one hit against him, in part because none of them have faced him more than three times.

• The Phillies have 601 runs on the season, the fewest in baseball by 39 runs. The Mets have the fifth worst total with 659 runs.

• Jeanmar Gomez is 0-3 with a 19.13 ERA in September. He's allowed 18 runs (17 earned) in eight innings.