8:04 p.m.: “I will play [Moniak] a lotin center field, Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki and other reporters, adding that Herrera could get outside corner duty.
1:28 p.m.: The Phillies activated the outfielder Mickey Moniac 10-day IL, the team announced today. The move follows an announcement that the southpaw Bailey Falter was picked for Triple-A Lehigh Valley after last night’s game against the Mets.
Moniak is yet to make his season debut after suffering a broken right hand in the Phillies’ final game this spring. The No. 1 pick in the 2016 Entry Draft struggled to live up to expectations placed on a 1-1, recording a relatively pedestrian triple slash of .255 / .303 / .406 in parts of six minor league seasons and a meager .128 / .241/.192 in 55 plate appearances in the big leagues, but he was the favorite to return to daily work on the field before the injury.
This work, covered so far by a rotating cast that includes Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn, Matt Vierlingand Simon Muzziotti, could still be his, though a recent hot streak from Herrera pushed his season line (.270/.298/.494) much further into playable territory. Yet even with that recent boost, Phillies center backs post a combined wRC+ of just 73 — sixth-worst in the majors — and a combined batting line of just 0.218/0.272/0.346.
Even with Herrera proving capable coverage at center lately, the right fielder-turned-DH injuries Bryce Harper put manager Joe Girardi in a bind. Due to a tear in his UCL that prevents him from pitching but not swinging a bat, the 2015 and 2021 NL MVP was relegated to DH duties, forcing the Phillies’ two defensively limited offseason acquisitions – Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber – for playing the field, a major contributing factor to the Phils ranking among the worst majors in both above-average (-20) and above-average (-16) outings.
Castellanos and Schwarber both contributed at bat in Philadelphia, though neither set the world on fire. Schwarber, whose .181/.301/.398 batting line features an abysmal batting average offset by strong power and basic skill, could be a candidate to take an occasional seat if Moniak proves capable at home plate. Moniak could also be used as a defensive backup in late-inning situations. Whether he’s deployed that way or has a real chance of unseating Herrera will likely go a long way to show how Phillies chiefs still view him as a serious prospect.
Falter, who posted a 4.20 ERA in 15 innings in six games (two starts), will likely get a chance to stretch as a starter in the minors. Although he had mixed results at the bigs, the 25-year-old was off for two seasons in Triple-A, recording a 1.32 ERA while striking out 39.6% of the batters he faced. in 41 innings.