Gabe Kapler revealed his likely Opening Day lineup that will face Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday afternoon. Here it is, per Todd Zolecki:
Gabe Kapler said his #Phillies lineup for Opening Day is subject to change, but right now it’s looking like this:
1. McCutchen, LF
2. Segura, SS
3. Harper, RF
4. Hoskins, 1B
5. Realmuto, C
6. Herrera, CF
7. Hernandez, 2B
8. Franco, 3B
9. Nola, P
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 26, 2019
That order is also the same one he trotted out during his team’s final Grapefruit League game on Monday afternoon.
I like it.
Last week, I wrote about why Andrew McCutchen should thrive in the leadoff spot. The gist:
- McCutchen still has quality on-base skills. His .368 OBP a season ago serves as proof.
- He still possesses the requisite pitch selection quality needed at the top. His 19.4% O-Swing% (the percentage of pitches offered at outside of the strike zone) was second-best in all of baseball and trailed only Joey Votto’s 16.4% last season. That discipline yielded 95 walks and a 13.9% walk-rate, the second-best of his career.
- It’s not just about OBP. Hitting McCutchen ahead of offensive threats such as Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins will force pitchers to attack him. It would be very surprising if he didn’t see a lot of fastballs for this reason, and if he does, he should be extremely dangerous. McCutchen struggled with sliders (.453 OPS) and changeups (.649 OPS) last season, but mashed against four-seam fastballs (.946 OPS) and sinkers (.997 OPS). If he replicates his plate discipline and pitch production splits against hard stuff, he’s going to thrive at the top.
Also of interest is that Bryce Harper absolutely destroys Teheran. He’s 18 for 40 (.450 BA) against him with eight homers and a 1.702 OPS. That could make for very good times down at the yard on Thursday.