Creator: Yong Kim | Credit: Yong Kim / Staff Photographer
Castellanos and Turner talk about what went wrong at the plate. This article was first published on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
PITTSBURGH, PA — The Phillies lost to the Pirates on Saturday for several reasons: Aaron Nola didn’t have it, the defense was bad in three places, and too many runners were left on base. However, two of their struggling hitters were at the center of a frustrating night.
Trea Turner was moved from second to seventh in the lineup because he hadn’t had a hit in three straight games and had his lowest batting average (.242) in almost two months. Manager Rob Thomson said earlier in the day that he won’t be back at the top of the lineup until he improves at the plate.
Nick Castellanos had another bad night. On Saturday, Nick Castellanos took Turner’s spot in the second spot on Saturday when Thomson tried to get him more pitches to hit in front of Bryce Harper. He didn’t get a hit in five at-bats, struck out three times, and left the bases full in the sixth inning and the tying and winning runs in the eighth. He also messed up in right field and let a ball go over his head.
In his last 21 games, Castellanos has gone 10-for-85 (.118) with two extra-base hits, two walks, and 33 strikeouts.
“I’ve just been bad, man,” he said after the game. “It’s hard just to find that steady rhythm. It’s been not good since the second half. Sometimes I find myself in a hole and want to get out, but the harder I try, the deeper I get. Just have to keep going and work hard.”
Castellanos’s strikeout in the sixth inning, when the bases were full, was especially bad. He was down 0-2 in the count and hit a slider far from home plate. Teams hit him with low-and-away breaking balls all year in 2022 because he couldn’t consistently lay off them. He would always find a way out.
He said, “I think teams don’t want to throw me strikes because I’m nervous and want to hit so badly that I don’t let myself get anything to hit.”
Turner’s night was better. He went 1-for-3, stole a base, scored a run, and walked. He didn’t act surprised when Thomson told him he was moving down. Turner has never tried to fool himself about how poorly he has played this season. He has been honest about changes and problems in his swing or approach. He hasn’t been able to do anything to change things.
When asked if he thought the change in the lineup would help him, Turner said, “Maybe it will help the team.”
“We wouldn’t have had that talk if I had done my job better. I just have to put together good at-bats, swing at good pitches, find my swing, and build up some momentum.
“For me, it’s a matter of piling up good days. This year, I haven’t been able to do that. “A good game, a bad game, a good game, a bad game, a good stretch, a bad stretch, but not long enough.”
Turner has never been through a lot of these things. Before the season, he had hit.300 for his whole career. From 2019 to 2020, he hit.311. In 2023, he is about 70 points below that.
Did he even think Trea Turner could hit between?240 and.250 this summer, which is what he’s done?
“The last thing on my mind,” he said, “given how the last four or five seasons have gone.” “2018 was probably my worst season, and I would take that year over this one any day. I didn’t think we’d be here, but here we are. You have to keep at it. It’s too much for me to get back in one day. You have to work on the little things and try to win some games.”
It will be interesting to see what the second spot in the Phillies’ batting order brings. Thomson still thinks that Turner should hit second in their best lineup, but not right now. Based on his July, Castellanos doesn’t seem like the right choice. J.T. Realmuto doesn’t get to first base often enough. You can’t move Bryson Stott to the leadoff spot without also moving Kyle Schwarber because then you’d have three left-handed hitters in a row with Stott, Schwarber, and Harper.
Thomson said, “I think I’ll just leave Casty there.” “I like where Alec Bohm and Stott are because they put the ball in play when runners are in scoring position. All we have to do is get Casty going.”