Outside the box: Marlins bat pitcher eighth
NEW YORK — Some “outside the box” thinking led to the Marlins moving Dan Jennings from general manager to manager two weeks ago.
Jennings, who never had any prior coaching or managing experience at the professional level, has not been shy about trying new things with his roster. In Saturday’s 9-5 win over the Mets at Citi Field, he called upon closer A.J. Ramos to pick up a four-out save. The strategy worked as Ramos gave Miami its first four-out save since Steve Cishek did it last May.
In the series finale against the Mets on Sunday, Jennings didn’t hesitate to trying something different again. He batted starting pitcher David Phelps eighth and light-hitting catcher Jhonatan Solano ninth.
It’s the first time a Marlins starter has batted higher than ninth since Dontrelle Willis did it four times in 2005. Then manager Jack McKeon twice batted D-Train seventh and two times more had him hit eighth.
Willis, and now Phelps, are the only two starters in franchise history ever to bat other than ninth.
“Trying to be a little creative with the personnel that was playing today,” Jennings said. “We knew these guys were going to play today.”
Ichiro Suzuki started in center in place of Marcell Ozuna, and batted fifth. Ichiro has a .317 batting average in 102 plate appearances against Bartolo Colon.
Adeiny Hechavarria is still out with a bruised left shoulder, so Donovan Solano started at shortstop.
Catcher J.T. Realmuto was given the day off, common for a regular catcher to sit the day after a night game, especially after playing all week.
Jhonatan Solano entered the game hitting .059 (1-for-17) and Phelps .071 (1-for-14). But that had little to do with the decision to hit a position player ninth.
“We’re essentially trying to get a little more meat on the bone for the top of the order when it rolls around,” Jennings said. “Bunt situation thing, as well as some double-switch thoughts. We’ll see how it unfolds.”
Jennings doesn’t anticipate batting the pitcher eighth when Realmuto and Hechavarria are in the lineup.
There is no definitive statistic that suggests more runners will be on base for the top of the order if a pitcher bats eight. But the general idea is the number of guys on base for the two, three, four hitters goes up slightly as the game progresses.
— Joe Frisaro