There’s no getting around it: This is a catastrophic injury for the Phillies. Andrew McCutchen has a torn left ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2019 season.
McCutchen suffered the injury on a rundown in the first inning of Monday’s loss in San Diego. He led the game off with a walk (shocker), then was caught in a rundown when slumping Jean Segura popped a ball up to the right side of the infield. Segura went down to one knee on the swing — he’s done a lot of that lately — and was slow getting out of the box because of it. The Padres quickly noticed and let the ball drop to record the out at first base before getting McCutchen in a rundown. It was a heads-up play by Padres veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler.
A heads-up play that may have changed the fortunes of the 2019 Phillies.
McCutchen has been so good this season. He has exceeded expectations. He leads all major-league leadoff men in runs and walks and ranks fifth in OBP and extra-base hits. He’s been strong defensively in left field, solid in center field and valuable on the basepaths. And now he’s done for the year.
One of the primary reasons the Phillies signed McCutchen for $50 million over three years was his durability. Over the last nine seasons, he averaged 155 games played. He has been on the injured list (formerly the disabled list) just once, for 15 days in August 2014.
The Phillies were banking on the continued durability of both McCutchen and David Robertson, who was signed to a two-year, $23 million deal. Robertson, like McCutchen, had been a workhorse, making just two trips to the IL in 11 years before spending most of this season on the shelf with a forearm/elbow strain.
What happens now in the Phillies’ outfield? Well, Adam Haseley is in San Diego and should see some time in center field. This was quicker than many believed Haseley would debut but he wasn’t too far from the majors as it was.
When it’s not Haseley in center, it will be Scott Kingery flanked by Bryce Harper and Jay Bruce. The issue there is you lose your super-utilityman and you’re forced to start Maikel Franco, who has been an automatic out for a month, rather than playing Kingery at third base.
The McCutchen injury highlights the imbalance of the Phillies’ roster. They have suitable replacements for only a few starters. They did not spend the offseason building depth, they spent it building a core. They also did not know until late in the offseason that they’d land J.T. Realmuto or Harper so they couldn’t fill out the back of their roster with the knowledge that they’d be a true World Series contender in 2019.
This upcoming offseason will be about building that necessary depth and protecting the other investments. But that doesn’t help the Phillies today or tomorrow.
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