Harper returns, Phillies lineup scrambled

The night Philadelphia Phillies superstar Bryce Harper returned to play after a 160-day Tommy John rehab, the team’s lineup was different than it has been. And that was not just because Harper was in it.

The consensus and anointed leadoff hitter, Bryson Stott, was suddenly hitting fifth on Tuesday. The evening’s leadoff man was hitting below .210, as he was with the ’22 squad far too often.

Reaction was fairly swift after NBC Sports Philly tweeted the starting lineup at 6:32 p.m. (EST):

“Schwarber should be 5 not Stott!! Nuff said,” declared John Davis at 6:42.

Phillies fan reaction to the team’s lineup change Tuesday wasn’t entirely positive.

“Switch jt [hitting sixth] and Stott,” ordered one reply to the lineup.

“.208 in 1 spot?! Vs LHP??? @rickybottalico @MBarkannNBCS @TMacPhils @RAJr_20 @bendavisnbcs @JohnKruk,” wrote Philly Sports Fan at 7:01, an aspiring influencer apparently, who made sure to tag the entire Phillies TV team.

“Why why why…Schwarber isn’t fast and doesn’t hit for average.” (7:05 p.m.)

“imagine hitting schwarber first with this team wow,” wrote Jim Schlegel. (7:41 p.m.)

I heard my barber talking. You see, my barber is a former college pitcher who is outraged by the Phillies use of the NL home run champion in the one-hole.

Phillies fans do not want for letting the team’s management know what they think.

Some of the Phils’ loyal following simply wondered about whether Harper’s right arm would fly apart chasing a tough slider. It didn’t, but no one doubted Harper would hit third. The repaired arm didn’t contribute any hits or RBI either. The former MVP was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, one on a caught foul tip.

For the second night in a row, the Phillies pitchers allowed 13 Dodgers to cross the plate. LA won, 13-1. The only real upside was that Harper had no complaints about how his repaired elbow felt.

So, what does the shift of Stott out of the leadoff slot mean? Not a whole lot yet, but it eventually could. This will be the case especially if Schwarber continues as leadoff and also goes 0-for-4 as he did in the Welcome Back Bryce game.

It’s more than likely that Phillies manager Rob Thomson is merely serving notice that, as well as Stott hit for the season’s first month largely batting first, it was time for a 15-15 team to switch it up. It is time to search for an optimal lineup.

In that spirit, it seems only appropriate to try another Phillie in the leadoff spot – Brandon Marsh at least. Marsh, in the early going, seems to bring both Schwarber’s power and Stott’s judgement to the plate.

After that, maybe a third should be auditioned. The Phillies fell to 15-16 on Tuesday night.

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