The Philadelphia Phillies‘ lineup is unbalanced in 2014, with a bevy of left-handed hitters scattered throughout the order. With very few options as the team’s go-to right-handed bat, the Phillies need catcher Carlos Ruiz to assume that role in order to provide some relief to Philadelphia’s lefty-heavy approach.
Ruiz got the ball rolling for the Phillies on Monday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. His two-run double in the first inning gave starting pitcher Cliff Lee an early cushion. The Phillies wouldn’t surrender the lead, winning 7-0 and moving to 2-2 on their current 10-game west coast road trip. Ruiz went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and four RBIs.
Entering Monday, Ruiz was batting only .204 and had yet to record an RBI on the young season. Hopefully his monster game on Monday will give him the jolt he needs to start producing more consistently.
Unlike years past, the Phillies don’t have the luxury of a power-hitting right-handed bat in their everyday lineup. Gone are the days of Pat Burrell, Jayson Werth or even Hunter Pence. In a lineup that’s littered with lefties, Ruiz is the team’s best option at the other side of the plate.
Manager Ryne Sandberg has been batting Ruiz in a variety of places so far this year. He’s batted his catcher second, third, fourth, six and seventh over the course of 16 games this year, showing how he values his offensive versatility. However, Ruiz has yet to start hitting like a middle of the lineup player.
If he’s able to do this, Sandberg can insert Ruiz between guys like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown. Doing so would not only split the lefties up during the majority of the game, but it would provide some matchup problems with the opposition’s bullpen in the later innings.
For a player who plays a position that much isn’t expected from offensively, Ruiz needs to become a catalyst for getting the Phillies’ offense back on track.