Sunday, February 7, 2016

Game 2: Ryan Howard is not hitting cleanup

For the first time since June 29, 2008, Ryan Howard is not the Phillies cleanup hitter.

Game 2: Ryan Howard is not hitting cleanup

Jimmy Rollins (left) and Marlon Byrd. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Jimmy Rollins (left) and Marlon Byrd. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Phillies scored 14 runs Monday, and Ryne Sandberg made radical changes to his Tuesday lineup. Ryan Howard is batting fifth for the first time since June 29, 2008. Domonic Brown and Cody Asche are on the bench as Texas starts lefthander Martin Perez.

1. Ben Revere 8
2. Jimmy Rollins 6
3. Chase Utley 0
4. Marlon Byrd 9
5. Ryan Howard 3
6. Carlos Ruiz 2
7. John Mayberry Jr. 7
8. Jayson Nix 5
9. Cesar Hernandez 4

Asche, who reached base four times on opening day and scored four runs, has a career OPS 133 points lower against lefties. Brown was better vs. lefthanders in 2013; his career OPS against them is 122 points lower than vs. righties.

Perez, 22, has made 26 career major-league starts. His splits are not pronounced; lefties have a .710 OPS and righties have a .765 OPS.

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Do you approve of Ryne Sandberg’s lineup changes?
Yes. He has every right to tinker.
  1724 (60.2%)
No. Cody Asche sits after scoring four runs in the opener?
  1140 (39.8%)
Total votes = 2864

Dropping Howard from fourth to fifth is not a huge surprise. Sandberg did it during spring training. It is just jarring to see Howard somewhere else in the lineup because he batted cleanup in each of his last 665 regular-season starts.

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