Jose Bautista made his Phillies debut Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park receiving a warm welcome from the crowd. Bautista pinch-hit for Aaron Nola in the seventh inning and struck out. The following night he was in the starting lineup, playing right field and he reached base three times, drawing two walks and delivering an RBI single in the Phillies 8-6 win.
The 1-for-2 start to his Phillies career has his season average at .199 after difficult stints with the Braves and Mets. Perhaps the biggest stat that the Phillies looked at among Bautista’s numbers was his .380 on-base percentage against left-handed pitchers this season. It was that number that put him in the lineup Wednesday against lefty Gio Gonzalez.
The Phillies claimed Bautista off waivers from the Mets and then worked out a trade that will send either a player to be named later or cash to New York for Bautista’s services for the rest of the season. The 37-year old is far from being the player he was just a couple of seasons ago but the Phillies are hoping there’s just enough power left in his bat to give them a late season offensive boost. He’s hit 11 home runs this season and now has 48 RBI.
Manager Gabe Kapler believes Bautista is a good fit for a team fighting for a playoff spot. “One of the things we knew about him is that he plays Philly style offense,” referring to Bautista’s ability to work deep into counts and grind out at-bats.
“I’m not scared. I played enough games and I’ll place a bet on myself if I have to. As a competitor, you have to have that mindset,” explained Bautista after Wednesday night’s game.
For the Phillies, Bautista is an older, more experienced, right-handed version of Justin Bour. When Bour returns from the DL, you can imagine a scenario where one or the other is the announced pinch-hitter and the opposing manager changes pitchers to get a better match-up and Kapler counters by sending the other guy out to give his team the better end of the match-up. You can also imagine more scenarios like Wednesday night when the Phillies are facing a difficult lefty and Williams – who is hitting .235/.311/.321 against left-handers – gets the night off in favor of Bautista.
When all is said and done, Bautista’s time in Philadelphia will probably be a little over a month in total. He’s a free agent at the end of the season and doesn’t fit the mold for what the Phillies will look for in a bat off the bench. Of course, if he fits perfectly and shows there’s more gas left in the tank than most believe, that theory could change and Bautista could be in camp next spring as a non-roster player looking for a spot.
For right now though, the Phillies will take whatever is left of Jose Bautista and hope that it adds just enough to their offense that they can climb back into a playoff spot and maybe work some magic in the postseason.