Losing Realmuto To Injury Will Test The Phillies Depth

by Marc Narducci | Jun 19, 2024
Losing Realmuto To Injury Will Test The Phillies Depth
The Phillies have proven that they can withstand injuries. Shortstop Trea Turner got off to a great start this season and even in his absence, the Phillies have continued to excel.

For instance, Turner was batting .343 with a 144 OPS+ when he suffered his hamstring injury. The Phillies were 22-11 in the 33 games Turner played and began the week 25-12 without Turner in the lineup. 

The Phillies have a deep team that is able to withstand a key injury like that to Turner, but that depth will be tested greatly with catcher J.T. Realmuto on the sidelines. 

Realmuto last played June 9, in the Phillies’ 6-5 loss to the New York Mets in London. During that game, Realmuto was hit by a pitch in the ninth inning. After advancing to second on a Bryce Harper single, he was replaced by a pinch runner, fellow catcher Garrett Stubbs.

That was the first indication that not all was well physically with Realmuto, who is an excellent baserunner.

Later, it was announced that Realmuto had to undergo meniscus surgery. 

It’s been estimated that he will be out at least a month. 

Again, the Phillies aren’t going to crumble with him out, but he is among the most indispensable players on the team.

Stubbs is a below average hitter. Rafael Marchan, 25, who replaced Realmuto, is still relatively untested, although he hit a key home run in last week’s 5-3 win over 11 innings over the Baltimore Orioles (among the most exciting games of the season, with a real playoff atmosphere.). 

Realmuto’s slash line of .261/.309/.411 stat line and 105 OPS+ are above average, especially for a catcher, but it appears that he was bothered by the knee injury for some time, and that slowed his production. For instance, in the nine games he played before being placed on the Injured List, Realmuto hit just .135 (5-for-37) with a .200 on base percentage and 0 RBI. The Phillies were 5-4 in those games.

For the season, the Phillies are 35-16 in games Realmuto has played and began the week 12-7 in games he didn’t appear in.

Another statistic that points to the fact that Realmuto hasn’t been 100 percent is that he has stolen only one base this season after combining for 37 the previous two years. 

The 33-year-old Realmuto is a three-time All-Star, twice with the Phillies and once with the Miami Marlins. He was certainly in line to be an All-Star before the injury. Only two National League catchers – Will Smith of the Los Angeles Dodgers and William Contreras of the Milwaukee Brewers - have a higher OPS than Realmuto’s 720.

He also does a great job handling the pitching staff and has won two Gold Gloves, both with the Phillies in 2019 and 2022.

Realmuto is a true leader, one who is respected by his teammates for his toughness. In each of the previous two seasons, he has started 130 games at catcher, an unbelievable workload for the game’s toughest position. 

So it will be interesting to see if the Phillies can more than tread water in his absence. 

The only silver lining is that he may be fresher for the playoffs. How Realmuto bounces back from this injury will go a long way to determine the Phillies’ postseason fate.

Photo: J.T. Realmuto / Marc Narducci

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Author: Marc Narducci

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