The Phillies will lose another player to a lengthy DL stay, as catcher Erik Kratz is expected to miss 6-8 weeks following knee surgery, according to the Inquirer's Matt Gelb. Kratz, who injured his knee over the weekend, was getting a bulk of the starts behind the dish in Carlos Ruiz's absence.
It's another bad blow in what has been a season of bad blows, as Kratz has been a bit of a bright spot for the Phillies as of late. Despite a .726 OPS on the season, he's got eight home runs (4th among National League catchers), and has come on strong recently, with a .905 OPS (.264/.349/.556) since May. His offense at the end of the lineup has been a welcome presence, as the Phillies have been scrambling to put together something with the bats.
With Kratz down, and Carlos Ruiz still working his way back from the DL, the Phillies will look to Humberto Quintero, who owns a .690 OPS in 13 games this season to go along with one homer, and Steven Lerud, who has yet to swing a bat in the big leagues this season. The 28-year-old Lerud saw limited playing time last season, but owns a .221/.383/.316 line (with no homers) at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
It's a pretty bad situation for the Phillies, who not only have to deal with offensive black holes in other parts of the lineup, but are now without a power threat behind the dish. While Carlos Ruiz is close to returning – he could be back within two weeks – the Phillies are going to have to make due with a catching duo that is light on hitting.
In other injury news, Chase Utley might be back on the field by the middle of the month. The second baseman was one of the few hitters who was providing some consistent offense – he had an .814 OPS and seven homers – when he hit the DL late last month.
While Utley's return will spell the end of the platoon of Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez, you have to wonder if that is a countdown to the end of his time with the Phillies. With the trade deadline approaching, Chase Utley is one of the few players on this team who has some value on the trade market. While his oblique injury certainly caused that value to dip a bit, teams will certainly be keeping their eyes on the second baseman when he returns to the field this month.
Similarly, you can expect opposing teams to keep their eyes on Ruiz when he recovers from his hamstring injury. While his offense in limited time this season (.560 OPS in 16 games) isn't anything special, teams are going to be clamoring for a veteran presence behind the dish like Ruiz come July. If his offense can pick up when he returns from the DL, you can expect his name to be on the list of players that might be wearing another uniform in August.
Although Ryan Howard isn't officially on the disabled list, his performance as of late might convince you otherwise. Despite the fact that he never really got going this season, the last 30 days have not been kind to the power hitting first baseman. Since May 12, he's had a .717 OPS with one homer and seven doubles, after hitting five home runs in the previous 30 days. His lack of power could be the result of age and a slowing bat, but it's been no secret that Howard has been struggling with a mild left knee injury since the middle of May. The injury did not appear to be severe enough to warrant a stay on the disabled list, it might make sense to revisit that thought given just how poorly Howard has been hitting as of late.
And even though the Phillies can ill-afford to lose another player to an injury, they'd be doing themselves a favor if it meant getting Howard right for the second half of the season.
All told, it's been a pretty miserable few weeks for the Phillies on the injury front. And while health might not help them get back to October, it'd be nice to see the entire team back on the field.