Phillies New Strategy Against Harper
With Bryce Harper off to such a great start, it’s been a surprise all season that teams had not intentionally walked him more often. Before last night’s loss, the reigning NL MVP had only been intentionally walked twice this season. Last night, the Phillies equaled that total.
While Harper wasn’t intentionally walked by Velasquez in the first, the Phillies’ right-hander did pitch around him and walked him on five pitches. Then, he was given the free pass intentionally in the third and the seventh.
However, the one spot where they should’ve walked him when they didn’t was the fifth. Velasquez got ahead of Harper 0-2, but he stayed patient and found a way to hit a 97 mile per hour fastball into left for a single to drive in Michael Taylor and cut the lead to a run.
Then, after an intentional walk in the seventh, Harper came up to at-bat as the winning run against Jeanmar Gomez, who he homered off of in their last meeting. During that at-bat, he fouled off four straight pitches from behind 1-2 in the count, but he ended up grounding out on a changeup to end the game.
You would think that a lot of teams would follow the Phillies model during the season of giving Harper the free base. However, it was good to see the Nats’ right fielder continue to stay patient and even come through with another RBI for the team, albeit in a losing effort.
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