Last night during the Reds game there was brief twitter exchange between two of Redleg Nation’s writers about Phillip Ervin. Jordan Barhorst noted that Ervin might be good. That warranted a response from Jason Linden about what a potential platoon of Ervin and Jesse Winker could do if utilized.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last three days, you’ve missed the Phillip Ervin show. It’s the hottest thing to hit the airwaves since The Wonders were flying up the charts out of Erie, Pennsylvania with their hit That Thing You Do!
It’s not that Ervin wasn’t having a solid season before this recent hot streak – he was hitting .280/.345/.460 before going 6-for-6 in Colorado on Saturday. But over the last three days he’s raised his line to .361/.418/.590 on the season. This year he’s held his own against right-handed pitching, posting a .732 OPS. It’s been his absolute demolition of left-handed pitching that’s stood out, though. Small sample size alert warning right here – but Phillip Ervin is hitting .480/.552/.840 against left-handed pitching this season.
Offense hasn’t exactly been consistent for the Reds this season. Manager David Bell has tried platooning plenty of players this season. Jesse Winker has rarely played against left-handed pitchers. The same can be said for Derek Dietrich. Both of those two players have spent some time in the outfield, and for Winker, it’s the only place he’s played. With Scooter Gennett back from the injured list, there’s one less spot for Dietrich to play on most days.
That does leave the Reds with some good options around the field – at least when it comes to finding offense. Matching up against right-handed pitchers you can have a lineup that includes two of Scooter Gennett, Derek Dietrich, and Jesse Winker starting at second base and in left field. When a left-handed pitcher toes the rubber you can choose to go with Jose Peraza at second base and play Phillip Ervin in left field. Then you have your bench loaded for if and when a right-hander enters the game.
So the question comes back around to is it time to find more at-bats for Ervin? On the surface, the immediate response says “yes”, and it’s tough to disagree with it. Of course you want to find more at-bats for a guy who has an OPS of .999. The more difficult question is exactly where do that at-bats come from? Yasiel Puig is hitting .388/.430/.806 since June 11th. Nick Senzel is the center fielder on the team. Both are going to be in the lineup every day.
And therein lies the problem. It’s just tough right now to find more at-bats for Phillip Ervin. That is unless you’re going to play him over Nick Senzel or Yasiel Puig. And spoiler alert: The Reds aren’t going to.
For the time being it would seem that time for Ervin is going to be when a left-handed pitcher takes the mound for the opposition. The Reds have said they plan to be buys at the deadline. Plans can change, of course. Maybe a spot could open up if the team decides to move someone in a trade.
What this recent surge, and his overall 2019 season could be doing for Phillip Ervin, though, is placing his name on the “players to consider for starting corner outfielder for the 2020 Cincinnati Reds” list. Yasiel Puig is a free agent after the year. Until something changes that, Ervin has to be in the conversation to take one of the open spots in the field. Whether that’s left field with Jesse Winker sliding to right, or just playing Ervin in right isn’t that important.