The Phillies have placed catcher J.T. Realmuto on the 10-day injured list due to a left hand contusion, with a retroactive placement date of May 18. Matt Joyce has been activated from the 10-day IL to take Realmuto’s spot on the active roster.
Realmuto has missed the Phils’ last four games due to a bone bruise on his left hand. Prior to that injury, Realmuto had also missed a couple of games due to a knee bruise and a non-COVID illness, so a stint on the injured list might be what the star catcher needs in order to fully recover from this flurry of issues. Waiting to decide on Realmuto’s IL placement now looks like a mistake on the Phillies’ part, as between Realmuto and other minor injury absences, the team was short-handed on more than one occasion in recent days.
Regardless, the team now finds itself officially without the game’s best catcher for at least another week, counting the three days’ worth of backdating allotted for an IL placement. Realmuto has been even more productive than usual, hitting .294/.400/.486 with four home runs over his first 130 plate appearances of the season. Extrapolated over a full season, Realmuto’s batting average, OBP, wRC+ (144) and OPS+ (147) would all be new career bests for the 30-year-old backstop.
There is no way to truly replace Realmuto, so the Phillies will have to make do with the tandem of Andrew Knapp and Rafael Marchan while the former All-Star recuperates. Realmuto joins Didi Gregorius, Roman Quinn, and Scott Kingery on the injured list, in the biggest blow yet to a lineup that has been around the middle of the pack in overall offensive production.
Joyce’s return could provide some help, if the veteran shakes off his early-season slump (.423 OPS in 38 PA). Joyce suffered a right calf strain that sent him to the injured list on May 5. After signing a minor league deal with the Phillies in the offseason, Joyce has appeared in 18 games for the team, playing both corner outfield roles.