Tommy Joseph was outrighted off the Phillies 40-man roster after the 2015 season, but he went unclaimed and looked to prove himself as a first baseman after years of missed at-bats in the minors due to the numerous concussions he suffered while catching. He produced immediately after a mid-May promotion to the big leagues, hitting .323 with seven home runs and a 1.010 OPS in his first 21 games while leaping Ryan Howard on the depth chart. Joseph slumped badly from mid-June into early July as pitchers adjusted to him by throwing more offspeed stuff. He adjusted back, hitting .259 with 10 home runs and an .829 OPS over 162 at-bats in the second half. Joseph walked at a 3.7 percent clip in the first half, but improved that to 8.6 percent while also cutting his strikeout rate from 24.7 percent to 18.9 percent after the All-Star break. Joseph was lethal against lefties last season, and more than held his own against righties. With Ryan Howard out of the picture, Joseph could offer 30-homer pop in his first full season as the everyday first baseman.
Joseph is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Braves. Joseph has yet to find his groove at the plate, posting just two multi-hit games in his first 16 appearances. He'll be replaced by Brock Stassi on Sunday, but should be back in the lineup for Tuesday's matchup with the Marlins.
Joseph went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run during Thursday's win over the Mets. It was just the second multi-hit game of the campaign for Joseph, and he now sports an underwhelming .208/.250/.313 slash line. He's primarily batted sixth this season and hit 21 home runs through just 347 plate appearances as a rookie last year, so there is power and RBI potential here. However, expecting a significant improvement in the batting average column is likely ill-advised.
Joseph went 1-for-3 with a solo home run and a walk in a 3-2 loss to the Nationals on Friday. The homer, Joseph's first of the season, came off a 95 mph fastball from Stephen Strasburg. The young slugger is off to a slow start with just four hits and 10 strikeouts in his first nine games. He has some time to get things going, but could be pushed for his job this summer if Rhys Hoskins keeps hitting at Triple-A and Joseph has not found his rhythm in the majors.
Joseph is out of the lineup for Monday's game against the Mets, Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia reports. With the Phillies due to face a tough right-hander in Jacob deGrom, Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin will hold Joseph out for the second time this season, allowing the lefty-hitting Brock Stassi to pick up a start at first base. Joseph doesn't look to be in danger of falling into a platoon just yet, but he'll need to pick up the pace after getting off to a slow start -- 2-for-20 with eight strikeouts in six games.
Joseph has returned to the Phillies' lineup Friday against the Nationals, playing first base and batting sixth. He probably needed a breather to correct his 0-for-8, five-strikeout start to the season. Joseph will not have an easy matchup this time, facing Nats ace Max Scherzer.