Murphy went 1-for-4 with a solo home run in Wednesday's 9-2 loss to the Brewers.
A pair of solo blasts by Murphy and Paul Goldschmidt comprised just about all of the offense on the afternoon for the struggling Diamondbacks, losers of seven straight and 13 of their last 14. The Diamondbacks have only scored 26 runs over the 14-game stretch, which may prompt manager Torey Lovullo to phase the struggling Alex Avila (.128/.253/.205 line across 91 plate appearances this season) out of the lineup in favor of Murphy and his comparatively hotter bat. While Murphy's .270 on-base percentage isn't much better than Avila's, the 27-year-old backstop has at least been a plus-power source for Arizona. Murphy's .541 slugging percentage and .295 ISO trail only the injured A.J. Pollock (thumb) for tops on the team this season.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo acknowledged Sunday that Murphy could earn more starts at catcher in the near future, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. "Yes, I'm taking notice of what [Murphy] doing," Lovullo said. "Is there going to be a change [behind the plate?] Possibly. But I need to sit guys down and have conversations with them before any type of movement is made in that area. It's just a thought I'm having right now."
With 10 starts this season, Murphy has entered the lineup on fewer occasions than Alex Avila (20) and Jeff Mathis (16), but the 27-year-old has been the clear top performer from a fantasy standpoint. Murphy has already smacked four home runs and seven extra-base hits in his 59 plate appearances, lifting his OPS to a career-high .794. His productivity is more noteworthy in light of the season-long struggles of Avila, who is slashing a putrid .132/.258/.211 while striking out in 47.2 percent of his plate appearances. Avila seems more likely than Mathis, a defensive standout who typically plays once or twice a week, to cede playing time if Lovullo elects to make room for Murphy in the starting nine more frequently.
Murphy went 2-for-4 with a home run, three RBI and a run scored Saturday against the Mets.
Murphy continued to terrorize left-handed pitching with his fourth inning home run off Steven Matz. He now has three home runs and is slugging over .550 when he has the platoon advantage this season. While his season long stat-line looks more impressive than Alex Avila -- the team's starting catcher -- Murphy is hitting just .192/.250/.385 against right-handed pitching in 26 at-bats this season.
With three home runs and six extra-base knocks in 44 plate appearances, Murphy has been a surprise power source in a small sample of work. Though Murphy has seen less action to date than No. 1 backstop Alex Avila, he could ascend to the top of the depth chart if Avila fails to demonstrate much offensive progress in his subsequent starts. The 31-year-old Avila is slashing just .184/.286/.306 (62 wRC+) against right-handed pitching this season, a far cry from his .249/.361/.424 career line in those matchups.
Alex Avila started the game behind the plate for the Diamondbacks, but received the early hook from manager Torey Lovullo after striking out in all three of his at-bats. That paved the way for Murphy to serve as the catcher for the final three innings, with the backstop coming through with a clutch base hit in the bottom of the seventh. It's clear the Diamondbacks prioritize defense above all else from their catchers, but with Avila batting .163 and striking out in 44.8 percent of his plate appearances, Lovullo may be warming up to the idea of giving Murphy some more work. Jeff Mathis also remains on the roster and should continue to earn a start or two per week, so Murphy probably wouldn't be in store for a major boost in opportunities even if Avila's role declines a bit.
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