From Opening Day to June 12, David Fletcher looked out of sorts. He was slashing .255/.287/.294 and had been demoted to the No. 9 spot in the lineup. Maddon hadn’t lost faith in Fletcher, but knew something drastic needed to happen to get him back to his usual self.
Then, that drastic moment happened. Starting June 13, Fletcher rattled off a 26-game hit streak in which he batted over .450. Since June 13, he’s played in all but one game — June 18 against the Detroit Tigers — and is slashing .351/.385/.459.
However, a more condensed look would show that he is 5-for-25 in his last seven games, leading to some questions about potential fatigue. Maddon isn’t all too concerned, as he knows the way Fletcher approaches the game and the system of communication the two have in place, according to Doug Padilla of The O.C. Register:
“He’s just different and I’m watching him and I’m talking to him all the time,” manager Joe Maddon said before Saturday’s game against the Astros, when Fletcher was scheduled to bat second and play second base. “We have a deal. When he needs a day, he will let me know and I am watching him the whole time.”
“(Fletcher) is just a different animal and has a different method in a great way, not a good way,” Maddon said. “With a guy like him, I’m listening right now. Like Shohei, I’m listening right now.”
Fletcher is one of the most important cogs in the Angels offense. His ability to get on base and be aggressive with opposing pitchers has made him a dangerous player to place in front of the power hitters in the lineup. He currently leads all of baseball in contact rate.
If he is slowly getting fatigued, perhaps a day off would serve him well. The Angels are about to embark on a 10-game road trip, so it’s certainly possible that Fletcher winds up on the bench for at least one of those games.
Shohei Ohtani finding success in leadoff spot
Fletcher’s struggles have surprisingly all come from the No. 2 spot in the lineup, a change Maddon made to force pitchers to throw strikes to Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani made the move to the leadoff spot about one week ago, and has two home runs and multiple extra-base hits in that time.