Apr 9, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) reacts to striking out to end the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park. The Brewers defeated the Phillies 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Rumors: Philadelphia Phillies may bench Ryan Howard

Not even three seasons ago, Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard was coming off a 33 home run, 118 RBI campaign. Now he’s in danger of losing his starting gig and being placed in a platoon role with fellow first baseman, Darin Ruf.

After clubbing 58 home runs and driving in 149 RBI’s during the 2006 season, Howard emerged as one of the biggest offensive forces in the game. The slugger posted four consecutive seasons of 136+ RBI’s alongside four seasons of 45 home runs or more.

His numbers began to dip slightly after that, though Howard was still making a mockery of National League pitching, easily driving in over 100 runs while knocking out 30+ home runs with relative ease.

An unfortunate injury derailed Howard’s 2012 season and again in 2013, making the one time MVP candidate look anything but.

Struggling to maintain health and return to his former glory, Howard is batting a sub-par .235 with a .182 clip against left handed pitching. That has seemingly put the Phillies in a bad position, suggesting that they may be forced to put Howard on the bench when southpaw’s are on the mound.

“Yeah, if it happens to work,” Sandberg said of a platoon. “It’s an opportunity to have a lineup like that and if it produces that becomes an opportunity and possibility going forward, just to possibly to get some consistency with the offense against righthanded and lefthanded pitching.”

Howard, who is making $25 million dollars this season, has struck out 109 times in his last 253 appearances against left handed pitching.

Seems shocking to say, but the Phillies may be better off with Howard on the bench.

Tags: Philadelphia Phillies Ryan Howard