3/14/21 : Fifteen Days to Shine
The Phillies have 14 scheduled Grapefruit League games left and are on track to conclude 2021 Spring Training on March 29th with a game against the Blue Jays. That’s 15 days to determine which 26 players make the opening day roster that heads to Philadelphia to open the season against the Braves.
Pitching : 13 spots
If everyone stays healthy it seems most likely that the five pitcher rotation that opens the season will be Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Matt Moore and either Chase Anderson or Spencer Howard. It’s my belief that Anderson will earn and be awarded the fifth starter’s slot and Howard will be used as a multi inning weapon behind him out of what could be a new team strength ... the bullpen 😳.
If Spencer Howard indeed joins the bullpen crew that will leave seven slots to be claimed. From my observations four of those slots have been likely claimed thus far ... Connor Brogdon, Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado and Hector Neris have all stood out this spring. I think that Tony Watson and Brandon Kintzler are veteran relievers that solidify the unit and are both very likely to make the squad. David Hale, Jo Jo Romero, Sam Coonrad, Hector Rondon and Ramon Rosso will continue to battle for the last bullpen slot ... four are power arms, Romero, Hale and Rosso are multi inning options. The next 15 days are key to which fellas earn the plane tickets to Philadelphia for opening day 🤔.
Both Enyel De Los Santos and Bryan Mitchell have made folks notice them this spring ... De Los Santos has struck out nine batters in 3.1 IP and has shown a substantial increase in both velocity and command. Mitchell didn’t give up a run in his first four appearances and has proven himself as an intriguing power arm. It’s likely that both open the year with the Alternate Camp group in Allentown as “first call” reserves, neither are currently on the 40 man roster. Of course for taxi squad purposes as a Covid replacement the 40 man spot isn’t a requiremen.
I think Vince Velasquez will be traded before camp breaks ... acquiring a young hurler like the Angels RHP Jack Kochanowicz to include within the minor league development system would be a fair trade type. Perhaps Vinny Velo has a robust final two weeks of camp and claims a roster spot ... he’s definitely on the bubble.
Position Players : 13 spots
Catchers : ( 2 )
All things point to JT Realmuto being healthy by opening day, the next 15 days are targeted to getting him ready. Andrew Knapp continues to play very well, he’s a very solid backup ... for some teams he’d be strongly considered for the starting role. If JT isn’t ready then Rafael Marchan ( sidelined to date this spring with hamstring injury ) would be the short term fill in as the backup to Knapp.
Infielders : ( 6 )
The starting infield is set ... Rhys Hoskins at 1B, Jean Segura at 2B, Didi Gregorius at SS and Alec Bohm at 3B. If he’s healthy Brad Miller provides a strong reserve at either corner and second base to some extent. Miller can also play left field. He’s an important piece of the puzzle.
The battle over the next 15 days is the second infield reserve spot, a multi position defender need ... Scott Kingery would seem likely to have the inside track if he doesn’t win the starting center field job but his offensive struggles in camp to date hardly make him a lock for either slot. If Scottie continues to be unproductive it’s not a stretch that he could open the year with the Alternate Camp group in Allentown.
Nick Maton, CJ Chatham, Luke Williams and Ronald Torreyes all are capable multi position players. Each can play 2B,SS and 3B and Williams can also play 1B. Torreyes and Williams can also play the outfield. If Miller is disabled and/or Kingery can’t find his stroke there’s opportunities for these four fellas to fill the voids. If Kingery is slotted solely as the starting center fielder that also provides a chance for another to fill the infield reserve role.
Darick Hall homered today against the Pirates, if Miller is unable to start the season then perhaps Darick would be given a shot over the next 15 days to earn the lefty bat role as a reserve 1B/LF option on the opening day roster.
Things to keep an eye on over the next two weeks 👁 .
Outfielders ( 5 )
Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper are the corner outfield starters. Matt Joyce is the most likely fifth outfield reserve and primary pinch hitter off the bench.
That leaves two spots, either a “platoon” to share center field or one spot as the starting center fielder and the other as the fourth outfielder used in defensive switches and spot duties.
Adam Haseley came into camp as the likely center field starter and was on track until suffering an injury. He’s pushing to be back sooner than the projected four weeks of disability but even still he will need to ramp up when given the green light to play. Don’t count him out ... it’s my belief that he will make an impact before the season concludes.
We talked about Scott Kingery as an infield reserve, in an ideal roster makeup his defensive versatility would be used to play him semi regularly at multiple positions thus allowing for breaks for other players. That includes time in center field, perhaps in a full time role if he finds his offensive game over the next 15 days.
Odubel Herrera has taken the lead for the center field job during the first couple weeks of camp, if he continues on his current pace then it’s very likely he both earns and is awarded an opening day roster spot.
Roman Quinn has had both good and bad games this spring, he’s punched out 8 times already in 17 AB’s yet has five hits. He possesses game changing speed which makes him a viable option as both a starter and bench reserve. If Kingery is slotted in the multi position reserve role then a spot on the roster is available to Quinn, if Kingery is the starter in center field then it’s not so evident. Roman is out of options so it’s either big leagues or bust.
Travis Jankowski is a nice player and in a true open competition would seem to have a shot at a roster spot but I believe he’s at best targeted for the Alternate Camp else latches on with another club.
Mickey Moniak has had an outstanding camp thus far. He’s hitting a robust .429 ( 6 for 14 ) and has consistently hit the ball hard with 2 doubles, a triple and two dingers. I believe however that the development plan for him is to gain experience at the AAA level and that means an assignment to alternate camp and then the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. If though he continues to hit like he has over the next 15 days he puts himself into more than an “intriguing” view of the skipper and could force his way onto the opening day roster. He’d have to win the starting center fielder job outright for that to happen, doesn’t make sense to carry him as a reserve. Mickey is gonna play in the big leagues, we’ve never wavered on that projection ... it’s just when, the development idea being that when he gets there again he’s ready to stay long term.
My prediction at this point ... an outfield group of McCutchen, Harper, Herrera, Joyce and Quinn with Kingery in the multi position reserve slot I’ve assigned to the infield above. If Miller can’t start the year then either Maton or Chatham will be on the active roster.
Fifteen days to shine ... should be fun to follow.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️