With pitchers and catchers reporting this week, it is finally time to begin looking ahead to the 2020 MLB season. If you’re wondering what the opening day Philadelphia Phillies roster may look like, you are not alone.
Going into spring training, the lineup is pretty predictable for the most part. By the time 4:10 rolls around on March 26, this is how the lineup should shake out:
- Andrew McCutchen, LF
- Jean Segura, 2B
- Bryce Harper, RF
- Rhys Hoskins, 1B
- J.T. Realmuto, C
- Didi Gregorious, SS
- Scott Kingery, 3B
- Adam Haseley, CF
- Aaron Nola, P
It was speculated for the majority of this offseason that the Phillies were going to try to move on from the bloated contract of former starting shortstop Jean Segura. Failure to do so has put the team with a gridlock of sorts in the infield. With the assumption that top 3B prospect Alec Bohm gets the call up at some point this season, this leaves the Phillies with a surplus of infielders.
What will happen to natural second basemen Scott Kingery with Segura still in Philadelphia?
Segura has played 142 career games at second base and a grand total of 0 at third base. Putting Segura in a brand new position in his age 30 season would make him a defensive liability. The smartest move would be to have him at second base and have Kingery, who is the team’s most versatile player, at third base to start the year.
Kingery’s versatility has made him a major weapon for the team and they should use this to their advantage. When prospect Alec Bohm does get the call, Kingery would then move to centerfield to take the starting spot of former first round pick, Adam Haseley.
Haseley was simply okay in his rookie season last year slashing, .266/ .324/ .396. We should expect to see a leap in production this year but his bat isn’t something that should get in the way of Kingery in the lineup.
The bench will most likely include :
- Jay Bruce
- Nick Williams (yes he’s still here)
- Andrew Knapp
- Roman Quinn
An MLB bench typically carries five bench players, but with the rosters expanding from 25 to 26 men this year, the Phillies will likely carry another versatile bat off the bench. So the Phillies will likely pick two of these options:
- Neil Walker. Going into his 11th big league season. He was once a promising starting second baseman for the Pirates and has lost his way with age. He has hit .267/ .339/ .427 for his career and could be a very great bat off the bench for Joe Girardi.
- Josh Harrison. Speak of the Pirates! Harrison was once an all star for the Pirates but like Walker has lost his way. Harrison was a lightning rod throughout his career and could provide a spark at some point for the Phillies.
- Logan Forsythe. Forsythe has mashed left handed pitching for his career and could serve as the go to right handed bat off of the bench if he makes the club.
- Odubel Herrera. Oh Dubel, this guy again? It is no secret Odubel Herrera has the ability to win a batting title but he has been consistently inconsistent in his career. He was designated for assignment (DFA) this off-season following his suspension for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy. I peg him as a long shot to start the year with the team, but you never know.
- Phil Gosselin. Gosselin is from the area and fared pretty well in his time with the Phillies last year. He was actually the Phillies best bench bat hitting .262/ .294/ .308. He could be a nice depth piece.
On paper, the Joe Girardi led Phillies shouldn’t have a problem getting runs to cross the plate. Assuming Rhys Hoskins and Jean Segura get back to their 2018 form, the Phillies lineup actually looks pretty good.
The problem with this year’s Phillies will undoubtedly be the starting rotation.
- Aaron Nola
- Zack Wheeler
- Jake Arrieta
- Zach Eflin
- Nick Pivetta/Vince Velasquez
Yes, another year of “break out Pivetta” and Vinny Velo getting a shot to break the Phillies starting rotation, can you believe it? Well, believe it. The Phillies for the fourth year in a row will bank on one of those two to get them by. Partial owner John Middleton and the Phillies general manager Matt Klentak made it a point to stay under the league luxury tax this offseason and rely on these in-house names to take a step forward.
The question every Phillies fan is asking is “Can a rotation headlined by Aaron Nola and newly acquired Zack Wheeler get the Phillies back to the postseason for the first time since 2011?” I hope so.
Starting pitching prospect Spencer Howard should get the call along with Bohm at some point this season. Howard pitched to a 2.03 ERA last season in 71 innings between Single and Double-A, making him a true asset for the Phillies organization. Baseball America named him the 27th best prospect in all of baseball this offseason. He figures to get a shot with the Phillies this year because of their rotational issues.
Finally, the bullpen. The weakest part of the 2019 Phillies hasn’t actually changed all that much since the season ended last year. The bullpen will likely figure to have a few key guys coming back from injury: Adam Morgan, Víctor Arano and most notably, flamethrower Seranthony Domínguez. Some guys stepped up last year, Hector Neris, Ranger Suárez and José Álverez among them.
Now to the interesting part. The majority of the Phillies’ offseason additions have been low risk, high reward guys. These include:
- Francisco Liriano. Liriano is a 36-year-old lefty and signed a minor league contract with the team, and pitched to a 3.47 ERA last year with the Pirates. He also has experience closing games.
- Robert Stock. Stock hasn’t had much success in the majors but is pegged to be a breakout candidate due to his high spin rate and fastball velocity. He pitched two years with the San Diego Padres to a 4.11 ERA.
- Drew Storen. Storen is a former first round pick that maybe hasn’t lived up to expectations, but has pitched in major roles in the past. Hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 due to injuries, but on a minor league deal he has the chance to show if he still has anything left. He has closed games for multiple teams including the division rival Nationals.
- Anthony Swarzak. Swarzak is a veteran pitcher looking to prove he’s still got it, just like Storen. He has pitched 10 major league seasons and the Phillies will be his 9th team. He has some closing experience with 10 career saves, but figures to be a middle reliever in this uncertain Phillies bullpen.
No one will know for sure how the 2020 Phillies will perform this year, but on paper I have them as the second or third best team in the division. The Atlanta Braves are far and away the best team, but from there I see a toss up between the Phillies and the defending World Series champions, Washington Nationals.
If the Phillies lineup hits like we expect them too, Bohm and Howard contribute like they are capable of contributing and the starting rotation keeps them in a few ball games, I don’t think there is any doubt there will be another red October.
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