No National League DH in 2021 is bad for the Phillies
Major League Baseball informed National League ball clubs that they should begin preparing for next season under the assumption that the universal DH will not be returning in 2021. Although there is still a shot that the DH will return, the longer the union and league wait without an agreement, the less likely it will actually happen.
No DH is bad for every National League team. The Braves will have to figure out what to do with Marcell Ozuna who excelled in the DH spot for them last season and the Mets won’t be able to set Dominic Smith and Pete Alonzo in their lineups on a daily basis. The Phillies too will suffer from sending a pitcher to the plate rather than a DH like they did last season.
Looking at last season, while Bryce Harper was battling back injuries, it was beneficial to keep him in the DH slot rather than having him play in the field. Looking ahead, Rhys Hoskins is returning from a UCL surgery. He’s expected to be back before Opening Day but having Hoskins playing on an everyday basis the first few weeks coming off an injury certainly isn’t ideal. With no DH, teams aren’t given the luxury of working injured players back into the lineup, it’s either play or don’t play.
This is a reach given the fact that we’re unsure of JT Realmuto is returning, but assuming he does return, the Phillies would be able to maximize his impact by keeping him off the field and in the DH spot when rest is needed. Likewise, Andrew Knapp proved last season that he can contribute at the plate. Having a platoon at the catcher position where one can remain in the lineup as a DH would be huge for the Phillies next season.
Speaking of injuries, Andrew McCutchen is now two years removed from ACL surgery. Although it seems that Girardi is confident that the 34-year old can be an everyday left fielder, it’s easy to think that Cutch would be much better splitting time between DH and left field throughout the season. Cutch was brutal in the field last season and without a DH, you would have to assume the Phillies will need to sign another left fielder to ease the workload. You could also see Adam Haseley or Roman Quinn a lot more, which is certainly up for debate on whether either player can be efficient enough in a platoon situation.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t make sense to me why the MLB would even consider sending pitchers to the plate. I have never liked the fact that only the National League has to do so. In an ideal situation, the Phillies will have a DH in 2021 and the MLB will let teams know sooner rather than later.
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