Predicting the Phillies Opening Day Roster 2.0
When the Philadelphia Phillies brought Dave Dombrowski in as the Vice President of Baseball Operations, Dombrowski promised the Phillies and fans alike that his goal was to re-tool the Phillies, not rebuild them, heading into the 2021 season. Dombrowski did just that by first and foremost, re-signing JT Realmuto and Didi Gregorius and adding pitching depth for both the rotation and bullpen.
Joe Girardi opened up Spring Training stating that the Phillies were “in it to win it”. The question still remains if the Phillies have done enough to actually compete in what’s shaping up to be an extremely competitive National League East. The Phillies are looking for their first winning season and postseason appearance since 2011.
Here’s my second version of what the Opening Day will be for the 2021 season.
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto and Andrew Knapp
The Phillies re-signed JT Realmuto to a five-year, $115.5 million contract last month. Last year, the best catcher in baseball slashed .266/.349/.491 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI. Andrew Knapp will backup Realmuto. He proved to be a viable backup last year, slashing .278/.404/.444 with 2 home runs and 15 RBI.
Realmuto fractured his thumb last week and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. The hope is that Realmuto will be ready for Opening Day but that remains unclear. Rafael Marchan is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. If Realmuto isn’t ready for Opening Day, Marchan will likely get the call to backup Knapp to start the season.
First base: Rhys Hoskins
Rhys Hoskins had his season cut short last year after suffering a left elbow injury. The Phillies expect him to be ready for Opening Day. Last year, Rhys Hoskins slashed .245/.384/.503 with 10 home runs and 26 RBI. He is an important piece for the center of the Phillies batting order. How important? In the 2020 season, the Phillies were 8-2 when Hoskins hit a home run, and 11-4 when Hoskins had at least one RBI. The Phillies were 6-14 when Hoskins did not play.
Second base: Jean Segura
Joe Girardi opened Spring Training stating that Jean Segura, commonly known as Jimmy Cigs, will be his primary second baseman. Last year, Segura slashed .266/.347/.422 with seven home runs and 25 RBI. Scott Kingery will likely backup Segura at second base as a super-utility player that Girardi hopes to slide in as needed across multiple positions this season.
Third base: Alec Bohm
Bohm was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2018 and was called up to the majors August 13th of last year. At 24 years old, he slashed .338/.400/.481 with a .881 OPS in 44 games. He had four home runs, 11 doubles, and 23 RBIs in 160 at-bats. What’s even more impressive is that Bohm shined with runners on base. He led the majors with a .452 batting average (19 for 42) with runners in scoring position. His on-base percentage with RISP was .519 – good for third-best in the majors behind All-Star players Juan Soto and Freddie Freeman.
Shortstop: Didi Gregorius
Gregorius was great in his lone season with the Phillies, hitting .284 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI while playing in all 60 games last season. He re-signed with the Phillies this offseason on a two-year, $28 million contract. Didi was one of the Phillies best offensive players last year and the Phillies hope he can continue to be a reliable left handed batter in the 2021 season.
Outfield: Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Odúbel Herrera, Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn
Obviously one name that stands out on the list of outfielders for the Philadelphia Phillies would be Odubel Herrera. Herrera slashed .276/.333/.423/.756 with 60 home runs and 233 RBI in just over four years in the majors with the Phillies before serving an MLB mandated suspension without pay in 2019 for simple-assault involving his girlfriend in an Atlantic City Casino.
Herrera has been invited to the Phillies minicamp, which is essentially the Phillies version of Minor League camp this Spring. It will give him the opportunity to earn his spot on the Opening Day roster. If he plays well, it’s likely that he will be awarded the opportunity. If not, a platoon of Haseley, Kingery, and Quinn will see time in center field.
Mickey Moniak got his first big league action last year but failed to impress in limited appearances. He’s also in the hunt for an Opening Day roster spot and someone to keep an eye on as Spring Training continues down in Clearwater, Florida.
Utility/Bench: Scott Kingery and Brad Miller
Scott Kingery had a rough 2020. He started the year battling COVID-19. On top of that, Kingery struggled with his conditioning and breathing for weeks after returning and battled a shoulder injury which ultimately landed him on the injured list for the first half of September. Kingery finished the year batting .159 with 12 runs, 3 home runs, and 6 RBI. In 2019, Kingery was productive, batting .258 with 19 home runs and 55 RBI.
Miller, 31, hit .263 with 12 home runs, 21 RBIs and a .941 OPS in 130 plate appearances with the Phillies in 2019. The veteran utility man spent last season with the Cardinals where he slashed .232/.357/.451. Miller brings a slightly above-average offensive bat off the bench, but his true value lies in his defensive versatility. Much like Scott Kingery, Miller can play multiple infield and outfield positions
Rotation: Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Matt Moore and Chase Anderson
Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin are locks for the 1-2-3 slots in the Phillies’ starting rotation. For the four and five spots, Vincent Velasquez and Spencer Howard are currently slated to take those positions. However, with the offseason signings of Matt Moore and Chase Anderson, it’s likely we will see Velasquez slide into the bullpen, who could definitely use him, and Howard start off in Triple-A.
Relievers: Archie Bradley, Héctor Neris, José Alvarado, Connor Brogdon, JoJo Romero, Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson and Vince Velasquez
Archie Bradley, Hector Neris, and Jose Alvarado will lead a completely rebuilt bullpen for the Phillies in 2021. Connor Brogdon and Jojo Romero will hope to build off their strong appearances from last year, newcomers Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson, will land jobs in the bullpen, and Vince Velasquez will also find a spot after failing to make the starting rotation.
Another reliever to keep an eye on would be Hector Rondon, who struggled last year but signed with the Phillies this offseason. Rondon had a 3.06 ERA from 2014-2019 with the Cubs and Astros.
Predicted Opening Day Lineup:
- Andrew McCutchen
- Rhys Hoskins
- Bryce Harper
- JT Realmuto
- Didi Gregorius
- Alec Bohm
- Jean Segura
- Scott Kingery
- Aaron Nola
Mandatory Credit: The Philadelphia Phillies