Questions for the Phillies heading into the final week of Spring Training
The Phillies are just over a week away from Opening Day. They will wrap up Grapefruit League play this week in Clearwater, Florida and then start crafting their roster ahead of their opening series against the Atlanta Braves. The Phillies still have unanswered questions in their starting rotation thanks to injuries to both Zach Eflin and Spencer Howard. They also need to trim down their bullpen to eight arms. The centerfield position still remains in question as well, with Odubel Herrera, Scott Kingery, and Roman Quinn all fighting for a starting job while Adam Haseley will start the season on the injury list.
Here’s where everything currently stands with the Phillies heading into the final week of Spring Training.
Over the past week, nothing that happened helped make Girardi’s job easier in deciding roster spots. Both Spencer Howard and Zach Eflin have pitched well this Spring, but each went down with back spasms and missed their last starts. Both Eflin and Howard will test their backs in bullpen sessions today.
Assuming Eflin passes the test, he should be able to jump back in the rotation this week and get one more start before the season begins. Eflin, the third man in the Phillies’ rotation, would be scheduled to pitch on April 7th if healthy.
Spencer Howard is just looking for a spot on the roster. It’s likely that Matt Moore and Chase Anderson are locked in as the fourth and fifth starters for the Phillies, leaving Howard as the “sixth man” and a “long-inning” reliever out of the bullpen. What remains unclear, is if the Phillies will opt to send Howard down to Triple-A to pitch in a starting rotation in the minor leagues to begin the 2021 season. My hope, is that Howard will join the bullpen and say on the Phillies roster pitching against major league talent.
Entering the final week of Spring Training, it’s safe to say that half of the Phillies’ eight available bullpen jobs have been finalized, with Hector Neris, Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, and Connor Brogdon locked in as the top four arms. From there, you now have the rest of the relievers this Spring fighting for the last four spots.
Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson, who entered Phillies camp on minor-league deals, can opt out of their contracts if they don’t like their chances of making the Opening Day roster. Both Kintzler and Watson have pitched well this Spring and should both make the Opening Day roster so I doubt we will see either reliever opt-out this week. Hector Rondon would be the third pitcher in camp on a minor league deal with this option. Rondon has not pitched well this season and is a long-shot on making the final roster.
From there, the Phillies have now Sam Coonrod, David Hale, Bryan Mitchell, and JoJo Romero fighting for the final one or two bullpen spots. Spencer Howard and Vince Velasquez, depending on the health of Zach Eflin, could also slide into the bullpen. For every addition that the Phillies make to the 40-man roster, someone must be subtracted from the equation. Coonrod, Romero, Howard would be the top three finalists for the bullpen as the Phillies may try to trade Velasquez if they don’t believe he is needed as an extra rotation arm in the event of injury.
We all woke up to the news that JT Realmuto would be making his Spring Training debut today in the designated hitter spot of the Phillies’ lineup against the Tigers. Soon after that was announced, he was then scratched from the lineup. According to Joe Girardi, the hope was that Realmuto could play today but after experiencing some soreness in his hand, Girardi opted to sit Realmuto for today’s game.
Realmuto is likely to be ready to join the Phillies this week to get some live at-bats before Opening Day on April 1st.
1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Bryce Harper, DH
4. Alec Bohm, 3B
5. Matt Joyce, RF
6. Andrew Knapp, C
7. Darick Hall, 1B
8. Luke WIlliams, 2B
9. Ronald Torreyes, SS
Chase Anderson, RHP
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY