Predicting the Phillies Opening Day Roster 3.0
The Philadelphia Phillies are less than two weeks away from Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park. We have reached the point of Spring Training where Opening Day roster decisions need to be made. Let’s dive in and see where we currently stand in the position battles that have been happening for the last month and catch up with each player’s performances so far this Spring.
Here’s my third and final 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 at the start of Spring Training. JT had his cast removed last week and is currently rehabbing and taking batting practice while throwing up to 120 feet. Realmuto had an x-ray on his thumb yesterday and we are still awaiting the results. Girardi stated yesterday that there is still no timetable for return but things are trending in the right direction. He’s hopeful that JT will be ready for Opening Day and get a few at-bats in Clearwater before heading back to Philadelphia.
Knapp is slashing .238/.250/.583 with five hits and six RBI this Spring. Although unlikely, if Relamuto is not ready to go by Opening Day, Jeff Mathis would get the backup catcher role to start the season. Mathis is slashing .174/.208/.513 with four hits, one home run, one RBI, and one run scored this Spring.
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.
A slow start to Spring Training was expected for Rhys Hoskins. He is slashing .167/.211/.544 this Spring with three hits, one home run, two RBI, and three runs scored.
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.
This Spring, Jean Segura is slashing .190/.320/.558 with four hits, two RBI, and two runs scored.
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.
Bohm is having a fantastic Spring, slashing .323/.400/.916 with 10 hits, one home run, five RBI, and six runs scored.
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.
Didi is slashing .158/.238/.607 with three hits, four runs, one home run, and five RBI down in Clearwater.
Outfield: Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Odúbel Herrera, Matt Joyce, 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. Herrera seized the opportunity and is slashing .242/.242/.758 with eight hits, eight runs, three home runs, three RBI, and one stolen base this Spring.
Mickey Moniak has had a fantastic Spring Training but it’s likely he will start the season in Triple-A. Moniak is slashing .286/.400/1.162 with six hits, five runs, two home runs, and two RBI this Spring and will definitely be the first call-up for the Phillies later this season.
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.
This Spring, Kingery has failed to impress. Yesterday, he snapped a 13-game hitless streak that dated back to March 11th. Jetpax is batting .133 (4-for-30) with one double, one home run, one RBI, two walks, 14 strikeouts and a .454 OPS this spring. Luckily for Kingery, his ability to play multiple positions and his contract will land him a spot on the roster regardless.
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 and is slashing .294/.333/.804 with five hits, three runs, one home run, and two RBI this Spring.
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. In my last slate of predictions at the start of Spring Training, it was assumed that Spencer Howard and Vincent Velasquez would be in the fourth and fifth spot of the rotation. That is no longer the case. Matt Moore and Chase Anderson have both pitched well this Spring and have seemingly locked in the final rotation spots.
Vincent Velasquez could open the season as a member of the Phillies’ bullpen and an emergency starter if someone in the rotation is injured. Currently, both Zach Eflin and Spencer Howard are dealing with back spasms. They each threw bullpen sessions yesterday and hope to get back in the rotation during the final games of Spring Training this week.
Given the Phillies’ need to monitor Howard’s workload and his current back issues, it’s becoming more likely could see Howard slide to Triple-A to begin the season.
Relievers: Archie Bradley, Héctor Neris, José Alvarado, Connor Brogdon, JoJo Romero, Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson and Vince Velasquez
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.
Vinny will slide into the bullpen and Jojo Romero has pitched well enough to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. Howard will start the season in Triple-A.
Predicted Opening Day Lineup:
- Andrew McCutchen
- Rhys Hoskins
- Bryce Harper
- JT Realmuto
- Didi Gregorius
- Alec Bohm
- Odubel Herrera
- Jean Segura
- Aaron Nola
Mandatory Credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer