It is only five days until the Philadelphia Phillies open the season at the Texas Rangers, and the team as already started to trim its roster down to 25. Many faces that were expected to be on the opening day roster will instead start the season on the disabled list. Cole Hamels, Darin Ruf, and Freddy Galvis are just a few of the key players they Phillies will be without to start the season. Now they are charged with being more careful in deciding who will fill in while these key contributors recover. Let’s play armchair GM and try to predict who the Phillies will go with to start the season.
Carlos Ruiz is the obvious starter in the situation, ready to bounce back from a poor 2013 season. He has been one of the better hitters on the team this spring, currently hitting .300. His backup will be Wil Nieves, who has gained favor due to his handling of the team’s pitchers rather than his bat.
Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Cody Asche are the team’s starting infielders, but afterwards the picture is a bit more unclear. Due to injuries the only other infielder will likely be infielder Reid Brignac. The utility infielder nearly makes it in by default due to an injury to first baseman/outfielder Ruf and utility infielder Galvis being diagnosed with MRSA. That is not to say that Brignac did not earn his spot, as he has hit .333 this spring in 19 games. I’m definitely interested to see what he can bring to the Phillies with Galvis out indefinitely.
The outfield will be an important group of players for the Phillies, as most of the bench will likely come from this group. Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere, the team’s starting right and center fielders respectively, both enjoyed successful springs. Revere is the most important of the starting outfielders, as he will be the offense’s new spark plug as long as he plays the way he did before his injury last season. Byrd offers optimism of a good right handed power bat that the Phillies have missed since losing Jayson Werth. Meanwhile Domonic Brown will be under pressure to repeat the success he had last year in his breakout season.
John Mayberry Jr. is a safe call to make the roster, not only because of his contract, but also because he offers versatility since he can play all outfield positions as well as first base. Tony Gwynn Jr. and Cesar Hernandez have likely played their way onto the roster as well, hitting .300 and .257 respectively. Hernandez also offers versatility due to his ability to play multiple positions.
The starting rotation is all but set, as the Phillies will only need a four man rotation for the first two weeks. Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick, and Roberto Hernandez will hold things down for the first two weeks. Afterwards the team will need a fifth starter, and it will likely be Jeff Manship. Manship has the lowest ERA, 1.80, of the team’s spring starters and earlier in the spring earned the praise of manager Ryne Sandberg. Since Hamels is likely out until May, Manship should step in and keep the Phillies in games for the last two weeks of April.
Johnathan Papelbon is the team’s closer as long as he is with the team. After him Antonio Bastardo is likely the set up man with Mike Adams on the disabled list. He has struggled in the past, but a strong spring after strong 2013 before being suspended provide optimism that Bastardo could return to his 2011 form. Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus are two young arms who could still develop into key bullpen arms for the team. The two will look to build off of the success the had last season. Roster invitee Shawn Camp has pitched his way onto the roster, as he has a 1.08 ERA in 8 games. The last spot will likely go to B.J. Rosenberg, who has pitched for the team in the past and could fill multiple roles for the team.
Look forward to next week when I take a look at who the Phillies decided deserved to be on the roster.
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