With sports shutting down across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty on when they will return, it seems fair to say the 2020 MLB season will be under 100 regular season games. This season will be exciting when it finally gets under way, each game will hold more weight in deciding each team’s playoff fate, and I believe the shortened season will benefit the Phillies.
The past two seasons, the Phillies got off to great starts, as they were in playoff position during both seasons by the half way mark. Extreme second half collapses saw the team miss the playoffs for the 8th and 9th consecutive seasons. A quick sprint to the finish could be exactly what the Phillies need in 2020 to finally make it back to the postseason.
Extended Rest for Veterans
The Phillies are a predominantly young team, with the exception of some key players that have been banged up over the past few seasons. Jake Arrieta is currently healthy but has spent the majority of his time with the Phillies on the injured list. I believe Arrieta having more time for his body to rest will only benefit his pitching when the season is finally under way. The shortened season will also allow the Phillies to be less cautious with Arrieta, letting him pitch his game every fifth day rather than preserving him for the long haul.
Andrew McCutchen is returning from an ACL tear that he suffered in San Diego in May of last season. The average recovery time for the injury is 9-12 months and it was looking like the Phillies were prepared to have him return in mid to late April (11 months). Now, Mccutchen will get a full 12 months at least and hopefully be 100% whenever the 2020 regular season begins.
Tommy Hunter and Serathony Dominquez were both injured during Spring Training. Dominquez suffered a set back in his return from rehabbing an elbow injury that he elected not to get surgery for. Hopefully, this time away can get him back to full strength, as he is one of the Phillies most valuable bullpen assets entering the 2020 season.
Tommy Hunter was expected to miss time to begin the season, so if enough time passes the Phillies could have their bullpen at 100%
Bohm and Howard Could be brought up sooner
Alec Bohm is the Phillies top prospect and was expected to reach the majors at some point this season. In Spring Training, Bohm was hitting everything thrown at him and he was showing great contact as he was barreling pitches daily. He is clearly the Phillies future plan at 3rd base and if the Jean Segura/Scott Kingery plan does not work at 3rd early on, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bohm called up early on in the shortened season. The downfall on Bohm is his defensive ability but with this impressive play at the plate, the Philas should have him planted at third for the forceable future.
Spencer Howard dominated in the minors last season which had him crawling up the top 100 prospect list entering 2020. I think he still needs about 50 more innings in the minors before he is ready to be brought up to the major league roster. If the Phillies are serious about making a run for the playoffs this year and they are not getting the production they need out of Arrieta, Pivetta, Eflin or possibly Rangez Suarez, I could see Howard getting promoted in the middle of the shortened season.
It is unfortunate baseball fans have to sit and wait for America’s pastime to return, but this time away could set up one of the most exciting baseball regular seasons since the steroid era.
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