Phillies baseball is officially upon us, people!
Today for the first time, every player on the Phillies roster has reported to Clearwater for the start of Spring Training. This is the first season under Dave Dombrowski, and fans already have more excitement for the team than they ever had under Matt Klentak. Over the next month or so, the Phillies will try to find the best 26 players to be able to compete for an NL East Title. While much of the roster is set in stone, there are a few spots still up for grabs.
“We’re in it to win it,” Joe Girardi exclaimed on the first day pitchers and catchers reported. The offseason retool by DD could be the first Phillies team since 2011 to make the playoffs. But were all the moves enough to dethrone the Braves? That’s yet to be seen.
Here’s Full Scale’s first roster projection for the 2021 season:
Catchers (2): JT Realmuto and Andrew Knapp
This position is a no brainer. The Phillies gave Realmuto $115.5 million last month to be the starter for the next five years. Arguably the best catcher in baseball, JT will be holding down the fort for the foreseeable future. Last season he slashed .266/.349/.491, while providing his normal strong defense from behind the plate. Though he did fracture his thumb a few weeks ago, he should be ready for Opening Day. His backup will be Andrew Knapp; while he had a career year offensively last season, he’s an average backup at best. That’s fine, however, with Realmuto already set for the lion share of starts.
Rafael Marchan, who the coaching staff loves, is the next man up if anyone goes down. The Phillies also brought in Jeff Mathis, a defense-first veteran, on a Minor league deal just in case.
Infielders (4): Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, and Alec Bohm
The four players on the dirt are the same as they were to end the year. Hoskins, coming off offseason elbow surgery, should be ready by Opening Day. After a slow start to the 2020 season he seemed to find his groove before to going down with injury. Jean Segura is penciled in as the starter at the keystone, and while he isn’t a world-beater, he should be able to produce at that spot.
The Phillies gave Gregorius $28 million to come back and play shortstop for them after a strong 2020. He clearly fit in with the team and at Citizens Bank, and he’ll slot right in the five or six spot in the batting order once again. Bohm, coming off a strong rookie campaign, will also be manning the hot corner again. He showed improvement defensively, and it‘ll be interesting to see how he handles a full season at the position.
Outfielders (5): Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, and Matt Joyce
Harper and McCutchen are locked in the corner spots. They’ve been entrenched there for two years, and that won’t change in 2021. The real question is who’s going to be playing centerfield. I made my argument for Haseley, and ultimately think it’s his job to lose. There’ll be an open competition for the spot in camp, though, with Haseley, Quinn, and Kingery vying for the job.
The wildcard in here is Odubel Herrera. The embattled CF was invited to mini camp this season, and he could earn a spot with his play. I left him off because I just don’t see him on this team given his history, but he’ll get a chance. Additionally, Matt Joyce will be a good pinch hitter for this team off the bench; he could be the 2021 verison of Jay Bruce.
Utility (2): Scott Kingery and Brad Miller
The last two bench spots are going to Miller and Kingery. Kingery, an infielder by trade, has experience playing all over the field. He could reasonably win the CF job, but he’ll need to show an improved contact skill to be in the race. Miller, who signed a $3.5 million deal, will be the top bench option for the Phillies. He’s coming off a strong year with the Cardinals, much of which came out of the cleanup spot. He won’t be our cleanup batter, but he should give the bench the jolt it needed coming into 2021.
Plus, he’ll bring plenty of Bamboo!
Starting Rotation (5): Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Matt Moore, and Chase Anderson
The top three in the rotation are all returning from last year. Nola and Wheeler were the anchors of this staff, and the same should be expected in 2021. Eflin took a huge step forward last season and was Top 10 in many underlying pitching statistics. Many, including myself, expect him to build on his 2020 with an even stronger 2021. He, for one, does not lack the confidence, saying just last week that he sees himself as a No.1 starter.
Moore and Anderson are both newcomers to the rotation, but should come in and eat innings for the team. Moore didn’t pitch in the big leagues last year, but was dynamite over in Japan. His last run in the MLB didn’t end smoothly, but he’ll look to carry over some of his success from overseas. Anderson has been one of the more consistent pitchers in the Majors over the last few seasons, but is coming off a down year. He is a prime bounce back candidate, and one who could be a very solid fifth starter.
Bullpen (8): Archie Bradley, Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado, Sam Coonrod, Connor Brogdon, Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson, and Vince Velazquez
What a difference a year makes. A season after they finished with a 7.06 ERA as a group, DD certainly upgraded the pen. More than half of the projected bullpen would be new additions to this team; led by Archie Bradley, who will slot into the closer role. Neris and Alvarado look to take control of the seventh and eighth innings. Coonrod, who was acquired in a deal with the Giants, gives the Phillies a big arm to use early in the game.
Brogdon showed some real promise last season, and should be able to build on that momentum. Kintzler and Watson are both on minor league deals, but the guarantee of $3 million that they both got makes me think they’re going to make it. After losing the battle for a rotation spot, Velazquez settles in as the long man. A noticeable omission would be JoJo Romero, but he has options left. I see him starting in the Minors, though he’ll be the first one up if anyone falters.