4 Phillies Storylines to Follow for 2020 Season
The back-and-forth contentious negotiating is behind us, its time to play ball!
MLB action will be returning in late July, and here in the Delaware Valley, we will finally get to see Phillies baseball, albeit in a shortened 60-game season.
While the Phillies weren’t expected to be World Series contenders in 2020, there were still a number of storylines to follow, after changing managers in the offseason.
Now with just a 60 game sprint to the finish-line, many new storylines have emerged, along with the ones that existed in Clearwater during spring training 1.0.
Here’s some of the top Phillies storylines to watch in 2020:
1. Will Alec Bohm be a part of the everyday lineup?
Currently Alex Bohm is the Phillies top overall prospect and the No. 30 prospect in all of baseball per MLB Pipeline.
The question is will the Phillies use him in this 60-game shortened season?
With the addition of the designated hitter in the National League, there is a possible role for the the third overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft after a successful career at Wichita State University.
The Phillies could use Bohm as their DH against left-handed pitching, giving him an opportunity to get a taste of big league pitching, after feasting on minor league arms since being drafted.
In two minor league seasons since being drafted, Bohm hit .293 with 21 home runs and 97 RBI.
in 13 Grapefruit League games, before the coronoavirus shutdown, Bohm looked impressive. The 23-year old hit .409 with a .440 on-base-percentage in 25 plate appearances.
While he likely won't see much time at third base this season, the Phillies can get him into the lineup and get him some regular at-bats as the DH.
2. Which Rhys Hoskins should we expect?
Alex Bohm is certainly the Phillies best prospect, but at one time that was Hoskins.
After blasting 18 home runs through his first 50 games in 2017, the former fifth round pick as struggled to find consistency at the plate.
While Hoskins has slammed 63 home runs over the past two season, spanning 313 games, he do so while only hitting a combined .235 with 323 strikeouts.
While the strikeouts could use some work, Hoskins did lead the league in walks last season with 116. While there was no mistaking Hoskins’ power in his short time in the majors, he will need to show more consistency to hit behind Bryce Harper.
3. The Starting Rotation
As spring training continued in Clearwater, it seemed we still had more questions about the rotation than answers.
Staff ace Aaron Nols, and Zach Wheeler, who signed a five-year $118 million contract in December, was poised to lead the charge with Jake Arrieta the only other starter penciled in to a spot in the rotation.
So who will be rounding out the rotation?
The best guess would be Zach Eflin would be the Phillies No. 4 starter with guys like Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and 24-year-old lefty Ranger Suarez battling it out for the No. 5 role.
However things could change with this new 60-game format with rookie Spencer Howard entering the equation.
Howard was likely to start the year in the minors, but with a shortened season, there is a good chance he opens the year with the team, and if he does - he likely will be in the teams starting rotation.
The Phillies No. 2 overall prospect and No. 34 in baseball pitched in just one inning at spring training, but the 23-year old has no place else to pitch and with a reduced schedule he could find his way in the Phillies rotation right away.
4. What about the bullpen?
This is a tough one to answer.
The Phillies have Hector Neris closing games out and that's about all we know at this point. Everything else seems to be up-for-grabs.
Veteran lefty Francisco Liriano seems likely to find a role, along with Jose Alvarez, Adam Morgan and potentially he losers in the race for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
If the Phillies choose to go with Eflin and Howard, you could see a pen that includes Velasquez, Suarez and Pivetta.
Others in the mix include right-handers Víctor Arano, Enyel De Los Santos, Édgar García, Tommy Hunter, and Blake Parker.
Remember Seranthony Domínguez was placed on the 60-day IL with a right elbow sprain.