Phillies Mailbag: Bench, Center Field, Bullpen
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday. Send your questions anytime on Twitter to @FrankKlose or send a text to the text board at 609-403-0973.
Your predictions who are the Phillies bench players?
Predicting the Phillies bench at the moment is going to be difficult, because the Phillies have some questions. One question that will have to be answered is how many bench players the Phillies will carry. Another question is the health of Roman Quinn and Odubel Herrera.
One bench player that will be clearly on the Phillies bench is Scott Kingery. Kingery is tabbed to be the utility infielder on the club. So far this Spring Kingery has played some shortstop, second base, and third base. While Kingery is said to be a candidate to be the third baseman, he is mostly a lock to play all three positions this season before ultimately replacing Cesar Hernandez at second base after Hernandez's contract his up next offseason.
The Phillies could once again carry 13 pitchers. If the Phillies do that, then they may not have another opportunity for a backup infielder. That makes it difficult for the Phillies to let Kingery pinch-hit, since they will need a backup infielder available. The backup infielder is often the last off the bench.
If the Phillies go with 12 pitchers, I can see Sean Rodriguez making the club as a utility player. Rodriguez can play infield and outfield positions. Rodriguez has struggled since an incident in early 2017 when his family's SUV was hit by a stolen police car being chased by the police.
I see the Phillies outfield as one difficult to figure out. It would be easier if Quinn and Herrera were healthy. Of the six outfielders - Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Aaron Altherr, Herrera, Quinn and Nick Williams, only Williams has minor league options available.
If all six were present, I would option Williams to Triple-A. It's not really the ideal situation, but the Phillies can hold on to all players this way, with Williams returning the moment there is an injury. The Phillies need the center field ability of Altherr, as well as his right-handed bench bat.
Meghan Montemurro of the Athletic noted this afternoon that Herrera is now battling the flu and Quinn is healing quickly and potentially could be ready for Opening Day.
If I were the Phillies, I would call other teams in need of an outfielder and pursue a trade. I would not push any particular outfielder, but say, "We added Harper and have a surplus...might one of our outfielders interest you?"
I think Andrew Knapp will be the backup catcher (and maybe even the backup first baseman).
What’s going to happen to Adam Morgan with all those arms in the bullpen?
I am unsure if you are asking this question because you are fond of Adam Morgan, or the opposite, but I see Morgan as one of the left-handed pitchers in the Phillies bullpen. Morgan I feel is very underrated in his bullpen role, and I would place him ahead of many left-handed pitchers that the Phillies have.
Morgan had a strikeout rate of 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings. That means each inning he pitches he was good for a strikeout. That is something very valuable for someone coming in to face a lefty after perhaps some runners have reached base.
His ERA was the lowest of his career, and his FIP (fielding independent pitching) was just .04 away, so it's a good indication of what he is. Where Morgan gets in trouble I think (just having watched him) is when the Phillies try to get a longer outing out of him. I think he is fully removed from his starting days and will do just fine in a left-handed role.
James Pazos, the recent left-handed addition, I think starts the season at Triple-A, as will Austin Davis. I think the second left-handed pitcher will be Jose Alvarez, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels this offseason.
That sets up the bullpen as follows:
- David Robertson, RHP (CL)
- Seranthony Dominguez, RHP
- Pat Neshek, RHP
- Tommy Hunter, RHP
- Juan Nicasio, RHP
- Adam Morgan, LHP
- Jose Alvarez, LHP
If the Phillies take an eighth relief arm or if Hunter starts the season on the disabled list, I would put Hector Neris in that role.
That means the Phillies will have a better bullpen at Triple-A than some major league teams. Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano do not seem to have a place on this roster to start the season.
Who would play center field if necessary out of Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper, or Nick Williams?
This is a good question, particularly with the injury questions to center fielders Quinn and Herrera. But I think that the name that the Phillies would use first and foremost would be Altherr. I think that he is a solid center field option.
If the Phillies were stuck turning to one of the other outfielders, I would probably prefer to pitch McCutchen in of the three. Harper did not grade very well in center field last season, and although McCutchen is no longer considered much of a center fielder and did not play there in 2018, I think he might be the best possible option that they have.
Williams did cover the Phillies in center a few times, but in this alignment, I would put him in left field.
If I am the Phillies I would keep an eye on Denard Span. Span remains unsigned. If the Phillies have injury questions about Herrera and Quinn and Span wants to come to camp on a minor league deal, I would consider it. But Span, too, is not the center fielder as he once was.