Phillies Mailbag: Bullpen, the Trade Deadline and Contracts
We are back with another Phillies mailbag. Send your questions at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter. Listen to the segment on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill each and every Tuesday.
Who can the Phillies count on in their bullpen? If the starter only goes 5, who will Girardi lean on in the high-leverage spots in the middle innings?
The thin Phillies bullpen was certainly exposed this weekend. With few options, Phillies manager Joe Girardi opted to allow Ramon Rosso to make his Major League debut in a very winnable game for the Phillies. It did not go well, and Rosso was stuck pitching to a minimum of three batters, per new rules.
I think that on days where the Phillies have a lead, they'll lean heavily on Hector Neris as closer, with Tommy Hunter from the right side and then Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan from the left side. Beyond that is a little tricky right now.
With major league experience, the Phillies have Trevor Kelley, Reggie McClain and Deolis Guerra. It's hard to figure out what they can count on from them at this point. Austin Davis and Cole Irvin are there from the left side, but have not shown any real consistency in the major leagues.
Four will need to go as roster size is trimmed down in coming weeks and a fifth, should the Phillies add a certain starter.
It ultimately likely will be up to Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta to excel in bullpen roles once Spencer Howard is up and pitching for the Phillies. Will they step up and do a good job? That's anyone's guess. If they work out as relievers, the Phillies will feel a lot better.
If the season progresses as it should, what kind of team are the Phillies at the trade deadline? Buyers, sellers, staying put? Or will it just be similar to past years where they just bring in a serviceable arm (i.e. Drew Smyly)? Improving the bullpen is a must to make a run.
Unfortunately, I am not sure there will be much going on at the trade deadline. We are just about a month away from the trade deadline - August 31. I think two things will be in play: Teams will either be in the mix for one of the 16 playoff spots, or, they could be hurting for players and need to field a team.
The playoffs have expanded now to 16 teams - eight in each league. That means that teams that would otherwise be eliminated would still be in the playoff chase, and that means they would be unlikely to trade valuable pieces. Looking at last season's final standings, you'll see why.
The Texas Rangers would have been the eighth playoff team had the format of the 2020 playoffs been applied. The Rangers were 78-84, six games below the .500 mark. With a month to go in the season - just past the haflway point - would teams be able to feel "out of it?"
Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins will struggle to field a team. Will there be many "extra" players around to trade? That could depend on how well COVID-19 is contained in MLB.
There has been no update on Ranger Suarez, but I am thinking the Phillies would really like to have him back in their bullpen right about now. We will see how things go with him. I hope that he is doing well.
How much could a lost season or even just a 60-game season hurt the Phillies' chances of re-signing J.T. Realmuto and bringing back Didi Gregorius?
We have spoken much about J.T. Realmuto being an extension candidate, but almost immediately the "sign Didi" movement has begun. Didi Gregorius told a handful of media gathered after his welcoming press conference in December that he was not offered a multi-year deal in the offseason by any team. But what Phillies fans have seen from Gregorius so far is certainly encouraging.
I think that the Phillies and Gregorius will let this season play out. The one difference is that the season will not really give an extended picture of not just Gregorius, but also Alec Bohm. Bohm factors into this discussion, because should he emerge at third base, then Jean Segura could move back to shortstop.
So for Gregorius, I think there is more to see before a final determination whether or not to pursue him and that probably takes all 60 games.
As for Realmuto - I think his agent is set on maximizing every dollar he will make. Therefore, I think he will wait until the Phillies offer a top-dollar deal, or take it to free agency. I think the Phillies could get something done with Realmuto, but if they do so the deal will be pretty risky, given the uncertain economic climate. But unlike Gregorius, I think they know just who Realmuto is and it's a simple matter of dollar and cents.