Phillies Mailbag: Miller’s Injury, Starting Rotation, Fans in Stands
We are back with another edition of the Phillies mailbag. Submit your question at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter. Then, come back and listen to your question on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill on Tuesday afternoons.
What will Brad Miller's injury mean for the Phillies roster?
New/old Phillie Brad Miller took ground balls at third base in the pre-game workout on Saturday. It was to be his first start at third base, now that Rhys Hoskins returned to first base. After being in the lineup, it was Ronald Torreyes who ultimately trotted out to third base at the top of the first inning. It turns out, Miller would have a minor oblique issue.
Miller had an MRI and awaits results. But he told reporters, including the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Breen that he won't rule out Opening Day.
An oblique injury is tricky. The only real remedy is rest. And if someone returns too quickly from that injury, they risk further injury.
So it's in the Phillies' best interests to make sure that Miller is healthy. He will be a key bench piece, both from an offensive standpoint and from his versatility in the field.
Should Miller not be ready Opening Day, the Phillies have Nick Maton and C.J. Chatham on the roster who could back up in the infield at different positions.
Who would be in the Phillies starting rotation?
I think this one has come together, thanks to strong performances and a nagging injury. Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin are locks. But I think the remaining two are becoming clear: Matt Moore and Chase Anderson.
First and foremost, Moore and Anderson have earned it. Both pitchers have looked good, and they seem to be already slotted to fall in the rotation behind Eflin. After Eflin pitched on Saturday, Moore started Sunday and Anderson went Monday. Nola takes the mound Monday.
Moore has allowed just one run in his eight innings over three appearances. Anderson has yet to allow a run. But both pitchers have had a mound presence like they belong. I think that do belong and will be in the starting rotation.
So what does that mean for Vince Velasquez and Spencer Howard?
Velasquez seems like an after thought. Velasquez has made just two appearances so far this Spring. It's likely he will pitch as soon as today, but he will not be making a start. It could be time for the Phillies to put Velasquez into the bullpen. Or, if they can, trade him to a team like his former Houston Astros, that is really struggling for pitching.
Howard, unfortunately, missed Monday's game against New York Yankees due to back spasms.
The Phillies will be particularly cautious with Howard, who remains a very promising arm. And that caution probably means he will not start the season in the starting rotation. Whether that means he will begin as a bullpen arm or assigned to Triple-A/the Allentown Alternate Site to get him going remains to be seen.
At least for the Phillies, they seem to have five starters ready to pitch.
Will the Phillies increase fans in the stands at Citizen's Bank Park after Governor Wolf's latest announcement?
The Phillies are planning for about 8,800 fans for the first 16 games. But there exists the potential that this changes some, as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that some restriction would lift beginning April 4. This of course is after the April 1 opener, but could be soon thereafter.
The order says that outdoor events can be at 50%, among other restrictions lifted, provided the appropriate distancing takes place.
However, don't expect half of the 43,035 capacity to be right at Phillies games.
Should the Phillies not skip a row between "pods" of people, they won't necessarily have six feet of space. That will have to happen to the left and to the right as well. So that number may not hit the 50% mark of capacity, even though that's the percentage.
Once the Phillies space things out and figure out their newest capacity, they will also need the City of Philadelphia to also go along with these limits. Whatever the City of Philadelphia says can best the State of Pennsylvania mandates. The previous round of limits the City matched the State; we will see how that plays out.
But it's looking better for those eager to see some baseball games.
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