Phillies Mailbag: Playoff Roster, Bullpen, a Hoskins Return?
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag. We take your questions each week and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill.
Who is not on the playoff roster?
Rosters expanded to 28 from 26 once the roster hit September. The Phillies filled them by activating two from the injured list: Ranger Suárez and Cristian Pache. But when they get to the playoffs, two will need to be subtracted in order to make the postseason roster.
I think one is pretty obvious. That would be infielder Rodolfo Castro. Castro started at second base against the Mets on Saturday. Before that he had not played since September 5. With 18 games in between, it's pretty clear that manager Rob Thomson has little confidence in Castro.
He filled in so that Bryson Stott could have a needed day off. But Stott will not need a day off in the playoffs, and Edmundo Sosa is a capable backup if (hopefully not) the Phillies need a sub. If there is an injury beyond that, the Phillies could add someone in between games.
The other subtraction for me would be from the pitching department. They could keep a pitcher in uniform but not on the roster if need be. Remember, in the playoffs you would line up the top half of the roster against the top half of someone else's roster.
The role that Dylan Covey fills may not be necessary. There will be extra starting pitching around if the Phillies need a long man. One of Cristopher Sanchez or Taijuan Walker will not start a playoff game, most likely. Who ever does not could eat innings.
The Phillies are also seeing what Michael Lorenzen can do the final days of the season. He got the save on Sunday against the Mets, which was encouraging. And newcomer Orion Kerkering looked really good. I think down the stretch the Phillies will be looking to see if either are helpful down the stretch.
The Phillies have a one-run lead in Game 1 after 6. Who pitches 7. 8, 9?
The bullpen has been a little less than certain of late. So I think that the Phillies must go with the most reliable arms that they have. The three I would say are the most reliable are Matt Strahm, Jeff Hoffman, Craig Kimbrel, and Jose Alvarado.
Hoffman was a nice surprise; the Phillies claimed him at the end of Spring Training from the Minnesota Twins. I think he would be a good candidate for the seventh inning, paired with Strahm to focus on the best possible matchups.
Then in the eight and ninth I would pitch Alvarado and Kimbrel with the same idea: Alvarado faces the tough lefties either in the eighth or ninth depending on who is coming up, and Kimbrel the righties.
As we saw with the Mets on Friday, Kimbrel did allow a run. And he had a rough August.
Overall, Kimbrel has a 1.00 ERA in September. I think he is still one of the two best options in the bullpen, with the revitalized Alvarado.
I would, however, shy away from Seranthony Dominguez. While he has his velocity, he does not have command of his pitches. Therefore, I would stay away from Dominguez unless the Phillies were trailing by a crooked number and the Phillies want to preserve the arms for later.
Since Rhys Hoskins is coming off the IL would that mean that Orion Kerkering couldn't stay on the postseason roster. Who do you pick, Hoskins or Kerkering?~@MintFresh76
Well, I hate to tell you, but I do not believe that Rhys Hoskins will be coming off of the IL. We all know that Kyle Schwarber was able to make a playoff appearance after a long season on the IL with a torn ACL, which gave some hope. But I do not see this happening with the Phillies and Hoskins.
Schwarber is part of the reason.
For one, I do not see Hoskins able to do anything but bat, should he be cleared for baseball activities. The Phillies need Schwarber to be in the designated hitter spot. Schwarber has -24 defensive runs saved, the lowest in all of baseball. His replacement on defense, Johan Rojas, has +14 defensive runs saved in his short major league tenure.
The Phillies cannot possibly give up the defense that Rojas brings. To make that happen, Schwarber must be the designated hitter and Bryce Harper the first baseman.
Would they add Hoskins to be a pinch-hitter? I'm not sure that will work, either. Even if cleared to play, Hoskins will not have had the opportunity for any live hitting. Triple-A Lehigh Valley concluded play over the weekend.
So I would be skeptical that Hoskins could help the Phillies.
And with Hoskins on the 60-day Injured List, that opens a spot for someone else who was in the Phillies system prior to September 1.
Orion Kerkering might be helpful to the Phillies this postseason. I previously laid out who I would prioritize in the bullpen. But Kerkering could be brought in for a key strikeout if someone gets into some trouble.
We have seen just one game so far, but Kerkering is in Philadelphia and with the team. He's there to be used. If he shows that same electric stuff - our friends @DrunkPhilsFans noted that Kerkering's slider breaks three times further than the league average slider - he could come in handy in the playoffs.
So I tend to see Kerkering staying around, and sadly, I think that's it for Rhys Hoskins.