Phillies Mailbag: Season Ahead, Dominguez, Fifth Starter
We are back with another edition of the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday during the Phillies season. Send your questions anytime on Twitter to @FrankKlose or send a text to the text board at 609-403-0973.
What's your take: Over or under: 75 games played this season?
Well, the MLB season we know is likely delayed about two months. We are looking at maybe 60 games minimum being lost for the MLB season this year.
What is the latest on Seranthony Dominguez?
The last we heard when the Phillies were assembled in Clearwater, Florida, was that Seranthony Dominguez had a setback. However, given the lack of communication at the moment or access to the Phillies, we have not heard anything just yet. However, it does not sound good.
Dominguez fired two scoreless innings in Grapefruit League action, which was very encouraging. However, a day after the second outing we learned things were not going so well. Dominguez expressed concern for his career to reporters at the time.
We do know that elbow injuries similar to the sprain Dominguez had last season often lead to "Tommy John" surgery. There have been some pitchers who were able to get around the surgery through other methods. The Phillies may have given that a try first, but it might not mean that Dominguez has totally dodged the surgery.
Such a surgery would mean that Dominguez would surely miss the entire 2020 season. Matt Gelb of the Athletic says that the Phillies are "bracing" for such news. Of course, they hope that will not be the case. It very well could be that they know the answer, but we have not heard it yet simply because everything is shut down.
Now that it appears Spring Training is over, who would you name the fifth starter if you're the Phillies?
When Jake Arrieta took the mound on Thursday, it turned out that it would be the final start of the Spring for anyone. The Phillies equipment truck already headed back north with many of their supplies, so there will not be another opportunity to see any of the three candidates for the fifth starter job: Ranger Suarez, Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez.
My pick is the same as when camp broke: Ranger Suarez.
To me, Velasquez eliminated himself with his performance on Sunday of last week. The coaches were even openly speaking of his inability to be efficient. If they are speaking openly, they are certainly keenly aware.
Similarly, Pivetta did not impress in his last opportunity. As was often the case, Pivetta seemed affected by other occurrences on the field: a small error often led to further damage. Can Pivetta ever settle down?
Unfortunately, we did not see enough of Velasquez in the bullpen last year to see if he could handle it long-term. But with Adam Morgan, Jose Alvarez, and Francisco Lirano as left-handed relievers in the bullpen, I would be most comfortable with Suarez in the rotation as the lone lefty and Velasquez in the bullpen.
I am not convinced Pivetta should be in the bullpen either, but maybe a potential injury to Dominguez could lead to an open space. Pivetta has the tools to succeed there; the question will be whether he could be locked in and focused and use that to his advantage. At least in the bullpen, three batters in the Phillies could quickly replace him.