Phillies Spring Notes: Latest on CF, Bullpen Battles, Injury Update on Realmuto
Hard to believe, but Phillies Opening Day is almost here.
After today, just eight Grapefruit League games remain on the schedule and some key decisions still need to be made.
You are starting to see the regulars playing more innings moving forward and having fewer days out of the lineup.
While virtually every starting spot is filled, one still remains - center field.
The competition in center field is still wide open with the decision-makers looking well beyond hit totals and strikeouts to find the eventual winner of the spot.
In these final two weeks, these players will get plenty of opportunity to earn the spot, but it likely could end up in the hands of multiple players, not just one.
Right now, with Adam Haseley hurt and unlikely to be ready for the start of the season, the team will look at four key players in this battle.
Scott Kingery, Roman Quinn, Odubel Herrera and Mickey Moniak.
You can see a scenario with Kingery and Quinn are in a battle for the right-handed at bats with Kingery, while Herrera and Moniak could battle for the left-handed at-bats with Herrera the likely winner there.
For Kingery, the Grapefruit League has been a tremendous struggle, to the point he could be optioned down to the minors if he can't find success in these next few games before the 26-man roster is set.
“It’s important for him to get some success, so he can build off of it,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi told reports via zoom about Kingery.
Kingery is hitting just .133 this spring in 11 games and 30 at bats.
As for Herrera, he seems like the favorite on the field, but as many people know has some off-field baggage.
The Phillies seemingly are giving Herrera every opportunity to win the job, he has played in 10 games, with 29 at-bats, hitting .241 with a team leading three home runs.
Is that production enough to add him to the 40-man roster and deal with the backlash that may come steaming from his suspension.
Kingery has struck out 14 times, Herrera has gone down swinging six times.
Then there is Quinn, who has consistently battled injury issues since joining the big league club. In 10 spring games he is hitting .310 with two stolen bases, striking out nine times.
Can the team trust him enough to stay healthy and play him everyday, unlikely. However his speed is difference-making. Anytime he is in the game and at the plate, he is a treat, so expect him to be in the mix in some capacity.
Finally there is Moniak, who seems to be a long-shot, but might be having the most impressive overall spring. However his playing time might tell you where the Phillies see him right now. Moniak, the former No. 1 overall pick in the draft, is hitting .300 with two homers and five strikeouts. In 20 at-bats he has a .391 on-base percentage and a 1.191 OPS in Grapefruit League play.
Much of that play though has come later in games, against pitchers who likely won't be making the trip north when the season starts, meaning Moniak likely won't be making the trip north either.
"Lets just see what happens over these next eight-or-nine days," Girardi said. Then we'll adjust our roster the way we need to."
Girardi acknowledged that Kingery can play other positions on the field, naming the infield, second, third and every short if they needed him there. If the Phillies keep Kingery, Herrera and Quinn, its likely that Kingery ends up in a more utility role with Quinn and Herrera splitting time in center field.
What happens when Haseley returns? That remains to be seen.
J.T. Realmuto inching closer
Catcher J.T. Realmuto, who was diagnosed with a fractured right thumb back in late-February, was in the original lineup on Sunday as the designated hitter, but the team ended up pulling him due to some soreness in his broken thumb.
Realmuto took part in a simulated game on Saturday in which he threw and received 7-10 at-bats.
It seems like Reamulto will make his Spring debut tomorrow instead.
Matt Moore pitched well again on Saturday, pretty much securing a spot in the Phillies rotation, going four innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk, and he struck out three.
Moore is second this spring with 12 innings pitched, sporting a 2.25 ERA and 0.83 WHIP.
It seems that Moore will be the teams No. 4 starter when the season opens.
As for the No. 5 spot, it looks like today's starter Chase Anderson has the leg up there, in seven spring innings the veteran right-hander has yet to give up an earned run and had eight strikeouts.
The Bullpen Battle
As we discussed on Thursday show with Phillies beat writer Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquire, there is a good chance the team opens the season with eight bullpen arms.
Who will they be remains to be seen.
Right now these four seem like locks: Hector Neris, Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado and Connor Brogdon.
The other four will come from a interesting group of arms that includes: Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson, Sam Coonrod, David Hale, Bryan Mitchell, JoJo Romero and Hector Rondon.
Keep in mind, Kintzler, Watson and Rondon are not on the Phillies 40-man roster at this stage, so to make the team, players would need to be removed for them to be placed on. They can opt out of their agreements with the team on Wednesday if they feel they aren't locks to make the team,
Then there is Spencer Howard and Vince Velasquez.
If neither is a part of the rotation, they could work out of the bullpen, meaning two of the names above would be bounced.
So it appears to be nine arms for four spots.
Should be an interesting final stretch of games for the Phillies.
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