Our Phinal Philadelphia Phillies ICYMI Monday of the off-season will be my best guess of the 25 man roster the team will take north for the opener at the Atlanta Braves on Thursday 3/29/18. I will start with a list by position and then give a probable starting lineup.
Phillies 2018 IF:
The IF is probably the easiest to predict as the major off-season addition and deletion pretty much cemented those starting spots.
1B: The addition noted above assures that Carlos Santana will be your almost everyday starter there. They do have flexibility for Inter-league games as Rhys Hoskins can obviously play there as can a few of the bench guys they are considering.
2B: Cesar Hernandez is also an easy pick for this spot, despite the cries for Scott Kingery to be given a shot there – but have no fear phans as there is more on him below.
SS: Starting his first full MLB season here will be new Dan Baker favorite J. P. Crawford.
3B; Possibly his last chance to show his future worth to the team and to the phans, will have Maikel Franco starting the season at the hot corner. He needs to prove early and often that he has taken all the suggestions and teachings by the position coaches and make his swing changes work in “real” games.
Phillies 2015 OF:
LF: As noted above Hoskins will start in LF. He has also worked out some in RF, so could be used there in some lineup configurations.
CF: Signed to a longer term deal after the 2016 season, Odubel Herrera will take his usual spot on CF.
RF: Another player getting his first MLB season starting nod will be Nick Williams.
Phillies 2018 C:
With the announcement on Sunday that Cameron Rupp has been DFA’d it is apparent that Jorge Alfaro will be the starting C. The fact that he is out of options. made Rupp the odd man out as he was already behind Andrew Knapp. The Phils have seven days to trade, release or outright Rupp to the Milb.
Phillies 2018 Starting P:
The pitching ranks has been the part of the team most affected by injuries and late additions by the team. I will list the starters in order by which they are expected to start the season, not necessarily who is the top to bottom of the rotation:
1. It was pretty much written in stone back in late February that RHP Aaron Nola would be the starter on opening day in Atlanta. If RHP Jake Arrieta was brought on board earlier that might have changed, but he will not be ready until the 2nd time around on April 8th.
2. and 3. The next two starters could come down to matchups and how these two finish S.T. as RHP Vince Velasquez, and RHP Nick Pivetta are pretty much even in their experience and how they have performed in Florida.
4. and 5. This is another toss-up probably between RHPs Ben Lively, and Zach Eflin.
6. Only because of how late he came to camp is Arrieta, who with his announced start on Sunday afternoon 4/8, will be directly ahead of Nola’s 2nd start, so they could get flip-flopped at some point.
RHP Jerad Eickhoff is expected to come of the DL for a mild lat strain, in six – eight weeks, and this will force the team to take a fresh look at this.
Phillies 2018 BP:
The other pitching injury was to RHP Mark Leiter Jr., whose versatility would have made him available as a fill-in starter – but more likely as a long reliever. That and the DFA of Rupp opened up a spot for RHP Drew Hutchison, who has the same capabilities.
One other possibility for the pen, veteran Francisco Rodriguez, was DFA’d so that opened up a spot.
Manager Gabe Kapler has said that there will be no set roles in the pen, and will often go by match-ups and who is hot instead so I will list the remaining BP guys alphabetically.
RHP Luis Garcia, RHP Tommy Hunter, LHP Adam Morgan, RHP Hector Neris who should be the first choice as closer, RHP Pat Neshek, RHP Edubray Ramos, RHP Jake Thompson, who will start the season in the pen for the first time in his career.
Phillies 2018 Bench:
This leaves four or five spots left for the bench, which as of yesterday, became an even more interesting battle than it has been all spring.
It was announced on Sunday that Kingery and the Phillies have agreed on a 6 year contract through 2023 with club options each FA year through 2026. Sources report it guarantees him 23M. The club options are $13M, $14M, and $15M, and a $1M buyout, which could raise the payout to $66M.
With this signing the Phillies FO continues to show their creativity and commitment to moving the rebuild of this team along as the factoid below shows:
Jesmuel Valentin was optioned to AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, to make room on the Active roster, and Ricardo Pinto was DFA’d to make room on the 40 man.
This left utility SH, marked as OF Pedro Florimon, and speedy SH OF, Roman Quinn, as the last two possibilities to make the club. They conceivably could keep both depending on how many pitchers they think they need the opening weeks
As an aside for the future of the roster, this signing makes even more possible that Hernandez could be traded at some point this season. The IF will be something to watch this year as there are so many advanced players in these spots in this organization.
SH C. Knapp is assured a spot, so that probably leaves the last spot going to OF Aaron Altherr, another player like Franco who needs to prove that he has a future with this team.
Phillies 2015 Starting Lineup:
Hernandez, Santana, Herrera, Hoskins, Altherr, Franco, Alfaro, Nola and Crawford, which we have seen a few times late in ST could be the lineup on opening day. Kapler has said that he would not hesitate to start the P in the eight hole.
At this time we are down to two baseball writers here at PattisonAve.Com so our plan is for me to handle the week day games with my featuring at least one game a week during which I will live-tweet as @pattisonavenue and a recap that night and/or feature in my new weekly post tentatively titled “Phillies Phriday Phil-Ins”. Our Seamus Killeen will recap the weekend games and continue his excellent NL East wrap-up he has done for us the past few seasons.
We could use more Phillies writers so we can cover more games in depth so if you are interested, contact me on twitter @brett5355 or on facebook, and we can add you to our roster.
Until then Lets Go Phillies!