This afternoon the Phillies finalized their 25-man roster to start the 2015 season. With the signing of former Blue Jay Dustin McGowan on Saturday, the Phillies filled out their remaining bullpen spot. Not needing a 5th starter until April 12, the team enters the season with of eight relievers and just four starters. Their pitching staff is littered with castoffs, one lone ace and a group of pitchers that might not even find their way onto most team’s AAA rosters let alone their Major League. Righties Aaron Harang and Jerome Williams both bring many years of experience, but are well beyond their prime, neither pitching all that well this spring. Williams, in fact, led the team this spring in giving up the most runs (17) in just over 20 innings of work.
The surprise of the spring may have been righty Jeanmar Gomez. Gomez, the 27-year-old former Pirate, pitched to a 0.71 ERA this spring in 10 appearances. He gave up only 1 earned run while striking out 9. While likely originally destined for AAA prior to the start of spring training, Gomez earned his spot on the team after being the best arm out of the pen. Time will only tell if that early success carries over to the regular season where through five seasons, Gomez has a career 4.41 ERA. To his credit, however, most of his struggles came early in his career when he was used primarily as a starter, but has found great success the last two as a reliever with ERA’s south of 3.40.
The entire pitching staff includes:
Starters: Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, David Buchanan, Jerome Williams
Bullpen: Jonathan Papelbon, Ken Giles, Justin De Fratus, Dustin McGowan, Jeanmar Gomez, Jake Diekman, Luis Garcia, Cesar Jimenez
There’s really no way to dance around it, the Phillies offense was not good this spring. Most of the time spring stats are an afterthought. They don’t matter. Spring struggles don’t always translate to the regular season. Players are working on different parts of their game and any mishaps are excused as such. But when your team OPS (On-Base + Slugging) is nearly 40 points lower than the next worst team, there is cause for concern. The Phillies not surprisingly carried the worst OPS in the league this spring at .641, with the Cardinals being the next worst at .679. Note that only five teams were even under .700 OPS. Not to mention that the team had the 26th most runs scored (125), the worst batting average (.234), and were tied for 19th in HR (26).
The two real “bright spots” this spring were mainstay Chase Utley and Rule V pickup Odubel Herrera. Utley played in only 13 games this spring, but in 34 AB’s carried a .412 batting average with 4 HR’s, leading the team in both categories. Herrera, named the team’s starting centerfielder, lead the team with 24 hits this spring including 2 long balls. His 7 SB’s also lead the team, proving that the top of the lineup should have lots of speed pairing him with now starting leftfielder Ben Revere.
The offense shapes up as such:
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz, Cameron Rupp
Infield: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Freddy Galvis, Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, Cesar Hernandez, Andres Blanco
Outfield: Ben Revere, Odubel Herrera, Grady Sizemore, Jeff Francoeur
Now for my prediction. It’s not going to be pretty this year folks. Vegas odds have the Phillies at about 200-1 odds to win the 2015 World Series. That may be generous. It’s a longshot that players like Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon actually finish the season on this roster and one can hope that Ryan Howard can put it together just long enough to boost his trade value so that he can be moved by the end of May, even if that means covering most of his salary. Funny right? Ryan Howard able to be traded? One can dream, right?
Now we all know it’s going to be a long season, but will this team lose 100 games this year? While it’s certainly possible, I’m going to bet against that happening…barely. I think that they may enter August south of 50 wins, but with a late season push to see some of the young talent in action, they avoid going over the century mark in losses.
Prediction: 66 Wins, 96 Losses – 2nd worst record in baseball