Early Projections for Philadelphia Phillies' Final 25-Man Roster
The Philadelphia Phillies have five days left before their first official spring training game, and the first opportunity for players to begin winning or losing roster spots for the upcoming season.
The Phillies still have far more questions than answers at this point as to which players will start, claim final roster spots and remain healthy throughout the season.
Soon, however, players will have a chance to see whether an offseason’s worth of preparation was enough to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.
The starting rotation and infield has already been locked in, and four out of a likely seven bullpen spots have been claimed. As for the outfield, the question marks now surround which players will start, rather than which players will make the initial roster.
In total, six position players have starting jobs already nailed down, joining five starting pitchers and four relievers with guaranteed jobs. Additionally, John Mayberry, Jr. and Kevin Frandsen may not be in the starting lineup, but both are out of minor league options, meaning that the Phils would have to risk either player being claimed on waivers if they were to option them to the minor leagues.
That leaves primarily the bullpen, bench and possibly an additional outfield spot up for grabs as games get underway in less than a week.
The Phillies will soon have to monitor the health and progression of players in camp, as well as the performances of certain players in the World Baseball Classic, in order to put their Opening Day roster together.
Before Grapefruit League games begin, however, here are the early projections for the final 25-man roster that the Phillies will take to Atlanta to begin the 2013 season.
Starting Rotation (5)
Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan
The only questions surrounding the Phillies’ starting staff involve which player will pitch on Opening Day, and which order Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee will appear in at the front of the rotation.
The Phillies will start 2013 with 40 percent of the rotation differing from the 2012 Opening Day rotation. However, despite the changes, the rotation has essentially been set in place since John Lannan’s signing on December 18.
Lannan will occupy the No. 5 spot in the rotation, after going 4-1 with 17 strikeouts and a 4.13 ERA in limited late season action for the Washington Nationals last season. Lannan will be preceded by Kyle Kendrick, who rebounded from a 6.96 ERA in June to finish 11-12 with a career high 116 strikeouts and a 3.90 ERA.
Both Kendrick and Lannan will have minor league talent trying to prove themselves while waiting for either pitcher to lose their grip on a rotation spot. But both pitchers also have the potential to give the Phillies a solid back end to the rotation.
As for the front end, a healthy Halladay could give the Phils a chance to again feature one of the league’s best starting rotations.
Halladay battled injuries to go 11-8 with 132 strikeouts and a 4.49 ERA last season. His strikeout total was his lowest since 2006, while his ERA was the highest of his career in a season in which he started at least 20 games.
Hamels, the potential Opening Day starter, went 17-6 with 216 strikeouts and a 3.05 ERA, while Lee went 6-9 with 207 strikeouts and a 3.16 ERA.
If the Phillies' top three starters can remain healthy, the starting rotation has a chance to once again be one of the league’s best and make up for any early-season offensive struggles that may occur.
Names to watch: None
Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Chad Durbin, Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst, Michael Stutes, Jake Diekman
This is the toughest area of the final 25-man roster to project, with the final three bullpen spots in particular likely to change week by week.
The Phillies’ Opening Day bullpen will depend on which pitchers step up during spring training, and/or how many left-handers the team decides to carry.
As it stands now, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Chad Durbin and Antonio Bastardo can be considered locks for starting the season in the bullpen. Of these relievers, only Bastardo is left-handed.
With likely three spots left, the Phillies will have to decide if five right-handers and two left-handers is best, or if it should be four and three, respectively.
In 2012 and 2011, the Phillies began the season with two left-handers in the Opening Day bullpen. Last year, it was Bastardo and Joe Savery who began the season, with Bastardo and J.C. Romero getting the nods in 2011.
This season, pitching coach Rich Dubee has said that he would prefer having balance between right- and left-handers in the bullpen, as Todd Zolecki wrote on the Phillies’ website.
Out of the remaining options, two pitchers have good news surrounding them early in camp.
Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com wrote that the feeling, as of now, is that Jeremy Horst is the leader for a second left-handed spot, after posting a 1.15 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 31.1 innings last season.
Meanwhile, in an article by David Murphy on Philly.com, right-hander Michael Stutes is quoted as saying that his shoulder feels brand new after missing most of last season due to injury. That’s good news for a pitcher who went 6-2 with a 3.63 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 62 innings in 2011.
As for the last spot, that’s anyone’s guess as of now. However, following Dubee’s preference to have a balanced bullpen, left-hander Jake Diekman could be the early favorite for the final spot.
Diekman had a 3.95 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 27.1 innings last season, but will have to outperform several others, most notably Phillippe Aumont, to grab and hold onto the final bullpen spot.
These are early projections, with lots of potential movement between now and Opening Day. The Phillies could still decide to go with five right-handers and two left-handers, especially if Aumont continues to pitch well both in camp and during the World Baseball Classic.
This is an area to watch closely as camp continues.
Names to watch: Phillippe Aumont (RHP), Justin De Fratus (RHP), Raul Valdes (LHP)
Erik Kratz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Humberto Quintero, Kevin Frandsen, Freddy Galvis
The Phillies’ infield should be set in place, barring injury, to start the season with the exception of the final reserve spot.
For the first time since 2010, the Phillies are set (knock on wood) to begin the season with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins in the Opening Day lineup.
Joining them will be catcher Erik Kratz, who will take over for Carlos Ruiz while he serves a 25-game suspension to start the season. Kratz batted .248 with nine home runs and 26 RBI last season, but batted a combined .344 between July and August.
Michael Young, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers during the offseason, will start at third base as he transitions back into being an everyday infielder. Young batted .277 with eight home runs and 67 RBI last season, after batting .338 in 2011.
Three more infielders are currently set to fill bench roles for the Phillies.
Matt Gelb on Philly.com wrote that Humberto Quintero will likely back up Kratz at catcher for the first 25 games, after having a .347 caught stealing percentage in 43 games for the Kansas City Royals last season. Quintero also batted .333 in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Kevin Frandsen is also set to take a bench role after batting .338 in 55 games following his call-up last season. Frandsen is also out of minor league options, meaning that the Phillies must risk another team claiming him on waivers if they try to option him to the minor leagues.
As for the other reserve infield spot, Freddy Galvis appears to have the early lead.
Manager Charlie Manuel is quoted in an article by Todd Zolecki on the Phillies’ website as saying that 300 at-bats for Galvis in the majors versus 500 at-bats in the minor leagues will help the Phillies more.
The Phillies could decide that having Galvis start everyday in Triple-A is the better option but, as of now, he joins Frandsen and Quintero, as well as John Mayberry, Jr., Laynce Nix and Darin Ruf, as players on the final 25-man roster capable of serving as backup infielders.
Name to watch: Yuniesky Betancourt
Ben Revere, John Mayberry, Jr., Laynce Nix, Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf
The Phillies went from having six contenders for five spots to now having their outfield spots essentially decided.
It’s determining who starts that’s the hard part.
With news from Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com that Delmon Young is likely not going to be ready for the start of the season, and could possibly miss the month of April, the Phillies are left with five outfielders and one Rule 5 draft pick with an outside chance of making the roster.
Ben Revere, acquired from the Minnesota Twins during the offseason, is the only outfielder with a starting job nailed down. Revere batted .294 with 40 stolen bases last season while playing above-average defense, and will take over center field for the Phillies.
As for which players will be standing on either side of Revere, that’s still a mystery.
However, due to Young’s injury, what’s more certain is which outfielders are projected to make the final 25-man roster. These players include John Mayberry, Jr., Laynce Nix, Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf.
Mayberry is out of minor league options, which means that he will have to pass through waivers first if optioned to the minor leagues. However, he can still become a solid No. 4 or 5 outfielder and is the only option for backing up Revere in center field.
Nix is entering the final year of his contract and gives the Phillies a left-handed offensive option off the bench, unless he is moved to clear a roster spot for Young later in the season.
The two most interesting players to watch, however, are Ruf and Brown, as both are looking to win starting outfield jobs and to remain on the roster even after Young’s return.
Ruf hit three home runs in 12 games following a late-season call-up, and batted .317 with 38 home runs and 104 RBI in Double-A. Brown, meanwhile, is running out chances to become an everyday starter.
With Young out, both Ruf and Brown should have plenty of opportunities to win a starting job, but both should also have spots on the final 25-man roster locked down.
Ender Inciarte will be an interesting player to watch once games begin, but the Rule 5 selection will have his work cut out for him to make the final roster.
Name to watch: Ender Inciarte