Let’s say that by some crazy happenstance, the league and the MLBPA are able to come to an agreement and the season is saved. That saved season will begin with a July 4 bonanza where the teams will trot out of their dugouts to thunderous applause....from filtered in stadium noise.
Ok, now that that depressing part has passed, let’s get down to brass tacks. If the Phillies are going to play this year, they’re going to need someone to trot out. Going back in time, before the acrimony between the league and union began, there had been rumors of a 30 man roster being used this year to help teams try and weather potential injuries on the field, and a taxi squad of possibly 20 players ready to go in case of injury. Using my abacus, I figure that to be roughly in the neighborhood of 50 players that the team will have to deem MLB-worthy. Well - who are they going to be? That’s one of the bigger questions that has to be answered, so let’s take a crack at it.
The Obvious Eight
J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Didi Gregorius, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, Adam Haseley, Bryce Harper
These are the guys that were likely going to comprise the starting lineup, so we are pretty safe in assuming that they will be on the 50 man roster.
Roster total so far - 8
The Starting Rotation
Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez
Although Joe Girardo never said as much, it feels safe to assume that the fifth starter’s job was Velasquez’s to lose, so for the sake of argument, let’s give it to Velasquez for now, ahead of Nick Pivetta. If the season is cut to 82ish games and the Phillies need to put their best pitchers in the rotation, does this become a different discussion? We’ll get to that in a bit, so for now, these are the guys.
Roster total so far - 13
Jay Bruce, Andrew Knapp, Roman Quinn, Logan Forsythe, Neil Walker
This one was going to be settled in spring training, but with that cut short, we’re going to have to make some decisions here. Bruce was going to make the team pretty easily, as were Knapp and Quinn. Forsythe and Walker were battling Josh Harrison for two of the final bench spots, so we’re going to give them to those two guys. Harrison sticking around is entirely possible, perhaps even likely. I don’t know. This was a hard one to choose.
Roster total so far - 18
Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez, Nick Pivetta, Jose Alvarez, Deolis Guerra, Adam Morgan, Robert Stock, Tommy Hunter
This is probably the toughest call. Some of these positions are set in stone (Neris, Suarez, Alvarez), some depend on how spring training 2.0 goes (Pivetta) and the rest depend on who’s actually healthy. For now, we’ll go with this iteration, but it’s probably the one group that would use a non-roster invitee from original spring training or someone already on the 40 man roster.
Roster total - 26
So who is left to join the team? Well, let’s add four players to the roster since we’re pretty sure that it’s going to be a 30-man roster.
The Revised Core Four
Alec Bohm, Reggie McClain, Deivi Grullon, Spencer Howard
One is easy - Alec Bohm. If there is a season, it’s pretty safe to assume that Bohm will be a part of it in some capacity. It’s probably also a pretty safe assumption that he would make the initial 30-man roster. Putting him among the inital roster is easy since he’ll presumably be exposed to big league coaching, which can only be beneficial to his development. Adding a third catcher allows Girardi to deploy Realmuto or Knapp as a pinch hitter if necessary and, in the likelihood of doubleheaders being on the schedule, gives the team a bit of insurance in case an injury and/or fatigue sets in. McClain will give the team an extra arm out of the bullpen, but Howard is the highlight here.
Plenty has been written already about the possibility of Howard being inserted directly into the rotation in the case of a shortened season. With the reality that 2020 will be a spring to the finish rather than the marathon a season usually is, the team will want their best arms available in the starting rotation right away. Howard is of course one of those arms, but asking the young man to immediately step in and provide playoff quality innings, something that these games will likely have the atmosphere of, is asking an awful lot. It would be wise to put him on the regular roster as he is clearly deserving of it, but to put the pressure of being a rotation member right away might sway Girardi from making a move like this. The best possible spot would be to designate him as the doubleheader starter whenever there is one, as it would keep the other members of the rotation on regular rest, it would limit his innings while also giving him major league experience, and would drop the expectations that would be placed on him right away to a more manageable level.
Now, we have our 30-man roster. Looks pretty good, but now we have to have a 20-man taxi squad that would need to be ready at the drop of a hat. What would that squad look like? We can pretty safely assume that they’ll put David Robertson and Seranthony Dominguez on the 60-day IL to clear up two roster spots, then we can easily add the remainder of the 40-man roster to that squad, which, sans Robertson and Dominguez, would look like:
Garrett Cleavinger, Victor Arano, Enyel de los Santos, Austin Davis, Edgar Garcia, Cole Irvin, Mauricio Llovera, Adonis Medina, Jojo Romero, Christopher Sanchez, Arquimedes Gamboa, Kyle Garlick, Nick Williams
That brings our roster total between the regular roster and the remainder of the 40-man to 43, meaning we have seven spots to go. Josh Harrison finally makes the team as a versatile infielder/outfielder that gives the team a backup in case of injury. That gives us six spots to go. Running down their list, I’m going to guess that the remaining six spots get divvied out thusly:
These were all non-roster invitees that came into camp looking to win that last spot on the bench or the last spot in the bullpen. Knowing that, Girardi probably got a good look at what they can do and since they are all major league veterans, they would have already been exposed to big league pitching in their careers. It might be beneficial in a sprint to the finish that this season is shaping up to be to have players that aren’t fresh from the minor leagues.
Clearly this list is just a wild, stab in the dark guess, but still, it seems quite reasonable to me. They’d be promoting their best two prospects for major league exposure as soon as possible while giving them a deep pool of arms that will help in case of injury from having to go all out as soon as possible. Let’s discuss the possibility that this is all likely down below.