This was supposed to be the year when getting to the playoffs was easy. Given that there was only 60 games to play and eight teams per league were supposed to gain access to the final tournament, the Phillies, by virtue of a top heavy roster and some solid bounceback candidates, were supposed to be one of them.
It seems like the baseball gods are conspiring to make sure that the team doesn’t make it at all. First, they were given pitchers that in turn have given perhaps the worst bullpen performance ever in the history of the game. Now, it seems like the injuries are piling up to the point of insanity. Sure teams can overcome injuries to some players, but how many can overcome injuries to some of their best players. With the injuries to J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins (who went on the IL yesterday), the team is losing some of their best hitters. It’s being forced to sign players like this.
Today was the deadline to add players to make them postseason eligible. With Kyle Garlick injury, Phillies have very, very few position players as reserves. So, some insurance.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) September 16, 2020
First of all, when did Kyle Garlick get injured? Was that the reason Adam Haseley was inserted as a pinch hitter so early in the game against the Mets? Now, the team is going to be forced to play Andrew McCutchen in the field far more than it woud have liked this late into the season. It also means that the depth of the team is being tested to a point they probably never envisioned.
You’d think, of course, that with a 60-man roster made available to them prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 shortened year that they would have stockpiled the back end with playable depth in case of injury and/or COVID-related absences. Instead, they’re fighting with other teams to try and get that depth in time. If Haseley or Roman Quinn goes down, we’re staring down the barrel of a Mickey Moniak debut.
In many ways, these injuries and the roster scramble they are causing are yet another referendum on the roster construction by the front office. Instead of populating their 60-man choices with depth that can be ready in an instant, they chose to stock it with players that probably weren’t ready for the major leagues if called upon. Now, in reaction to that, they are being forced to bring up players like a catcher who has never played an inning above single-A. Of course, in a specific case like that, with a catcher as durable as Realmuto on the roster, it’s tough to assume that he would get injured. Even then, in the nature of the pandemic, not planning that someone on the roster would miss significant time for illness-related issues is incredibly shortsighted. The Marlins saw this problem hit home weeks ago when their team
weren’t responsible enough to obey quarantine rules was hit with an outbreak, they needed to grab as many players as possible to fill out a roster. They were able to identify players that would keep them afloat long enough to remain in the playoff race and now that their better players are returning, they are in that position today.
There is the argument to be made that the available options to them at the time that would have counted as “depth” were simply not that good, but when the team needed several weeks to figure out that Neil Walker was just not good anymore while simultaneously releasing Josh Harrison (.280/.345/.500 in 54 PA with Washington), it makes you wonder yet again about the talent evaluation skills of those in charge of making those decisions.
The team remains confident in their ability to make the postseason and they are likely right. There are too many good players still on the roster as well as two pitchers that give them a better than average chance of winning each night. But if they don’t win, there will be a lot of questions to be answered about how well this team was prepared to compensate for what has happened to them this year.