It’s a magical time of year. On September 1, it’s the time when teams are allowed to expand their rosters, but unlike the days of yore, they cannot do it with reckless abandon. They can only expand the rosters by two, meaning they’ll go from 26 players to 28 players. It’s not a huge expansion, but it’s helpful to those teams in the playoff chase since it can bring a fresh arm or a fresh glove/bat to help reinforce the club.
The Phillies will have some decisions to make when the clock tolls midnight on Wednesday. Some of the decisions have already been made for them (thanks, COVID), but once those players are allowed back on the roster, some room will need to be made. Here is how the roster looks right now:
Current Phillies roster
|de los Santos||Jankowski|
If you aren’t really desiring to count, that’s 14 pitchers and 12 position players. It’s been a dangerous game to play, but that has at least given us a hint as to what the team wants to do in September.
So, what choices does the team have? Here are some questions that need to be answered to prepare for the stretch run:
- Are they going to continue with 14 pitchers and even it up with 14 position players?
- What happens when injured players come back?
- Do they roster three catchers or two?
Let’s get to these one by one.
How many pitchers will they have?
This one might be the question one which all of the roster decision hinge. Right now, Joe Girardi has 14 pitchers at his disposal. The three batter minimum rule has kind of negated the ability to do as many matchups as the teams in the past did when they would routinely bring in a pitcher to face one batter, then depart (I still have visions of Ryan Howard vs. Javier Lopez), but in this season of venturing into uncharted waters with players being stretched beyond what they did last year, everything is on the table.
It’s likely that Girardi will want to have as many pitchers at his beck and call since he loves to have the matchup advantage as much as possible. While he’ll continue to use a five man rotation, that would mean he would have nine relievers to use if he needed it. That sounds like something that would cause him to perk up his ears. This is probably what the team will want to do. However, they have some injuries to pitchers that will require some roster moves, which leads to our next question.
How do you maneuver around all the players returning from injury?
These are the players currently on the injured list for the Phillies that have a realistic shot at being rostered by the team. Andrew Knapp is on that list, but we’ll get to him in a second. For now, what will the team do about these guys?
Well, the bottom two names on the above roster have to be JD Hammer and Enyel de los Santos. While Girardi might value the ability of de los Santos to throw seemingly every day, at some point, Velasquez is coming back. His rehab assignment started on August 17, which meant the countdown to his return began then. He can stay on a rehab assignment for thirty days, so it’s possible the team leaves him there until it is absolutely necessary to bring him back simply so they can delay the decision as long as possible. Eflin had been activated when he tested positive for COVID, so whenever he is ready, he’ll need a spot on the roster. Matt Joyce began his rehab assignment on August 24, but since he’s a position player, he’ll need to be activated twenty days after that date, which means his date is coming soon (September 13). Luke Williams might come back, but he’s also the obvious choice to be sent down to the minors for someone different.
The big one is Dominguez. He’s a little different in that he has been on the 60-day IL, so not only will he need to be activated, he’ll need someone to be removed from the 40-man roster to give him a spot. The likeliest move is the put Rhys Hoskins on the 60-day IL to open up the spot to give to Seranthony. But adding him to the active roster will again require someone to be sent down. According to reports, he’s been throwing in the mid-90’s while on his rehab assignment, but the numbers suggest (9 IP, 15 R, 4 HR, 6 BB, 11 K) he might not exactly be the answer in the bullpen we all thought he might be.
Do they go with three catchers or two?
Having three catchers might be a luxury for some teams, but for the Phillies, it might be a necessity. We’ve seen how banged up J.T. Realmuto has been and the hole at first base created by an injured Rhys Hoskins means there might be more playing time there in his future to keep his bat in the lineup. That might necessitate a need to carry all three of Reamuto, Knapp and Marchan.
Of course, it we’re talking about first base, we have to ask the obvious question: whither Alec Bohm? How does this quote from Dave Dombrowski sound to you?
“We want him to work on some things,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday afternoon at Nationals Park. “He’s swinging OK. Just like here, he was swinging OK. But we want him to continue to work on his swing. That’s really what it comes down to. Power, swing, the whole bit of it. Driving the ball. We’ve got things that we’re working on with his swing that we’ve outlined to him. We want him to work on those things, and it’s better if he does that on a day in and day out basis.”
Does that sound like someone who is in the team’s September plans? The team looks like it’ll be more likely to carry the three catchers than to bring up Bohm. That could change with injuries of course, but it’s doubtful that Bohm will be coming back any time soon.
Here is the guess as to what the roster will look like soon.
September 1 roster prediction
|de los Santos||Jankowski|
Things will change along the way, of course, since rehab assignments will end and players will come up, but the guess here is that Velasquez and Marchan will come up/stay and the team will go with 15 pitchers and 13 position players (with three catchers). Realmuto’s myriad of injuries will necessitate the need for the team to make sure they have someone on hand to handle any that might happen in-game. Plus, that will allow Realmuto to play more first base in a semi-platoon with Brad Miller.
We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.