As spring training nears, teams have a pretty good sense of where their rosters stand. It’s probably that all teams in the majors have at least 22 players they know will be on their team once the curtain goes up on the 2023 season. There will be camp battle, for sure, but in cases like the Phillies, many of those battles have already been fought.
For the first time in many moons, the Phillies look like they have a set roster. One of the only jobs left for players to try and grab was seemingly spoken for once Josh Harrison was given a guaranteed major league deal. The salary was small enough that he could well be released if his spring isn’t up to snuff, but for the most part, the offense looks to be set nearly in stone.
That doesn’t mean that everything is guaranteed. Some of the players that we think are going to be with the Phillies in Arlington may not be as locked in as we believe. A bad showing in spring, coupled with standout performances from someone else on the roster, could make that player’s bench or bullpen job a little more tenuous that we perceived. With all that in mind, we’re going to look at, as spring trudges along, the stock of some players that are looking to break camp with the team. We’ll start with one of the more high profile “battles” about to start next week.
Their shiny veneer is always going to be a draw for those people insatiable for the future. No matter how much we resist, the pull of having that top prospect, that player who holds so much promise and potential will always be the one we want to see.
For prospects like Andrew Painter, a pitcher some consider to be the best pitching prospect in the game, that means people wanting to get him into the big league rotation as soon as possible. Forget about the history of 20 year olds in the majors. Forget about innings limits and arm-ruining decisions. This is about putting the best five starting pitchers in a rotation, their experience level be damned. Flags fly forever and if we have to put a pitcher’s future health in peril to gain a few wins now, that’s a decision to be made each time.
That’s what you might have heard in the past. We are a more enlightened generation, knowing that while innings limits are important, it’s the data that goes into those innings that should drive decision making. If Painter is approaching 130, 135 innings, but everything has stayed the same with him, why pump the brakes? Sure, there is a point where recklessness should not trump wins, but teams have advanced to the point where they can know when to pull the reigns on a pitcher as young as Painter and when to let him pitch. That’s trust we’ll just have to give them for now.
When Matt Vierling was traded to acquire Gregory Soto, there came an opening as the backup center fielder on the roster. For Guthrie, that job looked to be his, especially since the team thought highly enough of him to include him on their World Series roster even though he had only 28 plate appearances for the Phillies during last season.
From everything that has been said, Guthrie will get every chance to prove his ability to play most every position is something that the team should be using. They look like their comfortable with his hitting ability, so he’ll likely be given a long leash during spring training to show what he can do. If he faceplants, there are other options for the team to consider. It looks like it’ll take quite the fall for that to happen.
Poor Bailey Falter.
When Zack Wheeler went down to injury for about a month, someone needed to step into the role to help support what Aaron Nola and Ranger Suarez were doing in the rotation. The team looked like they were trying to get Painter and Mick Abel rushed to the majors to help out, but there still needed to be innings thrown while Wheeler was on the shelf, innings that were most important as the team was still in the middle of a playoff chase.
While he wasn’t dominant, he did have six starts from late August to mid September where he threw 34 1⁄3 innings of 2.36 ERA baseball, striking out 25 batter, walking only four and limiting hitters to a .582 OPS. He struggled down the stretch in his final three starts, but his solid pitching during that month stretch was crucial to the team making the postseason. He looked like he was going to turn that into a regular rotation spot (and still might!), but now he’s fallen back a bit behind Painter in terms of who has the lead to grab that final rotation place on Opening Day. Regardless of what happens then, there is little doubt Falter will throw significant innings for the team this year, but if we’re looking at it in terms of who makes the initial roster, it looks like Falter might be sixth in line for a five man rotation.
Admit it. When Vierling was traded, a bit of you thought that maybe the redemption tour was going to begin. When the team started talking about him out loud, it made it a little more real that “Scott Kingery: Revenge Tour” was beginning to have dates and venues booked. After all, there were some roster spots open, he can play center field, the team is already paying him significant money.....
Then Josh Harrison happened.
No one is going to think that Harrison is going to man center field. That was probably Kingery’s best argument for having a place in the Opening Day roster. But once Harrison put ink to paper, the chances of Kingery breaking camp with the team pretty much evaporated. Again, as with Falter there may be a chance that someone gets hurt,