The Phillies finally announce their 26-man roster and many of you are probably wondering who Andrew Vasquez even is. I’ll answer that and talk about how the roster took shape.
Andrew Vasquez is Still Here
Going all the way back to early November, the Phillies claimed Andrew Vasquez and Luis Ortiz off waivers from the Giants to just fill out the remaining spots on the 40-man roster.
Vasquez is a low 90s sinker guy with sort of a Brad Hand-like sweeping slider to complement. He’s pitched a total of 15.1 innings in the majors across four seasons with a career ERA over 7. It’s also not like he performed amazing in camp, putting up a 4.50 ERA in 10 innings of work this spring.
So why did he make the roster? Circumstances forced the Phillies’ hand. Dave Dombrowski spent all off-season acquiring arms for depth, the aforementioned Ortiz, trading for Yunior Marté, signing Craig Kimbrel, trading for Gregory Soto, and more. The Phillies came into camp very comfortable with the depth of arms on their 40-man to where Vasquez was an easy DFA candidate.
Then injuries began to pile up, Nick Nelson went down with a strained hamstring, Cristopher Sánchez with triceps tightness, Ranger Suárez with forearm tightness, and Andrew Painter with a UCL sprain.
Vasquez is the beneficiary of the chaos the Phillies face with pitcher injuries. Since he has no minor league options and the team can’t afford to let go of pitchers, Vasquez is here to prove to everyone why he is a major league-caliber pitcher.
Cristian Pache is a Phillie
Dalton Guthrie was officially announced on the roster but is likely not going to be there very long. Yesterday the Phillies acquired Cristian Pache from the Athletics to bolster their outfield defense off the bench.
The bigger issue with this is whether Pache is even better than Guthrie. The former top prospect has not really shown any sort of potential as a hitter. In 332 plate appearances across three seasons, Pache has a career 25 OPS+.
To put into perspective how bad this is, Chris Davis’s 2018, considered by many as one of the worst seasons in MLB history, was 24% better than Pache’s career.
The young centerfielder is also out of minor league options and doesn’t provide the positional versatility Guthrie had off the bench.
Even if you look at this as just another swing the Phillies take, there were probably others that made more sense. Keston Hiura has struggled against left-handed pitching for his career but flashed serious potential as an overall hitter across four seasons with the Brewers.
With Darick Hall set to be the everyday first baseman, it would make sense to bring in someone else as a contingency plan. Edmundo Sosa has also impressed with limited action in center for someone who was just picking up the position. Maybe there is a bigger plan with Pache but it’s hard to see on the surface.
The Phillies bench looks much more promising compared to years past when the team would rely on guys like Johan Camargo to be their versatile infielder or Matt Joyce as a left-handed bat off the bench.
Speaking of Sosa, he was maybe the best player in Phillies camp, hitting .364 with four home runs and doing whatever the team asked of him. He’s at least not going to start out as an everyday player but it might be too difficult to keep his bat and glove out of the regular lineup.
He is the likely platoon partner to another spring training standout, Jake Cave. Cave hit over .400 with three bombs, earning regular at-bats against right-handed pitching.
Cave flashed a solid bat early in his career with the Twins but has struggled to find real consistency since. Over the last three seasons, Cave had a .206 average with a .614 OPS in 478 plate appearances but maybe the Phillies unlocked something after a strong camp.
With Hoskins tearing his ACL, it’s now up to Hall to become the everyday first baseman. Hall has struggled to hit left-handed pitching his entire career including going just 1 for 12 in the majors last season. However, he began to flash some ability against lefties including this single off of Tim Mayza in the final game of Spring.
(video from MLB.com)
There are some questions yet to be answered but the team looks strong and ready to defend their 2022 pennant.