Who Will Return to the Phillies Bullpen in 2021?

All the Phillies had to do to make the 2020 Postseason was to win 1 of their final 3 games. They were unable to do so. Now, where does the team go from here? General Manager Matt Klentak has already stepped down from his position, and a new GM will be tasked with bringing in quality arms to improve the relief core, amongst a slew of other jobs.

There are several holes in the bullpen, and the organization is currently lacking the depth needed to fill them. With that being said, there are a few names from last season that should still be in the fold for next year, and a few that may be better off parting ways with. Let’s dive in:

Jose Alvarez:
Acquired before the 2019 season, Alvarez proved to be a steady addition to the bullpen during his 2 years with the team. Set to enter free agency this winter, the lefty is someone I would strongly consider resigning.

Connor Brogdon:
Brogdon made his Phillies debut this summer, appearing in just 9 games and striking out 17 batters. It was a small sample size for the 2017 10th round selection, but he pitched well enough to at least be considered for a spot next season.

David Hale:
Hale was acquired in a mid-season trade from the Yankees and proved to be a solid addition to Joe Girardi’s pitching staff. He pitched in a variety of roles, from opener to bulk guy. There is a chance he could return in a long relief role, or as a depth piece.

Heath Hembree:
Hembree, who was acquired in a mid-season trade with Boston, struggled mightily during his time in Philadelphia. The veteran, who is entering his last year of arbitration, will most likely pitch elsewhere in 2021.

Tommy Hunter:
Despite a positive Covid-19 diagnosis, and coming to camp as a late arrival, Hunter proved to be one of the team’s most reliable bullpen arms this past season. Set to enter free agency this winter, Hunter is someone the Phillies should at least entertain the idea of resigning.

Adam Morgan:
Although Morgan had a rough year for his standards, the southpaw is still under team control via arbitration for one more season. He debuted with the team way back in 2015 and has become somewhat of a mainstay in the bullpen ever since. At this point I would say there is a 50/50 chance of him returning, but my gut feeling is that he will be back.

Héctor Neris:
Neris entered the season in his familiar role as the team’s closing pitcher. However, early-season struggles and the acquisition of Brandon Workman forced him out of that spot. His performance did not proceed to get much better following the move. Regardless, he will return to the Phillies bullpen in some capacity next year.

Phillies: Hector Neris could soon return from COVID-19 IL

Blake Parker:
The Phillies signed the Arkansas native to a minor league deal in Spring Training and it worked out beautifully. Parker, now 35 years old, is getting up there in age, but as long as he continues to keep pitching I would not mind bringing him back on board for next year.

David Phelps:
Phelps was essentially 2 different pitchers this year. In Milwaukee, he was fantastic and pitched well enough to be traded for 3 prospects. Following the trade to Philly, he was disastrous and had an ERA north of 6. According to spotrac.com, Phelps has a $4.5 million team option. I would be surprised if it were picked up.

David Robertson:
After signing a 2 year deal with the Phillies before the 2019 campaign, Robertson spent the majority of his time with the organization on the Injured List. He did not throw a pitch in the majors this season, and he has not appeared in a big-league game in 18 months. His forgettable stint with the Phillies has likely come to an end.

JoJo Romero:
Despite a rough finish to the year, Romero opened some eyes out of the pen’ in his first big league season. The young lefty was a dependable arm for the majority of the 2020 campaign, and at the very least put himself in the conversation to be apart of the team’s relief core moving forward.

Philadelphia Phillies: JoJo Romero's importance keeps on rising

Ramon Rosso:
A starter for the bulk of his minor league career, Rosso was called upon to help provide some length in the Phillies bullpen. He struggled in his rookie season, but at just 24 years of age, there is a good chance we will see him again in the future.

Ranger Suarez:
The Phillies were hoping Suarez could make an impact after a strong 2019 campaign. However, injuries and a Covid 19 case derailed the southpaw’s season, which was ultimately limited to just 3 appearances. If there is one thing that works in his favor concerning his roster status with the team moving forward, Suarez has experience as both a starter and a reliever.

Brandon Workman:
Workman was acquired in August and inserted into the closers role, a position he would soon relinquish due to poor performance. In 14 games with the Phillies, he allowed 10 earned runs and surrounded 4 long balls. Entering free agency this winter, I doubt the righthander will be returning to Philadelphia.

Looking Back at Doc’s Postseason No-No: 10 Years Later

Roy Halladay’s first big league start went according to script. Although he fell just short of completing a no-hitter, the Blue Jays felt they had a future ace to stick at the top of their rotation for years to come. To an extent, they were right. With that being said, Halladay’s first stint in the big leagues as a whole did not kick off on the right foot. 

Halladay, to the surprise of many, struggled on the mound and was optioned all the way back down to Single-A. He was sent there to finetune his mechanics in hopes to reinvent himself. It was a humbling experience for the future Hall of Famer, but one that proved to do him well in the long run. The “Doc”, for the better part of a decade, was a frontline starter in the American League, and one of the best in all of baseball. However, the Blue Jays could never find a way to make the postseason in the tough AL East.

Prior to the 2009 trade deadline, then Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. looked to improve his rotation by adding an ace. Despite Halladay being his preference or arm of choice, Amaro settled for Cliff Lee due to a lower asking price from Cleveland. Later that offseason, Amaro got the guy he wanted by acquiring Halladay. He then shipped Lee to Seattle in a trade that has been highly criticized.

Halladay would make his Phillies debut on Opening Day next season in Washington DC. The Phillies would go on to win that game and plenty of others in what proved to be a CY Young Award-winning season. With that, the “Doc” now had a CY Young award in both leagues. To say he was surgical would be an understatement.

His best start of the 2010 campaign may have come on a muggy May night in Miami. Halladay was squaring off against a Florida Marlins team that had failed to make the playoffs in 6 consecutive seasons. He did not disappoint. 27 up – 27 down. Perfection.

His most meaningful start came in Game 1 of the NLDS at home vs Cincinnati. The Reds lineup was loaded, including the likes of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, current Phillie’ Jay Bruce, and supervillain Scott Rolen. Halladay, a playoff virgin at the time, did not let the pressure get to him. The result? Just the 2nd no-hitter in postseason history. The first since Don Larson’s Perfecto in the World Series with the Yankees.

Unfortunately, the Phillies were unable to seal the deal and fell short of a world series birth. They were defeated by the eventual world champion Giants in the NLCS. A season later, Cliff Lee rejoined the rotation and paired with Halladay to form a 1-2 punch for the ages. Along with Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, the quartet was known as the 4 aces. The hype around the pitching staff was real.

Once again, the men in uniform failed to get the job done when it mattered most, this time falling to the Cardinals in the NLDS. Halladay got the ball in a decisive Game 5, allowing just one run. However, his former teammate north of the border Chris Carpenter held the Phillies scoreless in a complete-game shutout. They have not made the playoffs since.

Despite a drop-off in 2012 and 2013, Doc’s 4 seasons in Philly were extremely impactful, so much so that his wife Brandy decided he entered Cooperstown with no logo on his cap out of respect for both cities Roy played in. Halladay left a lasting impression both on and off the field, and his tenure in the organization will never be forgotten. The only thing that may have made it better would be a world series ring to go along with all the accolades.

Phillies Should Consider Resigning Didi Gregorious

Hailing from across the pond, Netherlands native and Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius signed his first professional contract way back in 2007 with the Reds organization. He would go on to work his way up through Cincinnati’s minor league system before making his MLB debut in September of 2012. That offseason, Gregorius would be dealt off to Arizona, where he would play for just 2 years before being traded to New York.

There, Gregorius would have the heavily weighted task of being Derek Jeter’s replacement at shortstop, and he failed to disappoint. Many believed he had a perfect lefty swing for Yankee Stadium, and he would go on to prove those people right over the next 5 seasons as his power developed. Not only did Gregorius do some series damage offensively in a deep Yankee lineup, but he was also a staple up the middle defensively for his pitching staff.

Didi was a fan favorite in the big apple, and for good reason: He is a gamer, who is true to his craft, and always looking for ways to help his team win ball games. Although many believed the Yankees would end up keeping Gregorius in town, they decided to go in a different direction by moving 2nd Baseman Gleyber Torres over to shortstop.

Unfortunately for Gregorius, undergoing Tommy John surgery before his last year in the Bronx may have hurt value heading into free agency. Ultimately, he would end up settling for a one-year deal with the Phillies to reunite with his former skipper Joe Girardi. The veteran struggled out of the gate with his new team in spring training, but as we all know that was cut short.

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – MARCH 07: Didi Gregorius #18 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts against the Boston Red Sox of a Grapefruit League spring training game on March 07, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Instead, Gregorius would make his Phillies debut in July, when the team opened up its season at home against Miami. From day one, his left-handed bat made an impact, protecting the likes of Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, and J.T. Realmuto. It is also worth noting that the signing of Gregorius allowed the Phillies to play to their depth at other positions.

Jean Segura, the team’s starting shortstop a season prior, would get reps at 3rd Base, keeping the seat warm until Alec Bohm’s arrival in August. After that, he would go on to play 2nd base for Scott Kingery, who had a season riddled with injuries, a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, and extensive struggles at the dish. Kingery could never seem to get it going. On the other hand, his partner up the middle had a very productive season.

Overall, in 59 games played during the 2020 campaign, Gregorius hit .284 with 10 HRs and 40 RBI’s. He had an OPS of .827, which is almost 80 points higher than his career average of .748. A promising sign from a player who just completed his first season in their 30’s. At this moment in time, most analysts are speculating Gregorius will be seeking a multi-year this offseason, and who can blame him? He is a talented player who brings a lot to the table, including some pretty sick artwork:

Alec Bohm via Didi Gregorius’s Instagram: @sirdidig18

On a more serious note, the next couple of weeks will be crucial for the Philadelphia Phillies franchise. The team is coming off yet another late-season collapse, in which all they had to do was win 1 of their final 3 games to make the playoffs. As we all know, they failed to get the job done. It is easy to point fingers at the higher-ups in the organization, as there is without a doubt some blame to go around in the front office. The attempts to improve their relief core, or lack thereof, mid-season turned out to be disastrous, and if nothing more added to the humiliation of what was already one of the worst bullpens in MLB history.

With that being said, Matt Klentak and company made a wise move bringing in Didi Gregorius last winter. Regardless of whether Klentak will be back to see things through, or a new GM will take his place, whoever is calling the shots should strongly consider bringing back Didi Gregorius at the right price.

Bryson Stott, the team’s first-round selection last summer, is still a few years away from making his MLB debut. With COVID canceling all of Minor League Baseball in 2020, Stott, like countless of other prospects, lost a year of development. One could make the argument that Jean Segura should just move back to shortstop, given that he is already under contract for next season.

However, Scott Kingrey’s offensive production as alluded to earlier was worrisome this year. Given the fact Kingrey can play the outfield, the team could benefit from his versatility should they decide to play him in there on occasion, despite the down year he had with the bat. If Segura were to move back to shortstop full-time, Kingrey would almost have to go back to being exclusively a 2nd baseman.

All summer long fans lobbied for the team to resign their beloved backstop, J.T. Realmuto. Didi Gregarious is certainly someone they should consider resigning as well. He may not be the fan favorite Realmuto is, and he is not considered to be one of the top players at his position, but Gregorius played a key role on the 2020 Phillies and we would miss having him around without question.

Phillies Postseason Odds Fall to Just 33.1%

According to the FanGraphs.com, the Phillies have been given just a 33.1 percent chance to make the MLB Postseason following yesterday’s late inning debacle against the Nationals. This obviously comes as a disappointment, especially when you consider the following:

Going into yesterday’s double header, the Phillies were given a 66.6 percent chance to make the MLB Postseason. You read that correctly. That is a 33 percent swing south after just two games played. So, how did we get here? Let’s take a closer look.

In game one, Aaron Nola took the mound in hopes of limiting the Nationals offense that had scored five runs to beat them the night before. Nola wasn’t bad, allowing just 3 earned runs over 6 innings of work. However, the Phillies played sloppy defense behind him, committing multiple errors, and they fell to D.C. by a final score of 5-1. Nationals starter Austin Voth, who entered his start with an ERA north of 7 on the year, threw a 7 inning complete game to stifle the Fightins’. Things did not proceed to get much better in Game 2.

With the pitching staff in a state of disarray, and potential starting pitching options limited, manager Joe Girardi was forced to go to a bullpen game for the second half of the twin bill. David Hale, who opened a game against Toronto over the weekend, was asked to take the ball to get the game rolling. The Phillies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 2nd thanks to RBI hits by Andrew Knapp and Roman Quinn, but it would not last for long.

As the next 2 innings were to unfold, David Phelps and Jo-Jo Romero combined to give up 6 runs to give the Nationals the advantage. Despite the offense coming from behind to send the game into extras, and even taking the lead in the top half of the 8th, the bullpen was again up to no good. This time, Brandon Workman, another reliever the front office brought in mid-season, allowed a 2-run walk off Homerun to Yadiel Hernandez to send the Nats home victorious.

Following the game, Workman was quoted as saying, “I’m doing it at a career worst right now. My confidence is still there. I’ve worked on a lot of different things with a lot of different people. Personally I have to do my job light years ahead of the way I’m doing it right now.” Unfortunately for Workman and the Phillies, time to get the job done is running out. The team will play one more in our nations capital this evening before heading down to St. Petersburg to finish out the season against the Rays.

If the Phillies do indeed fail to reach the Postseason, it does not look good for the future of a number of executives within the Phillies front office. While speaking on MLB Network this morning, Jim Salisbury of NBCSN Philadelphia stated that the franchise had spent over 700 million dollars just over the past 3 seasons. For the organization to spend that amount of money to no avail, it may be a sign that changes could be imminent.

Phillies Ink Jonathan Lucroy, Greg Bird to Minor League Deals

According to Matt Gelb of The Athletic, the Phillies have signed catcher Jonathan Lucroy and first baseman Greg Bird to minor league deals. Both players will report the alternate site in Lehigh Valley and will be added to the team’s 60-man player poll. The timing of these signings is key, as it comes ahead of the September 15th deadline. This means the duo will be eligible for postseason play, shall the Phillies make it.

Lucroy, 34 years of age, made his MLB debut way back into 2010 with the Milwaukee Brewers. Since that time, he has had a rather successful major league career, which has included a Fielding Bible Award in 2014, to go along with two all-star appearances. During his prime, Lucroy was viewed as one of the best backstops in baseball. Despite the early success, ever since the veteran was traded away from Milwaukee in 2016, he has not been the same player. His offensive production has slipped drastically, and he has also taken steps back as a defender. 

In various stints with the Rangers, Rockies, Athletics, Angels, and Cubs over the past five seasons, the former all-star has fallen off the radar. He has been unable to find consistent playing time, let alone hold down a spot on an MLB Roster. After recording just one at-bat this year with the Red Sox, the man ESPN magazine once quoted as “More valuable than Mike Trout”, will head to a new team once more. Over 11 big league seasons, Lucroy is a career .274 hitter with 108 Homeruns and a .751 OPS.

Bird, 27 years of age, was once considered one of the top prospects in baseball while in the Yankees organization. However, due to a combination of injuries, inconsistency, and a lack of playing time, the left-handed slugger was never able to get it going in the Bronx, and unable to live up to his full potential. Over the winter, Bird signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, but he elected for free agency after being optioned in August. Over four big league seasons, Bird is a career .211 hitter with 32 Homeruns and a .725 OPS.

Bird with the Rangers this past spring.

Now, Bird will reunite with his former skipper Joe Girardi in hopes of revitalizing his career. I feel a fresh start and a change of scenery could work wonders toward getting his swing back on track. It is also worth mentioning that Bird, as well as Lucroy, have been exposed to postseason play during their careers. Bird specifically, hit 3 Homeruns in just 41 at-bats during the Yankees playoff run in 2017. Their experience could go a long way for a team that has failed to make the playoffs every year since 2011.

If anything, additions of Lucroy and Bird should provide Phillies manager Joe Girardi with some insurance down the stretch. With Rhys Hoskins on the injured list with a UCL injury, and J.T. Realmuto sidelined with a strained left hip flexor, the Phillies depth at both catcher and first base became thin rather quickly. These signings help to eradicate that problem. Depending on how both players perform at the alternate site, both could get the call to the majors before the regular season concludes on Sunday, September 27th.

Phillies Need Bullpen Acquisitions to Step Up

Following the postponement of Grapefruit League games due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Phillies first-year manager Joe Girardi was faced with some tough roster decisions when the team returned back to Philadelphia to tune-up for the shortened season. There were a few bench jobs open for competition, the 5th starter job was still up for grabs, and a slew of bullpen jobs were available for the taking. 

Unfortunately for Girardi, the Phillies’ front office did not give him and his staff a lot of quality arms to work with. Despite a struggling relief core the season before, the organization signed only one reliever to an MLB contract, being Tommy Hunter, who pitched with the team the previous two seasons. It is also worth noting that many of the arms the team was counting on were unavailable to pitch due to injury. 

The before mentioned Hunter would not be ready for opening day, as well as the case with lefthander Ranger Suarez. Right-handers David Robertson, Seranthony Dominquez, and Victor Arano have yet to throw a pitch in the majors this season due to injury.

Put all that together and you end up with an inexperienced group of arms who are outmatched by big-league hitters and are pitching in roles they aren’t all too comfortable in. The results, as expected, were not good. Through August 21st, almost a month into the season, the Phillies bullpen had an 8.07 ERA. This was good enough for worst in the major leagues by nearly 2 whole runs. It was on this day Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak had seen enough, so he made some moves.

In two separate trades, the team acquired right-handers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from the Red Sox, and right-hander David Hale from the Yankees. All three were activated upon arriving to Philadelphia, and Workman took over the closer role from the struggling Hector Neris. Less than two weeks later, Klentak was at it again, this time trading for right-hander David Phelps from the Milwaukee Brewers.

With these four new arms on board, the Phillies felt like they were able to upgrade a glaring weakness on their ballclub. However, the new additions have not performed up to par thus far. Take a look for yourself:

Relievers Stats Since Trade to Phillies  

Brandon Workman: 9 Games; 9.1 Innings Pitched; 13 Hits; 4 runs; 3.86 ERA

Heath Hembree: 7 Games; 5.2 Innings Pitched; 9 Hits; 6 Runs (5 earned); 9.53 ERA

David Hale: 2 Games; 4 Innings Pitched; 6 Hits; 3 runs; 6.75 ERA

David Phelps: 4 Games; 2.1 Innings Pitched; 5 hits; 5 runs; 19.29 ERA

In all, the quartet has combined to give up 10 Home Runs since being acquired. That is over just 21 ⅓ innings of work.

Now, this is an extremely small sample size, but this is a shortened season. Every game counts, and certain individuals need to be held accountable. The Phillies went into this season knowing they lacked bullpen depth and they did not address it. During their initial outings with the team, the guys they have brought in have not impressed and have ultimately disappointed as a group. 

This is coming at a time when we needed them most. In recent weeks, southpaws Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan were both placed on the Injured List. The team is also preparing to play six games over the course of four days starting tomorrow when they head to Miami to play the fish.

If the Phillies, who have lost three of their last five, are going to get back on track, they are going to need their new acquisitions in the pen’ to turn it around, before it is too late.  

Andrew McCutchen Returning to Form in Phillies Lineup

When Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak signed 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen to a three year deal in December of 2018, it helped to kick off one of the more memorable offseasons in franchise history. In the weeks that followed leading up to, and even heading into Spring Training, the front office would go on to acquire catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins and sign outfielder Bryce Harper from the Nationals. Along with the addition of shortstop Jean Segura, who was brought over from the Mariners, 2nd-year Manager Gabe Kapler now had four new former All-Stars to place in his lineup.

Those four players would go on to regularly occupy four of the first five spots of the batting order to start the 2019 season. Cutch made an immediate impact, hitting a home run in his first Phillies at-bat. Of course, the Philly Phaithful responded, and he became a fan favorite instantly. It is not hard to see why McCutchen is well-liked by fans, coaches, managers, and baseball people around the league. He is a man of high character who genuinely means well, works hard, and plays the game the right way. That is part of the reason why it was so hard to see him go down with that devastating injury last June.

In sports, a torn ACL is one of the toughest injuries to rehab from. In most cases, it may take an athlete over a year to recover. The recovery process both physically and mentally can be draining, but McCutchen never let himself get too low. He even stayed an active member of the team throughout the remainder of the 2019 campaign. Although the team enjoyed his presence in the clubhouse, his absence in the lineup and the field were felt all year. With him on the shelf, Kapler struggled to find a consistent leadoff man to place atop of the batting order.

Fast forward to Spring Training 2020: Kapler is no longer the guy filling out the lineup card, and Joe Girardi is now the new manager. Now, if the season started when it was supposed to in late March, Andrew McCutchen would not have been ready for Opening Day. With that being said, the season did not start on time, and it was not until July 24th that the Phillies played a gamed that counted for real. This allowed for Cutch to have plenty of time to get ready, and sure enough, he was back in the leadoff spot playing left field in the home opener.

Much like Rhys Hoskins, who has been hitting behind him, McCutchen did not get off to a great start offensively. However, he has been starting to turn it around the past couple of weeks. Over his last 15 games, McCutchen is batting .293, with a .974 OPS. In just the past three days, McCutchen has driven in five RBI’s and has added two more home run’s to bring his season total to five over 29 contests. Overall, he only played the field in 20 of the contests.

It is no secret the Phillies are being cautious with Cutch’s knee, given the severity of the injury. This is a smart call, as McCutchen is locked up not just for the rest of this season, but all of next season as well. In 2021, there is no guarantee the DH, or designated hitter, will stay in the National League. Joe Girardi might as well use that luxury while he has the opportunity to do so.

The bottom line is this: The Phillies have been playing winning baseball, and their recent hot streak has coincided with Andrew McCutchen’s resurgence at the dish. Now, he may not be the MVP candidate he was during his time in Pittsburgh, but his impact is surely being felt a top of the batting order. The Phillies are starting to trend up, and Andrew McCutchen is a big reason as to why.

2020 a Make or Break Season for Roman Quinn

Despite signing Right Fielder Bryce Harper to a record breaking 13 year deal last winter, the Phillies outfield was still an area of uncertainty in 2019.  Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera -who is still technically in the organization- missed the majority of the season, and neither player is expected to make the opening day roster this season. 

McCutchen is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last June, and Herrera is no longer a part of the 40 Man Roster. Veteran Outfielders Jay Bruce and Corey Dickerson -who were acquired via trade mid-season-also missed significant time due to injury. Speaking of injuries, it appears that Roman Quinn is fully healthy (finally) and ready to make an impact in 2020. The 2011 2nd round selection has been on the Phillies radar for a while, and is starting to come into his own.

Quinn’s pure combination of speed and hustle have caught the eye of a number of personnel in the organization, including his new Manager, Joe Girardi. It appears his bat is finally starting to come around, which could be enough to give him the starting nod in Center Field come Opening Day. He most certainly would serve as an upgrade defensively over Adam Haseley, and his ability to switch hit could give him an advantage over other young outfielders on the roster. 

Unlike years past, his spot on the team should not be in question, especially with the newly expanded 26 man rosters. Even if Quinn doesn’t play everyday, he can serve as a defensive replacement late in games, and as a speed threat off the bench late in games as a pinch runner. If Roman can get off to a hot start, and more importantly stay healthy, there is no doubt in my mind that he can play a key role on this team this season, and beyond.

Ranger Suarez a Dark-Horse 5th Starter Candidate

When Ranger Suarez made his MLB debut in 2018, he became the first left-handed pitcher to start a game for the Phillies since 2015 (Cole Hamels). The former top prospect found his niche in the Phillies’ bullpen last season, and it appears he may have a shot to make the major-league roster once again this season. Like many of the pitchers on the staff, the question turns to whether Suarez should pitch as a starter, or in relief. Let’s break it down:

As of now, there appears to be four locks in the Phillies rotation, all of which are right handed (Nola, Wheeler, Arrieta, Eflin). The fifth starter spot is still up for grabs, and there are plenty of arms looking to win a rotation spot out of camp. Among those names are Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Enyel De Los Santos and Ranger Suarez. All have had success with the big league team, but none have been able sustain that success in the long run. Prospects Spencer Howard and Adonis Medina could also be in the mix to start games in 2020. However, both are expected to start in the minor leagues and could potentially debut in the majors later this season.

Vince Velasquez, who appears to be the front runner for the fifth starter spot, has stated publicly that he prefers to work as a starter, and not a reliever. With that being said, if he once again has trouble getting past the fifth inning in his outings, the Phillies will have no choice but to make a change. The same could be said for Nick Pivetta, who struggles to go deep into his outings as well. The NL East is way too competitive of a division to give away games, especially early on in the season. Many fans, myself included, believe Velasquez should be pitching out of the bullpen anyway. He has electric stuff, and could provide the Phillies length in relief if need be.

It’s also worth noting that the Phillies could use the help out of the bullpen, especially from the right side. Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio, and Edubray Ramos, who all made the Opening Day Roster last season, are no longer part of the organization. Seranthony Dominguez and Tommy Hunter are returning from injury riddled seasons, and the status of David Robertson is still in question. 

Returning to Suarez, why not give the guy a chance to start in the rotation? In my opinion, he pitched well enough last season to at least get the chance to prove his worth. Suarez also has a strong track record pitching in the minor leagues, and could give the opposition a different look pitching from the left hand side.

Phillies’ Segura Looking to Bounce Back in 2020

Last winter, the Phillies made a franchise altering trade when they dealt away their shortstop of the future, J.P. Crawford, in a package that netted the team infielder Jean Segura. There were also three other players involved in the trade: Relief Pitchers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos were shipped to Philadelphia, and 1st Baseman Carlos Santana was originally sent to Seattle, before being moved back to Cleveland.

In his first full season with the team, Segura took over the starting job at shortstop and the number two spot in the batting order. After a down year offensively in 2019, the team decided to move in a different direction. Didi Gregorouis, who played under Joe Girardi in New York, was signed away from the Yankees. Barring injury, he will now become the team’s everyday shortstop. Despite losing the starting job at short, Segura is still only 29 years of age, and is under contract through the 2023 season. I expect him to have a bounce back season for numerous reasons. 

For one, I think a change of positions can be beneficial not just in the short term, but in the long run as well. It’s not that Segura was a bad shortstop by any stretch, but a shift to 2nd or 3rd base may help his development, and will add to his versatility.

Another dynamic that will work in Segura’s favor is that he may see more pitches to hit, depending on where he hits in the batting order. With the addition of Gregarious, and a full season from both Bruce and Haseley, the Phillies lineup is as deep as it’s been in a while, especially from the left handed side. The guys who hit towards the top of the order should expect to see more fastballs. Unlike years past, there doesn’t seem to be a “weak link” in our lineup. Last but not least, I feel having already played in Philadelphia and the NL East will work in his favor. He will not need as long to adjust to his team, or the pitchers in the division.

Whether you like him or hate him, Jean Segura is owed over $42 million throughout the next 3 seasons. He is here to stay, and barring injury, is expected to play a starting role on this team moving forward. The two time All-Star will look to rebound, and help the Phillies get back to October in 2020.