As the baseball world is less than a week away from one of the best days of the year, Phillies Phans still do not know how the final roster will unfold. Opening Day is one of the most fondly anticipated games of the year because it is a fresh start to a new season for every team, and Philadelphia is eager to see their new ballclub in action.
The Philadelphia Phillies will be taking on the fire-sale Oakland Athletics on April 8th at 3:05 EST. Although we have this information, we know for sure that Aaron Nola will be making his fifth Opening Day start for the Phils due to the Zack Wheeler setback and that the main stars of the Phillies will be taking the field. There is also no announcement for the Athletic’s Opening Day Starter.
Some of the new rule changes have allowed all 30 MLB squads to compile a 28-man roster through May 1st when the roster will go down to a 26-man roster. This new rule benefits many clubs from the late start to Spring Training and alleviates the stress of players who are not fully ramped up for the season, especially pitchers and players who have had visa issues.
So, what will be the projected Phillies Opening Day roster?
Starting Rotation (5)
Opening Day Lineup
DH Kyle Schwarber
2B Jean Segura
RF Bryce Harper
LF Nicholas Castellanos
C J.T. Realmuto
1B Rhys Hoskins
SS Didi Gregorius
3B Bryson Stott/Johan Camargo
CF Mickey Moniak/Matt Vierling
Outlook on the Early Season
The Phillies are going to be gunning for the NL East Crown. This is a given for this win-now team. The third base and center field positions are still up in the air, but Stott and Moniak should be at those starting positions judging from Spring Training. However, Johan Camargo and Matt Vierling have more MLB experience than the first duo and knowing Joe Girardi, he might lean towards those two at third and center.
The other players to keep in mind for the infield are Alec Bohm, Nick Maton, and Ronald Torreyes. Anything can happen at any point in the season, and these will be the next guys up when it comes to reinforcements. These three will get everyday playing time, and if any player on the roster falters, this trio will be back in the bigs again.
The bullpen will not be perfect, but as a Phillies Phan, one can only hope for the best possible scenario. Given the injury of Sam Coonrod and lower than the normal velocity of Connor Brogdon as of late, they will most likely be starting the season on the DL and minors, respectively. The Phillies bullpen has been a revolving door of arms over the last few seasons, but it may stay consistent this year.
The hope for healthy backup arms for the starters will be crucial for this ballclub, and the Phillies could really shine. Corey Knebel, as the closer, is just what the doctor ordered, and the other additions have performed well so far and will hopefully get stronger and wiser with every appearance and help the younger guys out.
Outfield-wise, the Phillies are pretty set. The resigning/injury of Odubel Herrera does loom a little over the state of the platoon CF of Moniak/Vierling the Phillies will employ at the start of the season, but what does that mean when he is healthy? Assuming Herrera gets everyday reps in the minors to come back to the majors, Girardi will have to decide if Moniak or Vierling gets sent down if Odubel Herrera is trending upwards. If there are any injuries to the outfield, Phillies Phans will see a mixture of Herrera/Moniak/Vierling sprinkled into the lineup.
Also, suppose there was reason to go further into the minors. In that case, Simon Muzzioti is an excellent option to help the outfield, who hit .375 in Spring Training before being optioned to minors.
As for the Starting Rotation, they need to stay healthy, period. The Phillies have five hurlers who can get them to October right now, and they need to perform and stay fit. No more Nola collapses, no more Wheeler and Eflin injuries, no more messing around with Suarez in different pitching spots, and Kyle Gibson is more consistent as an innings eater. Plain and simple, this is what the Phils need. Starting Wheeler in the fifth spot, so he and Nola pitch back-to-back will probably happen, but Wheeler is the Ace over Nola in this rotation. According to Phillies’ depth charts and rosters, the next two starters would be Bailey Falter and Nick Nelson, who are supposed to be rounding out the bullpen, not making starts.
The more likely scenario is to put in Christopher Sanchez or even call up Hans Crouse for a start, but hopefully, this team does not have to call on Crouse just yet. Mark Appel could appear since he is sitting in Triple-A, but he will have to prove his readiness since making his baseball comeback.
By May 1st, the Phillies will have to make tough choices about who will stay on the MLB roster. Taking two players away will be challenging, but it could be two bullpen arms or two fielders, depending on the necessity. The state of the Phillies, after one month, will determine those decisions. The main point Phillies Phans should take home from this article is that the team has the depth that will be sufficient to get them to October.
Photo: Heather Khalifa/The Philadelphia Inquirer