In 21 days the Phillies active roster will be set. Which 25 players will be named on that roster when the season begins on April 1? It is one of the few intrigues in the Purgatory that is Spring Training. You know things are bad when Charlie Manuel’s incident with a tricycle is considered news. Funny how the bench warmers garner more headlines than the entire starting staff, but that’s what you get in a land where the sun shines and stats mean nothing.
Let’s continue the trend and try to focus on those last few roster spots and project the Opening Day roster. We will do the pitching today and the position players in the next article.
The Phillies, like most major league teams, will probably carry 12 pitchers. The five starters are easy:
Outside of the possibility of Hamels leading the rotation instead of Halladay, there are no surprises here. Don’t expect the order to change, either. The Phillies would not have leaked the idea of Hamels pitching on Opening Day over Roy Halladay if they weren’t serious. The rest works itself out well since it perfectly alternates lefties and righties.
The bullpen isn’t quite so clear:
Here is how the bullpen shapes up thus far in the spring.
The Phillies have six relievers fighting over three bullpen spots. The Phils will probably go with at least one lefty, at least one righty, and possibly one pitcher used mainly as the long man.
The Phillies will not rely on Antonio Bastardo as their lone lefty reliever after his shaky 2012 season, which means at least one of those three openings will be filled by a lefty. The southpaw group includes Jeremy Horst, Jake Diekman, and Raul Valdes. Since Jeremy Horst delivered for the Phillies last year, I think he is the most likely of the bunch. Jake Diekman still needs to work on his command, so I don’t see him making the team. Raul Valdes has an outside shot of taking the role of long reliever, but he won’t likely be used as a lefty specialist.
The Phillies have three capable right-handed arms to choose from.
Phillippe Aumont - The Phillies like Aumont as a future late inning pitcher and potential closer. I think they are secretly hoping that Aumont will kick some tail in the WBC for Canada and win this role. But with stiff competition, he will have to pitch well in order to join the big leaguers.
Justin De Fratus – De Fratus has pitched a little in the bigs and seems polished enough at this point to make the team. I think he will win one of the spots.
Mike Stutes – For whatever reason, I am not getting a good vibe on Stutes. He had a good start to his 2011 season and appears to be healthy, but I think the Phillies have lingering reminders of his decline in 2011 and want him to earn the job back and prove his health. My gut says that Stutes begins the season at Lehigh Valley.
With the addition of Chad Durbin, who pitched in this role during his first tour of duty with the Phillies, they don’t necessarily need another long reliever. I don’t think Charlie has changed his mind on how to utilize Durbin, so it would surprise me if they add a reliever specifically as the long man. As I mentioned, Raul Valdes pitched in this role last year and would be an option. Tyler Cloyd could also be the 2013 version of Kyle Kendrick and switch between long reliever and spot starter. But I think they would rather keep him in the minors for use strictly as a spot starter.
Justin De Fratus
There is still plenty of time for this to change, so it should be interesting to see how things turn out.
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