Phillies FAQ: Details on the upcoming season
PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper tweeted a gif of himself riding the Phanatic’s four-wheeler at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.
“Philly,” he wrote. “We’re finally coming home!”
Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that there will be a 60-game regular season beginning July 23 or 24. Every team will have a two-month sprint to the postseason that could create some unexpected fun with unlikely winners and losers.
The Phillies were 33-27 through 60 games last season, good for first place in the National League East. They were 32-28 through 60 games in 2018, only one game behind the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card berth. Both of those teams collapsed during the final two months of the season, failing to make the postseason. But this year, those records would have been enough to either make the playoffs or be in the hunt entering the final day of the season.
On the other side of the coin, remember the 1995 Phillies? They started 38-22 and finished 69-75. Yeah, something like that could happen this season.
Of course, COVID-19 remains a threat. The league and union hope that policies and plans in place will help them navigate through the pandemic so they can play the full 2020 season.
Where will camp take place, and when?
The Phillies plan to hold workouts at Citizens Bank Park, and possibly at nearby fields at FDR Park. They are expected to utilize Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa., home of their Triple-A Lehigh Valley affiliate, as a second base of operations, particularly for their taxi squad.
When and where is Opening Day?
July 23 or 24.
Which teams will be on the schedule?
The Phillies will exclusively play teams in the NL East and the American League East to limit travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Phils will play 40 games against their divisional rivals and 20 games against the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles.
How are the Phillies’ injured players doing?
The Phillies had seven players recently test positive for COVID-19, which is far more concerning than anybody recovering from injuries. The names of the players are not being reported, but they will be quarantined. The first player tested positive June 16, meaning he potentially could be ready for the first workout in Philadelphia on July 1.
Left fielder Andrew McCutchen (left knee), right-hander Tommy Hunter (flexor tendon) and righty Victor Arano (right shoulder) were recovering from injuries in March. Each of them should be ready to go by Opening Day. McCutchen and Hunter rehabbed in Clearwater, Fla., over the past few months, so the Phils are confident about their progress. Arano had been working out at home in Mexico, so they have not had eyes on him. Righty Seranthony Domínguez is going to have Tommy John surgery whenever he is ready, so he will not pitch until mid-2021 at the earliest.
What are some competitions to watch when camp resumes?
The Phillies are set in the infield with catcher J.T. Realmuto, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, second baseman Scott Kingery, third baseman Jean Segura and shortstop Didi Gregorius. Everybody knows Harper will play every day in right field. McCutchen, if he is healthy, will play in left. That leaves the team’s only true position battle in center field between Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley.
Quinn is a dynamic player when healthy. Haseley showed flashes of his potential in September. Neither won the job in March, and it seems unlikely a winner will be declared. The Phils will make lineups based on matchups and how each one is playing.
Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Ranger Suárez were battling for the team’s final job in the rotation. (Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin have the first four jobs locked up.) The Phillies likely won’t employ a six-man rotation, especially with four extra roster spots to begin the season. They can use those spots to load up on relievers to help them cover innings.
Who will serve as the DH?
The Phillies are better situated than most NL teams. They have a couple ideal candidates in Jay Bruce and Alec Bohm. Bruce has pop, and he makes sense against right-handed pitchers. Bohm is the team’s top prospect, and everybody agrees he is ready to hit big league pitching. He is unlikely to open the season with the team, but he eventually could see time at DH, third base and first base.
Hoskins could also get some time at DH. So could Harper, Realmuto and McCutchen. It would be a way to keep them in the lineup but get them off their feet in this 60-game sprint to the postseason.
How will rosters be different? How will those changes affect my team?
Teams will open the season with 30 players on the active roster, four more than the standard 26. The number will drop to 28 after two weeks, then to 26. It makes little sense to carry a third catcher, especially with the DH.
The Phillies need at least two bench players. Non-roster invitees Logan Forsythe, Phil Gosselin, Josh Harrison and Neil Walker were battling for those jobs before camp was suspended. They remain in the mix, along with outfielders Kyle Garlick, Nick Martini and Nick Williams.
But the extra four roster spots to open the season are likely to go to pitchers, unless there is a restriction on the number they can carry. Philadelphia has five or six smart bets to make the bullpen, if everybody is healthy: Héctor Neris, José Álvarez, Adam Morgan, Hunter, Arano and maybe non-roster invitee Francisco Liriano. If the Phils proceed with a five-man rotation, two of the three No. 5 starter candidates (Pivetta, Velasquez and Suarez) will end up in the bullpen. That bumps the ‘pen to seven or eight pitchers. A host of 40-man roster and non-roster pitchers will be in the mix for a job.
But pitchers that can pitch multiple innings (i.e. Cole Irvin) and pitchers out of options (Deolis Guerra) should be on the inside track.
How can I watch the games?
NBC Sports Philadelphia is expected to carry most of the games. Out-of-market Phillies games can also be streamed live on MLB.TV on your favorite supported devices.
How can I listen?
SportsRadio 94 WIP or on the go with MLB Audio.