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Inbox: Who will make up the Phillies' bullpen?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers fans' questions
@ToddZolecki
July 1, 2020

Any idea what the configuration of the bullpen will be? Neris, Álvarez, Morgan ... then seemingly a lot of question marks. -- @SeanFit91141350 There might be a lot of question marks, but there should be no shortage of options. There will be 30 players on the roster for the first

Any idea what the configuration of the bullpen will be? Neris, Álvarez, Morgan ... then seemingly a lot of question marks.
-- @SeanFit91141350

There might be a lot of question marks, but there should be no shortage of options. There will be 30 players on the roster for the first couple weeks of the season, and there is no limit on pitchers. That means the Phillies could carry four extra pitchers (12 total) for the first couple weeks of the season. Besides Héctor Neris, José Álvarez and Adam Morgan, I think Tommy Hunter, Victor Arano and Francisco Liriano are smart bets to make the bullpen. If the Phils utilize a five-man rotation, the runners-up for the No. 5 starter’s job will make it. That means two of these three: Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Ranger Suárez. That makes eight. Remember, Philadelphia could carry four more. Deolis Guerra is out of options, which makes him a candidate. Cole Irvin can pitch multiple innings, which should give him an edge. But there really are countless ways they could go, from pitchers already on the 40-man roster to a bunch of non-roster invitees, including veterans and up-and-coming prospects.

Who will be the Opening Day designated hitter?
-- @mljenkinson

Of course, everything depends on the health of the projected 30-man roster. If everybody is healthy, then it probably depends on who is pitching. If it is a right-hander, the best bet is Jay Bruce. His career splits against right-handers (.254/.326/.488) make him a potent weapon in the lineup. His career splits against left-handers (.225/.291/.422) mean the Phillies could look for alternatives.

Eventually, it could be top prospect Alec Bohm.

Breaking down the Phillies' DH options for 2020

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Monday that there will not be an anointed DH. It could be Bruce, Bohm (though he is unlikely to open the season with the team because of service-time considerations), Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, etc.

Over/under 15 homers for Harper this year?
-- @TroyTaroff

Fifteen over 60 games projects to 40.5 over 162 games. If Harper swings the bat like he did in March, I will take the over.

Any chance of a four-man rotation instead of letting the fifth starter be responsible for 20 percent of such a short season when every game counts?
-- @jdneal22

It’s unlikely, only because the starting pitchers will not be stretched out. Yes, they will be throwing fewer innings early, but I think they want to protect their arms as much as possible. Conversely, I think there is little chance for a six-man rotation.

Thoughts on Pivetta making the starting rotation?
-- @CDNBaseballHOF

It would be considered a mild upset if Suárez wins the No. 5 job over Pivetta or Velasquez. The latter two have better stuff. Pivetta might have a very small edge over Velasquez because some of his metrics jump, most notably his elite-level curveball. If Pivetta’s changeup looks good in Summer Camp, it could push him into the job. But Pivetta will pitch regardless; if he is not the fifth starter, he could be the first man out of the ‘pen.

Not trying to be cute, but is there any way the old Phanatic design comes back at some point?
-- @RomeVanLara23

Sure, it is possible if a settlement is reached. But right now, the lawsuit continues, and the Phillies are moving forward with the updated version. I recently showed a picture of the updated Phanatic to my 4-year-old son. His response? “That’s the Phanatic!”

New Phanatic will be at Phillies home games

Why draft third-round pick Casey Martin (a shortstop from Arkansas) and pay him a lot of money when we have Bryson Stott, Scott Kingery and Alec Bohm?
-- @theOfficialHW3

Because you can never have too many good players in baseball. Baseball is different than football or basketball. Players are much more difficult to project. In a perfect world, Kingery, Bohm and Stott will each develop into perennial All-Stars and the Phillies do not have a place for Martin to play in the infield. (He has the athleticism to play center field, so that could be an option at some point.) Even then, I would not consider that a problem because it would allow the Phils to trade Martin or somebody else to fill a need elsewhere.

Highly rated shortstop leads Phillies' Day 2 haul

Remember, that is how the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. They had depth.

Will there be a cardboard cutout of you in the press box?
-- @Phixated

The real me will be in the press box this season, the good Lord willing. But maybe I will sneak a cardboard cutout of myself into the stands. Maybe the third deck in right field. Harper can aim for it.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .