Let’s predict the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies opening day roster! After the team re-signed Didi Gregorius, it’s beginning to look a lot clearer who will and will not be on the team by opening day. The roster may change, hence the name “way too early roster prediction.” However, looking at who is on the team today, here is my projection of the Phillies’ 2021 opening day roster.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies Catcher
I have been a heavy critic of the Phillies’ front office throughout my writing career, specifically towards owner John Middleton. However, I have to give credit where it’s due. By waiting out the market, the Phillies were able to bring back J.T. Realmuto at a lower price than anticipated with a five-year, $155.5M deal. Realmuto is easily the best catcher in MLB and a gold glove winner back in 2019. Not to mention, putting reinforcements around Bryce Harper sets the correct precedent about the state of this organization.
Most fans were mentally preparing for Andrew Knapp to be the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies everyday catcher. However, he will go back to his role as the backup catcher. Knapp hit two home runs and recorded an OPS of .849 in 33 games last year. If the team decides to roster three catchers, Rafael Marchan may make the team, but I left him off the list.
Once again, credit where it’s due to the Phillies’ organization. After performing well on a one-year prove-it deal in 2020, Didi Gregorius re-signed with the Phillies on a two-year contract worth 28M. The Gregorius signing moves Jean Segura back over to the second base, where he should get regular playing time.
After a great rookie year, Alec Bohm is set to be the Phillies’ everyday third baseman as well. Bohm had several clutch hits as a rookie as he hit .338, but ideally, fans would love to see some more power out of his bat in 2021.
Rhys Hoskins finally broke out of his nearly 365-day slump towards the end of last season, but unfortunately underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. As a non-pitcher, Hoskins’s timetable is only 4-6 months since he injured his non-throwing arm. At the beginning of the month, Joe Girardi stated that he’s optimistic Hoskins will be ready for opening day. If he’s healthy, Hoskins will be the everyday first baseman.
The Phillies may go out and sign a veteran as the fifth infielder, but for now, I’ll list C.J. Chatham. At age 26, Chatham has yet to crack MLB, but the Phillies see something in him as they traded for him in the offseason. If he can show he belongs in spring training, he’ll have a shot at making the team.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies Outfield:
Andrew McCutchen had a solid year in 2020 and projects to be the everyday left fielder for the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies. The same goes for Bryce Harper in right field, as he is coming off a great season in 2020. The bigger question is who will win the battle in center field. Roman Quinn is much faster and arguably has a higher ceiling. However, he can never seem to stay healthy. Adam Haseley is a better fielder but lacks power and speed as a hitter. Neither is an excellent option in the long run, but I’d give Haseley the advantage to win the everyday spot.
For the moment, I’m listing Kyle Garlick as the fifth outfielder. He struggled in 2020, with only three hits in 22 at-bats. However, he does have some power at the plate and is 29 years old compared to Mickey Moniak, who is 22, and will benefit from playing in Triple-A. Ideally, the Phillies will bring back Jay Bruce, who remains a free agent; but if not, Garlick should earn the fifth outfield spot.
2020 was a year to forget for Scott Kingery. As the initial everyday third baseman in 2020, he struggled mightily and eventually lost his playing time to Alec Bohm. He suffered from the lasting effects of COVID-19 and recorded an atrocious OPS of .511 in 124 at-bats last season. While Kingery doesn’t project to be in the opening day lineup, he’ll play around the diamond and possibly in centerfield as well in 2021.
Phillies Starting Pitching
Aaron Nola had a great year in 2020, posting a 3.28 ERA in 71.1 innings of work after a down year in 2019. He’ll be the opening day starting pitcher for Philadelphia. Zack Wheeler looked great in his first year with the team and posted a 2.92 ERA in 71.0 innings of work. Zach Eflin needs to become more consistent but is still a solid third or fourth option in this team’s rotation.
One of the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies’ biggest question marks coming into the year is what can be expected out of Spencer Howard. Howard carried a ton of hype heading into his rookie season but struggled with his command in 2020, as he posted an ERA of 5.92 in 24.1 innings of work. At age 24, if he can develop into a reliable third pitcher like the Phillies are hoping, it will go a long way for the Phillies.
The biggest roster question is who will be the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies fifth starter. Neither is all that intriguing as a fifth option, but I’ll give the slight nod to Moore, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the team on Friday. The former top prospect in all of baseball, Moore has struggled with elbow injuries throughout his career and pitched in Japan in 2020. Not an ideal member of the starting rotation, but Moore brings more upside than Velasquez, who has consistently struggled with his command during his tenure in Philadelphia.
Signing Archie Bradley makes him the most important new member of the team from last season. Another former top prospect, Bradley has found a spot for himself at the MLB level since moving to the bullpen in 2017. With Arizona and Cincinnati in 2020, Bradley recorded an ERA of 2.95 across 18.1 innings of work. On paper, he projects to be the Phillies’ closer in 2021.
The Phillies’ bullpen was so bad in 2020 that Hector Neris, who recorded an ERA of 4.57 in 21.2 innings of work, was their most consistent guy. Neris has a great splitter but has struggled with allowing home runs. Hopefully, he can be a reliable option and re-gain his 2019 form this season.
Jose Alvarado is an absolute flame-thrower and the best left-handed option for the Phillies in 2020. You can find my full breakdown of Alvarado here.
Connor Brogdon showed some potential in his rookie year in 2020 when other guys around him struggled significantly. The same goes for JoJo Romero, who is similar to Alvarado as a left-handed flame-thrower.
Even if Vince Velasquez does not win the fifth spot in the rotation, I still think he’ll make the team. Considering his high velocity but high pitch counts, it would make sense to use him as a reliever.
Ranger Suarez and David Hale earn the final two spots in the rotation. Neither is a great option but has shown more throughout their careers than other options.
It’s also worth mentioning that Seranthony Dominguez, who flashed a lot of potential in 2018 and 2019, will likely miss all of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.
Spring training is less than three weeks away, and it will be interesting to see how everyone performs when games return.
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