The Philadelphia Phillies are just over three months away from Opening Day 2016, but the club’s starting lineup is already virtually set.
The Phils are scheduled to take the field for a 4:10pm game at Great American Ball Park on Monday, April 4th against the host Cincinnati Reds. The likelihood is that Cincy will be starting one of two righthanders, either Anthony DeSclafani or Raisel Iglesias.
If that is indeed the case, then it almost certainly means that the Phillies own Opening Day lineup has a great shot to look something like this:
- Odubel Herrera, CF
- Cesar Hernandez, 2B
- Maikel Franco, 3B
- Ryan Howard, 1B
- Cody Asche, LF
- Aaron Altherr, RF
- Cameron Rupp, C
- Freddy Galvis, SS
- Aaron Nola, SP
In making his decisions, manager Pete Mackanin would be going with the percentages in using his lefty bats to start against the righty pitcher. That gives Howard the start at 1st, is the reasoning behind giving Asche a start in left, and pushes Hernandez to 2nd in the order, where as a switch-hitter he brings yet another left-handed hitting option.
The lineup above also gives the nod as the starting catcher to Rupp. That is by no means a given, though he will indeed enter spring training penciled into that role based on his 2015 performance. However, newcomer J.P. Arencibia should provide a legitimate challenge for both Rupp and longtime catcher Carlos Ruiz, who will be in his final spring with the club. Spring training should decide the backstop starter.
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This lineup also gives a starting right field nod to Altherr over newcomers Peter Bourjos and Tyler Goeddel. The reasoning is clear: Altherr has been developed in the Phils’ farm system. All things being equal, he is likely to get the benefit of the doubt and the starting nod to begin the season. However, here again, spring training performances could very well dictate who takes the field for this Opening Day.
This is not a lineup that, over the course of 162 games, is going to strike fear into the hearts of opposition pitching staffs across baseball. This lineup is the main reason that I don’t foresee major improvement in the Phillies position in the standings next season.
We have an entire winter to get through, followed by Spring Training in Florida. Injuries will almost certainly occur. Some players will seriously disappoint. One or two may emerge as pleasant surprises, as Herrera a year ago. There may even still be a trade or free agent signing.
Much can happen between now and Opening Day in Cincinnati. But barring major surprises, this could well be your starting lineup on that first April Monday. Let’s see how well my crystal ball works.