Injuries to the Phillies bullpen was a major reason behind their demise in 2019 after losing David Robertson, Pat Neshek, Seranthony Dominguez, Adam Morgan, Tommy Hunter, and Victor Arano for long-periods of time.
Robertson, one of the Phillies key offseason acquisitions, is likely to miss the entire 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. It’s unlikely he’ll give the Phillies anything other than the seven appearances he mustered in 2019, all at the cost of $23 million, a deal that looked like a steal for Philadelphia at the time.
Neshek and Hunter are both free agents and are unlikely to return given their age and injury history.
Of those players the Phillies might consider a reunion with Jared Hughes, who had a 2.41 ERA in his final 21 appearances with the Phillies. Morin and Parker had varying degrees of success, but each had at least three really bad games.
Most likely to return to the bullpen (depending on health) are Hector Neris, Dominguez, Morgan, Jose Alvarez, Victor Arano, and Ranger Suarez.
Candidates to start the season in the bullpen include J.D. Hammer, Edubray Ramos, Edgar Garcia, Enyel De Los Santos, Nick Pivetta, Cole Irvin, and Vince Velasquez.
Assuming the Phillies don’t trade Pivetta or Velasquez, they’ll likely compete for one or two rotation spots before moving to the pen. Ramos is in his first year of arbitration and must be tendered a contract, which might not happen.
On the free agent market, Philadelphia missed out on Will Smith, perhaps the only safe option available. Dellin Betances is coming off an injury-plagued season in New York, but Joe Girardi is familiar with him. Will Harris had a 1.50 ERA for Houston last year, but he’ll be 35 this season. Sergio Romo was reasonably effective for the Twins and Marlins last year, but he turns 37 this offseason.
Trades aren’t expected to be great options either with the Reds expected to keep Raisel Iglesias.
Prediction: Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Adam Morgan, Jose Alvarez, Victor Arano, Ranger Suarez, Vince Velasquez, Dellin Betances
If Arano or Dominguez aren’t healthy, Hammer or another low-risk free agent fill the spots.