Phillies: 7 players fighting for an Opening Day roster spot this spring
Cole Irvin, Starting Pitcher
While it does appear manager Joe Girardi will initially give Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta one last chance to prove they’re capable starters, the #5 spot in the rotation is by no means set in stone. The Phillies experimented heavily with their starters last season, and this spring should be no different.
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While VV and Pivetta battle it out to see who is “less worse”, a lesser talked about guy in Cole Irvin could sneak his way into the conversation. While Irvin was unquestionably terrible for the Phillies last year (5.83 ERA), he provides the team with some extra flexibility. Using Irvin would give Girardi the chance to move Velasquez and Pivetta to the bullpen, where they could be better suited long term.
Realistically, whoever the Phillies decide on for their #5 job is just a bridge for standout prospect Spencer Howard. Even if Irvin wins a major league spot, he’d likely be sent back down for Howard once he’s ready to join the main roster.
Kyle Garlick, Outfielder
Acquired less than a week ago via a trade with the Dodgers, Kyle Garlick has a legitimate chance to make the roster as a backup option in the outfield.
Garlick has spent almost all of his baseball career down in the minors (mainly due to a surplus of talent in the Dodgers’ system) however, he seriously impressed last season in AAA. He posted a .314 batting average and a 1.057 OPS, while also launching 23 homers. Combining him with Jay Bruce as power-based bench bats in the outfield may be too enticing to pass on for the Phillies’ coaching staff.
While Roman Quinn is the clear front-runner for that other outfield spot, his high rate of injury may give Garlick a chance to earn himself a spot with the main roster.