Phillies: How will the bench battles play out?
The Phillies starting nine are all but locked in, with only one starting outfield position being in question. Pitching rotation aside, the bench is an area with the most question marks.
So, what sort of mixing and matching will Joe Girardi do to maximize the potential of this year’s bench spots?
A typical MLB bench allows for a backup catcher, two infielders and two outfielders, or a mixing of four position players. The Phillies may also opt to add an extra relief arm, which further constricts bench options. However, it makes the most sense to base the bench off traditional methods, and there are plenty of hard decisions to be made when cutting down the roster to 26.
When it comes to the backup catching position, the options are Andrew Knapp, Deivy Grullon, and Christian Betancourt being the outside man looking in. Knapp’s offensive production is very limited, hovering around the Mendoza line and hitting for little to no power. However, he calls a good game and pitchers seem to be comfortable with him.
Grullon was sent to minor league camp for increased reps, which means he’ll at least start the year in Triple-A. If Knapp continues to be a non-factor in his at-bats, the Phillies could quickly move to Grullon, who has flashed a solid power and hit tool across AA and AAA the past two seasons.
Looking at the infield, there’s plenty of directions the Phillies could go. Arquimedes Gamboa was moved to minor league camp, meaning non-roster invitees Logan Forsythe, Phil Gosselin, Josh Harrison, and Neil Walker will likely battle it out for those two infield positions.
Alec Bohm is the man everyone is watching, but he’ll begin the year in the minors. Now, most of these veterans have opt-outs if they do not make the big-league roster, so the Phillies likely lose out on those that get cut.
Forsythe has brought his bat to spring training, hitting over .350 early on with a power stroke that included an absolute moonshot against the Twins on Tuesday afternoon. He has a super-utility quality to him, and he’s only a couple years removed from multiple productive seasons in Tampa Bay.
Phil Gosselin’s spring stats aren’t great, but it underplays the fact that he has been hitting the ball hard consistently. Gosselin can play every position, which only helps the Phillies when resting position players. Young guys like Luke Williams, Bohm, and Nick Maton will get their chance, but based on who’s getting the at-bats, it appears the Phillies want veterans on their bench.
As far as the outfield is concerned, the Phillies will face their toughest decisions. Roman Quinn has seen projections to be the starting center fielder, but Adam Haseley will likely win that job. This makes Quinn almost a lock for the fourth outfielder position with his defensive prowess, speed, and on base ability.
Quinn could start the year in the opening day lineup with Andrew McCutchen still recovering from knee surgery.
Nick Williams and Jay Bruce are the two incumbents left. Williams has regressed in recent years, meaning Bruce comes in as the power bat option. However, non-roster invitees, including former No.1 pick Mickey Moniak, Nick Martini, and Kyle Garlick have impressed this spring, and Moniak will likely be knocking on the door soon.
All that being said, the Phillies Bench could set up as follows
C: Andrew Knapp
IF: Logan Forsythe, Phil Gosselin
OF: Jay Bruce, Roman Quinn
A veteran-laden bench might be what the Phillies need to supplement a young core, but it’ll be very interesting to see what occurs when some of these prospects begin to push on the door to get playing time, mainly the Alec Bohm situation. But, for the time being, it seems as though the Phillies are beginning to set their lineup into stone.