Phillies news: DH coming in 2020, possibly permanent in 2022

Jim Thome #25 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Jim Thome #25 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

The designated hitter is reportedly coming if a 2020 Phillies season occurs, and possibly permanently in 2022 and beyond.

It has been long speculated and debated, but it appears the Philadelphia Phillies will have to get used to the universal designated hitter (DH).

The DH is reportedly coming to the National League as part of a shortened 2020 season, and potentially permanently starting in 2022 and beyond pending a new collective bargaining agreement, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

The 2021 season would not feature the designated hitter, offering Phillies fans one last chance to see pitchers, such as Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, swing for the fences one last time.

Whether the DH will return once and for good starting in 2022 depends on next year’s collective bargaining agreement negotiations. A 75% approval among owners is required for the universal DH to be implemented; that means, all of the American League owners and at least half of National League owners have to sign off.

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“The players, knowing it will prolong careers and inflate checking accounts, are advocating for it.” Nightengale writes. “Most general managers, fearful of their prized pitchers getting hurt at the plate or on the basepaths, are in favor. Many fans, wanting as much offense as possible, are craving it. It’s the traditionalists who are balking at the idea.”

There are many things to consider in how this new rule would affect the Phillies, short and long-term. Top prospect Alec Bohm’s major-league debut, for example, could be expedited this season with another hitter needed in the starting lineup. Long-term, the Phillies could look into potentially moving Rhys Hoskins to the DH position permanently, or even giving Bryce Harper some days off in right. If J.T. Realmuto is re-signed, his career could be prolonged by allowing him to catch fewer games behind the plate while still playing as the DH.

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Looking back, the Phillies could have kept both Jim Thome and Ryan Howard on the roster, and, for that matter, called up the “Big Piece” even sooner.

Adding the DH will surely add more offense into National League games. As Nightengale notes, pitchers slashed just .127/.137/.317 with 2,230 strikeouts across nearly 5,000 plate appearances last season.

Long gone will be the days of debating which pinch-hitter to come in to replace a pitcher; such strategy that fans once criticized eventual World Series-winning manager Charlie Manuel for lacking would not be a factor for National League managers any longer.