The Phillies could be without a couple of big pieces when they begin the 2020 season.
As players begin to report to “summer camp/spring training 2.0” everyone is getting a COVID-19 test. This testing is expected to be rigorous, especially after the Phillies had an outbreak in Clearwater during the pause.
We certainly can’t assume anything and teams are not allowed to publically announce when a player has contracted COVID-19, but given the fact that the team had an outbreak in Florida and other players are reporting and being tested, an undisclosed illness of four players leads you to certain conclusions.
Who will play second base for the Phillies?
If Philadelphia doesn’t have Kingery, who was expected to be the team’s opening day starter at second base, they might have to get creative. Neil Walker, Logan Forsythe, Josh Harrison, Ronald Torreyes, and Phil Gosselin each made the initial 60-man roster and could play second base.
Jean Segura could hypothetically play second if needed, but the team would then need top prospect Alec Bohm to come up and start at third in Segura’s place.
It’s likely that Walker or Harrison gets the nod to play second if Kingery can not return with (hypothetically) two negative COVID-19 tests.
Who will be the Phillies closer?
If Hector Neris is not ready, the Phillies might have to get creative with the closer role. Right now they don’t have anyone else on their initial roster with a ton of closing experience.
Bud Norris has saved 47 games over the last two years after transitioning from a starter to a reliever.
Francisco Liriano and Blake Parker have no closing experience. Adam Morgan is coming off an injury-riddled season and would likely be saved for lefties.
Could the club opt for Vince Velasquez in the bullpen to start the season if Nick Pivetta beats him out for a starting job?
There will be a lot of questions if Neris is not ready to start the season.
What are the Phillies plans for Ranger Suarez and Tommy Hunter
Ranger Suarez was making a push for the starting rotation before things got shutdown, striking out eight batters in three appearances. He likely would have been a long man out of the bullpen despite being a lefty, but he was a guy who could have made an impact with starters not going as long as normal this year.
Tommy Hunter was coming off an injury but lost a ton of weight since his last appearance for the Phillies. If he was healthy he could have been an option in the closer role with no Neris.
Let’s see what happens with the Phillies
We can’t make any big assumptions, but given what we know it could be a while until these players come back. Matt Klentak and Joe Girardi will have to get creative early on if they can not have their closer and second baseman to start the season, but thankfully they stocked up on bench bats in the offseason to offset a potential loss of Kingery.
We can certainly hope for the best and that each player recovers fully.