A Short-Term Solution to the Darin Ruf Roster Question
Earlier today, Bill Baer pointed out the hard truth that Darin Ruf doesn’t fit on the Phillies roster. It’s a particularly frustrating roster crunch given that the Phillies will begin the season with three games in Texas using the designated hitter rule and, therefore, have extra incentive to find a way to squeeze Ruf, arguably their best offensive bench piece, onto the roster. As Baer noted, the players Ruf’s skill set could most naturally replace, Kevin Frandsen and John Mayberry, Jr., are presently immovable due to guaranteed contracts, lack of minor league options, and defensive considerations. Fortunately, the Phillies have a temporary scheduling quirk they could exploit.
Due to scheduled off days in the first two weeks of the season, the Phillies don’t need a fifth starter until their 13th game. The open roster spot that would normally go to the fifth starter gives the Phillies the freedom to employ either an eight-man bullpen or a six-man bench on their opening day roster. With a rested bullpen to begin the season and the immediate need for a designated hitter, giving the extra spot to Darin Ruf instead of an extra relief pitcher is a viable option.
When April 14th rolls around and another starting pitcher needs to be added to the roster, Ruf still might be the odd man out, but sometimes overcrowded rosters have a way of working themselves out and the Phillies’ schedule can buy them an extra two weeks to see if another solution presents itself.