Phillies Using 40 Man Roster As Bullpen
The Phillies’ 40 man roster is full of pitchers, a fact that becomes very clear they have any hitting injuries. Some of the pitchers on the 40 man roster (Drew Anderson, Franklyn Kilome, Jose Taveras, and Ranger Suarez) are prospects in development, and others like Ben Lively are rotation depth. The rest of the roster is relievers stuck in the process of trying to be major leaguers. In this era of baseball teams have used those pitchers as a taxi squad of sorts. The Phillies to open the year mostly stuck with their opening bullpen, only making changes when injuries demanded it. In the past week they have made the following moves.
- RHP Luis Garcia to 10 day DL
- Mark Leiter Jr to AAA
- Jake Thompson to MLB
- Yacksel Rios to MLB
- Hector Neris to AAA
- Austin Davis to MLB
- Jake Thompson to AAA
- Zac Curtis to MLB
Now these moves don’t look major from a distance. That is the back of a roster filler, and that is exactly what it is. The Phillies most nights are going to turn to some combination of Victor Arano, Seranthony Dominguez, Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, and Tommy Hunter to solve their problems. Neris and Garcia (who has fairly minor injury) had been part of that group, but had been struggling for a while. The long man on the roster had been seeing work every week or so.
With these moves, the Phillies seem to looking for the optimal set of marginal relievers. They have shuffled the long man (Thompson and Leiter) after they have pitched in games, and in the most recent move, promoted their 3rd LHP to majors. Given that the Phillies have cared little for conventional wisdom on stocking lefties (mostly because their LHPs have been bad), it is a bit of a curious decision. However, when we look at the Phillies’ next series it starts to make sense. The Washington Nationals feature an outfield of left handed hitters in Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, and Juan Soto, and another prominent hitter in Daniel Murphy. This year, Harper is hitting .209/.346/.407 off of lefties, Eaton is hitting .167/.231/.167 (13 PAs), and Murphy had an OPS .137 lower off lefties last season. Zac Curtis may not be good, but if you are going to carry 8 relievers, having one that can be used for one out situations seems like a good thing to have, especially if it frees up Austin Davis and Adam Morgan for higher leverage situations.
The Phillies should be able to continue this trend after this series. Luis Garcia is out of options, but the Phillies have plenty of options on Davis and Rios to send them down temporarily. If they need to play more roster shenanigans, Ramos, Dominguez, Arano, and Morgan all have the ability to be sent down temporarily once Neshek is back. Even if the Phillies don’t mess with those players, they can run a bullpen of Arano, Dominguez, Neshek, Hunter, Morgan, Garcia, and Ramos and just rotate the final slot depending on the opponent. For a bullpen in need of help, the marginal help of a usable 8th arm, may give the Phillies a small boost where there is greatness missing.