With opening day tomorrow for the Phillies, the finalized 25-man roster was released by the Phillies. Let’s take an in-depth look at it.
Hellickson gets the nod for opening day for the second year in a row for the Phillies. The veteran had a solid year last year going 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts. Hellickson locates his pitches well and will not light up the scoreboard. His above average changeup is his out pitch.
Our most consistent pitcher of 2016, Eickhoff will follow Hellickson in the rotation. Eickhoff will look to improve on his win totals and take another step forward after going 11-14 with a 3.65 ERA last season. His best pitch is his 12-6 curveball and has added a changeup to his repertoire.
Velasquez may be the most entertaining pitcher to watch on the Phillies. He pitches with fire and is exuberant on the mound. It is assumed that he won’t have an innings limit this season like he did last year after going 8-6 with a 4.12 ERA. He gets strikeouts, especially with his electric fastball and collected 154 strikeouts in 131 innings pitched last season.
Buchholz was acquired in the offseason via trade with the Red Sox. The Phillies hope he can recapture some of his old form after struggling the past couple seasons. If he has a good first half, he could be a trade candidate come July. He looked shaky at best this spring.
Aaron Nola struggled mightily last season after a quality rookie year in 2015. He struggled with elbow issues for most of the year. Although he is healthy coming into the season, he struggled in Spring Training giving up 18 runs in 19.1 innings pitched. The Phillies and the fans will hope he bounces back this season and goes injury free.
Adam Morgan beat out Louis Garcia and Alec Asher (since traded to Baltimore) for the last spot in the bullpen. He will be the long-man. Morgan’s career stats are not pretty and maybe shortening him up can lead to an uptick in velocity and maybe save his MLB career.
Rodriguez was originally acquired from Pittsburgh in 2014 for Antonio Bastardo. He had a break being the only bullpen piece (besides Morgan) that is a lefty on the 40-man roster. He looked solid in limited time last season with the Phillies and will look to be the lefty specialist.
Ramos flew through the minors last season and impressed on all levels. Originally signed by the Cardinals in 2010, Ramos was signed to a minor league contract in 2012 by the Phillies. He seems to be worth the investment and will look to have a bigger role in 2017.
An all-star in 2014, Neshek and his submarine pitching mechanics came to the Phillies via trade in the offseason from the Houston Astros. He was acquired to sure up the back end of the bullpen and could also be a trade candidate in July. Neshek represented the USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Benoit, who turns 40 in July, was signed in the offseason as a free agent to also help sure up the back end of the pen. He has experience setting up and closing in his long career. Just like Neshek and Buchholz, he could be a trade candidate if he has a solid first half of the season.
The possible closer of the future, Neris and his magnificent splitter will look to be even better than last year. He tailed off at the end of the year but still finished with a 2.58 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 80.1 innings last season.
Jeanmar Gomez (Closer)
Speaking of tailing off at the end of the season, Gomez did that to the max. He pitched to a 19.13 ERA in the month of September. However, he had 37 saves last season and will open up the year as the Phillies closer once again.
1.) 2B Cesar Hernandez
Cesar will lead off the Phillies as he did for most of the year last year. He has tremendous speed but needs to convert more on steals. He stole 17 bags last year but was caught 13 times. Hernandez did hit .294 last season with an impressive .371 on base percentage. In the field, he is an average defender who makes the plays he should.
2.) LF Howie Kendrick
Kendrick was acquired in the offseason from the Dodgers for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney. A natural second basemen, Kendrick will play left this season and played left last season with the Dodgers as well. He is a true professional hitter with nearly 1500 career hits and is a great 2-hole hitter.
3.) CF Odubel Herrera
The lone all-star for the Phillies in 2016, the eccentric Odubel Herrera and his notorious bat flips will look to be even better in 2017. The Phillies sure hope so after giving him a 5-year contract extension in the offseason. It isn’t out of the question for Herrera to be a perennial 20/20 guy in homeruns and steals.
4.) 3B Maikel Franco
You may look at last season’s output compared with the expectations for Franco and see it as a disappointment, but people forget that he’s only 24. He should take a step forward and could increase on his 25 homers and 88 RBI’s that he had last season. Franco needs to improve on his on base percentage most notably needs to increase his walk rate.
5.) RF Michael Saunders
The Phillies went into the offseason looking for a left handed right fielder to hit behind Franco in the lineup and got that in Saunders. A 2016 all star after a great first half, Saunders slowed down considerably at the end of last year. The Phillies hope he has a more consistent 2017.
6.) 1B Tommy Joseph
Tommy Joseph was a pleasant surprise last season after getting called up from Triple-A after a hot start. In 101 games with the Phillies, Joseph hit 21 homers. Adding Saunders can help Franco and Joseph and his power numbers are expected to go up, as he will have a full season with the team. It’ll be interesting to see what happens at first base in the future with Rhys Hoskins in the minors.
7.) C Cameron Rupp
Rupp quietly had a pretty consistent year with the Phillies last year. He performed maybe better than anticipated hitting .252 with 16 homers and 54 RBI’s. With Jorge Alfaro, the catcher of the future, in the minors, I wouldn’t be shocked if Rupp was a trade candidate in July.
8.) SS Freddy Galvis
The player who is most on the hot seat on the Phillies roster may be Freddy Galvis. If JP Crawford plays well and Galvis struggles, JP could take his place come June or July. He will need to perform at the plate to keep his spot. Galvis hit 20 homers last year but had an abysmal .274 on base percentage. We all know how good of a fielder he is, but Crawford is not slouch either. It’ll be an interesting storyline as the season progresses.
C Andrew Knapp
Knapp is on the 25-man roster for the first time in his career, and will make his major league debut this season. Knapp was helped by being added to the 40-man roster before Spring Training. Although his spring wasn’t that great, sometimes it just works out your way. Knapp is a switch hitter that is known more for his hitting, but has improved on his game calling. He has hit successfully at all levels for the Phillies minors.
1B/OF Brock Stassi
The feel-good story of the spring, Stassi makes the Phillies for the first time. A 33rd round pick in 2011 that turns 28 in August, Stassi hit the world out of the ball this spring hitting 6 homers. He also plays really good defense and seems to be a perfect alternate to Tommy Joseph, especially if late inning defensive replacements are needed.
UTILITY Andres Blanco
Andres Blanco is your prototypical quality utility infielder. He can play all over the infield, is a switch hitter, a quality hitter, and a good guy to have in the clubhouse. He’s been all that for the Phillies for the past 3 seasons.
OF/1B Daniel Nava
Some people may remember Nava from when he got his first major league hit, a grand slam off the Phillies’ Joe Blanton. He impressed this spring hitting .347 and beat out Chris Coghlan and Jesmuel Valentin for the final spot on the roster. He is also a switch hitter who can play both corner outfield spots and first base.
OF Aaron Altherr
Altherr has all the skills to be a quality starting outfielder in the big leagues. He has the size, the speed, the power, the defensive ability, and the throwing arm. Altherr has the chance to be a 5-tool player, he just needs to cut down on strikeouts and make more contact. If he puts it all together, he could be starting every day by years end.
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