Major League Baseball had quite a few minor rule changes during the 2020 COVID-19 impacted season. One of them has major impact on teams’ ability to add depth late in the season. Prior to 2020, teams were allowed to carry up to the entire 40-man roster on the major league squad during the season’s final month. Now, you can expand the roster from 26 to 28.
Who you decide to call up must be more strategic, and hopefully more impactful, than ever. Do you want versatility in the bullpen or expand your rotation to give some guys extra rest? Maybe it’s an extra bench piece or some depth behind an ailing star. In the middle of a wild playoff hunt, let’s take a look at who the Phillies might call up tomorrow.
The Phillies have already made a move
A few days prior to the expanded rosters, the Phillies were forced to make some roster moves. One of which would have been a smart move once the calendar flipped to September: calling up catcher Rafael Marchán. It may be wise to keep him on the roster once Andrew Knapp is ready to return from the COVID-related IL. Having additional depth behind prized free-agent signee J.T. Realmuto is already a smart move, but when compounded with the season-ending injury to slugger Rhys Hoskins, it also adds additional flexibility to the roster overall.
Marchán isn’t known for his offense, but has hit .286 in the majors this season, albeit in a very small sample (35 at-bats). Across five minor league seasons, he also has a caught stealing percentage of 36% – around 6% higher than the league average. Leaving one of the Phils top prospects on the roster will allow the BCIB to get some much-needed relief from starting behind the plate everyday, especially now that there are reports he is dealing with an ailing throwing shoulder and left ankle soreness. With Hoskins out, his bat can stay in the lineup by shifting over to first base on a regular basis. Once Knapp returns, the Phils will still have your two catchers and can keep J.T. at first through the end of the season.
The Return of a familiar face to the ‘pen
One intriguing name is a player Phillies fans haven’t seen on the major league roster since 2019: Seranthony Domínguez. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since June 2019 after tearing his UCL. He has a lifetime record of 5-5 with 16 saves and a 3.27 ERA in 82.2 innings pitched, striking out 103 while walking 34.
His rehab outings haven’t gone swimmingly (15.00 ERA), but he has shown some life as he continues to shake off the rust. His recent outings saw him firing at 96 MPH, up from 90 during his first rehab outing. His movement is starting to return and he has even shown flashes of a sinker with good movement. If he can put together a solid outing or two to prove he has settled back in, he could be a huge addition to the back of the bullpen that has seen a resurgence in the second half.
Let him figure it out in the majors
We all know the story of Alec Bohm. Impressive first season, falling just short of winning Rookie of the Year in 2020, Sophmore slump on both sides of the ball in 2021.
Although Bohm had started to put it together at the plate a bit, the Phillies still felt the best move was to take the pressure off Alec and send him down to Lehigh Valley to work on his swing and his defense. So far, he is batting .318 with two doubles, four RBIs and an .873 OPS in six games with the IronPigs.
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday:
“We want him to work on some things. He’s swinging OK. Just like here, he was swinging OK. But we want him to continue to work on his swing. That’s really what it comes down to. Power, swing, the whole bit of it. Driving the ball. We’ve got things that we’re working on with his swing that we’ve outlined to him. We want him to work on those things, and it’s better if he does that on a day in and day out basis.”
It doesn’t seem like defense is the issue for Dombrowski, but it was a concern. Bohm leads the National League in errors at third base. With first base now open due to the aforementioned injury to Hoskins, Bohm’s glove would be less of a concern. Once Realmuto is ready to return he can take over first base duties, and you can have Ronald Torreyes be a late-inning defensive replacement for Bohm.
Torreyes has seen the bulk of starts at third since Bohm’s demotion, but is batting .202 with a .511 OPS in his last 31 games. With your biggest bat out of the lineup, the Phillies will need all the offensive help they can get.
A few names to keep an eye on:
The players above are more well known names who fill obvious needs across the team. Let’s take a final look at some other names that might surprise you to get the call:
- Mickey Moniak, CF – Although he may not be looked at as you would hope a former number one overall pick would be looked at, the Phillies should see what they have in Moniak. He is slashing .251/.313/.450 at AAA this season and would bring some much needed help to the defensive end. He may not play every day, but Moniak would be a welcome addition to the outfield.
- Cornelius Randolph, LF – This would require a 40-man roster move, but Randolph is a roster first round pick himself and tearing up AAA pitching to the tune of .291/.373/.495. He has added 5 HR and 5 SB. An injury kept him out from the end of May to the beginning of August but picked up where he left off, hitting .286 over the last two weeks.
- Matt Vierling, CF – Another outfield option, Vierling has brought a combination of speed and power to the IronPigs, hitting 11 HR with 10 SB. He’s slashing .276/.358/.444 and has versatility, playing all three outfield positions and some corner infield this season.
- Mike Adams, RP – Might not be the obvious choice, but Adams has been great for Lehigh Valley this season out of the bullpen. In 24 innings pitched, he has a 2.25 ERA. His WHIP is a little worrisome (1.458) but he would be a feel good story as a guy who just last year was playing independent ball in New Jersey.
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire