(Photo courtesy of Reuters)
The Phillies are currently 5.5 games ahead in the National League Wild Card race. However, with a very tight race and a month of baseball still left, anything can happen. The Phillies have one goal, and that is to return to the Fall Classic and avenge last season's defeat. To do that, the Phillies should make these 4 moves to fully complete the roster, lineup, and rotation!
Recall Nick Nelson; DFA Dylan Covey
When looking at the Phillies roster, the biggest weakness is still their bullpen. Even though the bullpen is light years ahead of previous seasons, there is still room for improvement. Many players know their roles, but we saw last year that depth is a team's best friend during a playoff push.
Covey has been the weak link of the bullpen all season. I am still confused as to why he was never sent down to AAA. Looking at games he has pitched in, each game was a game that was out of reach. Either the Phillies had a giant lead or were in a giant hole. Either way, Covey is used in situations that the game has already been decided and Topper does not want to use his better arms in the bullpen. Every game in the playoffs is important, and if he enters the game, I have zero confidence in him.
Nelson has been a tsurprising AAA player this season. When I say surprise, I mean I am shocked he is still in AAA. He has plenty of MLB experience and postseason experience last year with the Phillies. He battled some injuries at the start of the year, but he has been the IronPigs best pitcher in the 2nd half of the season. Just last night he finished off his 7th quality start of the season and brings his record to 7-2 in 2023. He has been used primarily as a starter in the minors, but with the Phillies he has been used as a reliever. By adding Nelson into the mix, it gives the Phillies both starting and reliever depth, something they will definitely need this October.
Recall Kody Clemens, DFA Rodolfo Castro
Castro hasn't really done anything wrong. The big thing for him, is we can improve at his position. Castro has been used primarily as a defensive replacement. His bat is fairly average or even below average.
Clemens should be recalled up to the Phillies. When he was optioned back down to AAA, he was starting to come around as a fielder and hitter. He would obviously be the back-up to Bryce Harper at 1B but has the potential to also jump into 2B and 3B, two positions he has experience in this season in AAA. In 49 games in AAA, he has 14 home runs, 47 hits, with a slash line of .264/.383/.567. Clemens would be an excellent addition to the lineup and would be a solid option off the bench.
Johan Rojas and Christian Pache split reps in CF
Okay this involves a lot of moving parts. Follow along...Schwarber to DH, Marsh to LF, and Pache and Rojas splitting reps in CF.
Pache and Rojas are both excellent defenders. When the Phillies want their best defensive lineup, both Pache and Rojas, with Marsh would make up the OF. However, for the first 8 innings, only one of them will be in the lineup. Pache is the superior hitter. The big concern with Pache is his health. Even though he is back playing, his hip is still not fully healed. Watching him play live with Lehigh Valley, you can tell he is not 100% and his hip is still bothering him. The last thing we need is Pache to go down again. Rojas is going to be a star in this league, but right now his bat is not there yet. Getting him more at bats is only going to make him more comfortable down the stretch. Playing both and splitting reps will only keep Pache healthy and help with Rojas' development.
Transition Michael Lorenzen to the bullpen
The Phillies are currently working with a 6-man rotation. I said earlier that depth is going to be our best friend this October. Assuming everyone stays healthy, Lorenzen (who is mostly used as a reliever in his career) would transition to the bullpen. There is no chance the Phillies run with a 6-man rotation throughout the playoffs, and between Lorenzen and Christopher Sanchez, one of them is going to the bullpen. Sanchez has been the more consistent pitcher this season. Lorenzen who has a lot of experience as a reliever would provide so much depth in the bullpen.
Phillies rotation going forward:
The Phillies roster is not perfect, but it is definitely built for the postseason. The lineup has a mix of guys who can hit the ball out and guys who can hit for contact. The top end starting pitching, plus a lot of depth. These moves are going to put the Phillies in the best position to make a run at the World Series.
-Adam Mack @adammackMLB