Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

How the Phillies may make use of an expanded roster in September

It’s a testament to the Phillies’ improved depth after several midseason additions that they have appealing September options.

In Bryce Harper’s absence, Darick Hall hit nine homers and slugged .550 after getting called up from triple A.
In Bryce Harper’s absence, Darick Hall hit nine homers and slugged .550 after getting called up from triple A.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The cavalry has mostly arrived, with the returns this month of Jean Segura and Bryce Harper from long stays on the injured list and Kyle Schwarber and Brandon Marsh from shorter stints.

Soon, the Phillies’ depth will get here, too.

With the arrival Thursday of the month of September, teams will be able to expand their active rosters. Unlike previous seasons, when the entirety of the 40-man roster could be added, teams will be capped at 28 players, two more than the usual allowance.

But those extra spots are valuable in a late-season playoff push, and the Phillies will be strategic in how they make use of them.

» READ MORE: Inside the NL playoff race: Big question and outlook for the Phillies and the rest of the field

There are restrictions. Teams may call up two position players, or one pitcher and one position player, but can’t add two pitchers. Because the minor league season extends longer into September, with triple A running through Sept. 28, players still can get called up and sent down. But teams may also carry a five-man taxi squad for road trips.

The Phillies expect Seranthony Domínguez (right triceps tendinitis) and Zack Wheeler (right forearm tendinitis) to return. Domínguez is eligible to come back Sept. 2, although after only first playing catch Sunday, it may take a few more days. The Phillies remain hopeful that Wheeler will start Sept. 6 against the Miami Marlins.

Domínguez and Wheeler likely would push Cristopher Sánchez or Bailey Falter to triple A or the taxi squad. But both figure to contribute in September, either as spot starters or multi-inning relievers as the Phillies manage the late-season workloads of Ranger Suárez, Noah Syndergaard, and possibly Wheeler.

» READ MORE: ‘I never expected to throw 100′: Inside the reemergence of the Phillies’ Seranthony Domínguez

Darick Hall is the most likely roster addition among position players. Hall lacks versatility (he’s a first baseman and designated hitter) but has left-handed power. In Harper’s absence, he hit nine homers and slugged .550 after getting called up from triple A.

But Hall was an everyday player in the minors, and interim manager Rob Thomson has wondered how he would fare as a pinch-hitter. Besides, with the lineup back to full capacity, and with Harper locked into the DH spot, the Phillies don’t figure to pinch-hit much, except perhaps for the center fielder (Marsh or Matt Vierling).

If the Phillies prefer positionally versatility, Yairo Muñoz may make the most sense. Muñoz, a right-handed hitter, has played second base, third base, left field, and right field this season. But Edmundo Sosa and lefty-hitting Nick Maton have similar versatility; the Phillies don’t have a bat off the bench with Hall’s power.

It’s a testament to the Phillies’ improved depth that they have appealing September options. The midseason additions of Sosa, Marsh, Syndergaard, and David Robertson pushed other players to the fringes of the roster and allowed for more late-season choices.

Eflin will try again

Don’t stick a fork in Zach Eflin just yet.

Eflin hasn’t pitched since June 25 because of patellofemoral pain in his surgically repaired right knee. But he didn’t report any pain after playing catch Saturday, traveled with the Phillies to the West Coast, and may attempt to throw from a bullpen mound this week.

» READ MORE: How the Phillies’ trade deadline moves made the roster deeper, better equipped for playoff push

If Eflin comes back — a big “if,” considering he would need to prove that he could field his position, in addition to being able to push off his right leg in his delivery — he would fill a bullpen role. He hasn’t pitched in relief since the final game of the 2020 season.

Eflin has a 4.37 ERA in 13 starts. He has a $15 million mutual option for next season. It seems unlikely the Phillies would pick up the option considering Eflin has made only 31 starts over the last two seasons.

Extra bases

Center fielder Brandon Marsh fouled a ball off his sore left ankle Saturday night. But his absence from the lineup was planned after he played three consecutive days, including a two-game minor-league assignment. ... Rhys Hoskins got a rest for the first time since June 18. ... Former Phillies third baseman Charlie Hayes threw the ceremonial first pitch to his son, Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. ... Phillies wives are auctioning baskets filled with the favorite items of players, coaches, and team executives to benefit Potter’s House Mission, which assists homeless women with children and social services at large. Bidding ends Monday at noon at ... Suárez (8-5, 3.38 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday night in Arizona against left-hander Madison Bumgarner (6-13, 4.53).