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January 13, 2023

Phillies 2023 Opening Day 26-man roster projection, 2.0

It's been a few weeks since we made our last roster projection for the Phillies in 2023, and the front office decided it wanted to mix things up — prompting us to take another stab at predicting what the defending NL Pennant winners will look like come the spring.

Dave Dombrowski and company decided that having a bullpen with depth and upside was more important than retaining their unproven versatile bench pieces, which is why Nick Maton and Matt Vierling are no longer on the team (and are obviously not on this projection).

So what will the pen makeup be? And how will the bench shake out?

Here's how we now see the 26-man roster breaking down for the 2023 Phillies:

Catchers (2)

J.T. Realmuto, Garrett Stubbs

No changes here, as the best catcher in baseball will return and be backed up by Stubbs, who was a very solid all-around backstop in limited opportunities last season.

Infielders (6)

Rhys Hoskins, Bryson Stott, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm, Edmundo Sosa, Darick Hall

In our original projection, we included Maton and Vierling as outfielders (even though each can play all over the field). The group of six infielders we think will make the 26-man roster hasn't changes since then, but we can now more confidently endorse Hall's candidacy to make the team and play a lot in the DH spot while Bryce Harper recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Outfielders (5)

Nick Castellanos, Brandon Marsh, Kyle Schwarber, Dalton Guthrie, Josh Harrison (free agent)

We know who the starting three will be until Harper's return. Guthrie is a 27-year-old journeyman who made his MLB debut last year and hit .333 in 28 games during limited time on the big league roster. He spent 12 of those games in the outfield but can also play second and third, and he is the leader in the clubhouse for a homegrown, versatile player earning a job on the club in spring training.

We've added Josh Harrison here — one of the 10 free agent fits we wrote about recently — due to the fact that he is a veteran with playoff experience, and at age 35 might be open to a one-year utility role with the Phils. He, too, can play both in the outfield and infield. It seems to reason that the team will add a right-handed hitter to the bench in some capacity from free agency.

Starting pitchers (5)

Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Taijuan Walker, Ranger Suárez, Andrew Painter

We're not making any changes here. We still whole-heartedly believe that Painter breaks camp with the Phillies. He's gotten buzz as being big league ready after his incredible showing in the minors last year, and he will have competition from fellow youngsters Mick Abel, Griff McGarry and others. The fight for the fifth starter spot will be one of two spring training battles to watch (along with the bench). Painter is the most talented arm of the three and the Phillies will want to bring the best five guys with them to South Philly.

Don't be surprised if the Phillies do go with a sixth starter at times. That man could be Bailey Falter, who filled in admirably as a spot starter often last season. One of the biggest criticisms you can make of the 2022 World Series roster was its lack of starting pitching depth and the fatigue that plagued the entire staff when November arrived. The team will do whatever it can to avoid that in 2023, and keeping their arms fresh will be a priority. More than five starters will take the mound — regardless of injuries — as the team looks to be able to have them all go deep into games next postseason.

Relief pitchers (8)

Seranthony Domínguez, José Alvarado*, Matt Strahm*, Andrew Bellatti, Bailey Falter*, Connor Brogdon, Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto*

Is the bullpen set in stone? The Phillies signed Kimbrel, who'll help the Phillies close by committee, and traded Vierling and Maton for Soto, and those two veterans sort of wrap up what the eight-man unit looks like. Notice the four lefties.* Perhaps Falter will be held in the minors as a starter, opening up a spot for someone in spring training?

Regardless, this is a very different looking bullpen than the one that narrowly lost in the World Series a few months ago:

World Series2023 Projection
Nick NelsonStrahm
Brad HandKimbrel
David RobertsonSoto
Zach EflinFalter

It looks like there will be at least a 50% turnover.

Injured list (1)

Bryce Harper

Harper's Tommy John surgery will have him sidelined for a few months. When he returns he's expected to DH for a bit until he's fully healthy and can play right field at the tail end of the regular season.

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