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April 18, 2019

Can the Phillies withstand injuries to position players?

Phillies have a depth problem when it comes to useful bats

The Phillies and Sixers have a lot in common this year.

Both are squads assembled with part homegrown, and part mercenary talent. And both have incredibly talented starting line ups with a lacking in depth behind it.

The Phils have already caught a bit of the injury bug in their pitching staff, as David Robertson sits on the DL. They have the 40-man roster depth to fill in the holes and perhaps get better by bringing up some minor league talent. Jerad Eickhoff earned a roster spot in place of Nick Pivetta earlier this week, and several bullpen shuffles have already reshaped the roster subtly.

When it comes to the team's offense, however, there is a little less depth and stability. Jean Segura is nursing a minor hamstring injury and as a result the team added a position player, Phil Gosselin, to help out in case Segura misses serious time.

In spring training, the Phils averted disaster when Bryce Harper was hit with a pitch on his ankle. A few days ago, Rhys Hoskins also narrowly averted an ankle injury. 

The Phillies line up, as constituted, is potent and talented and has the firepower to lead Philadelphia to the postseason. Philly has the fifth best on base percentage and has scored the sixth most runs this season. But aside from Scott Kingery (hitting .480 in 12 games played), the bench has been a huge detriment. 

 Aaron Altherr.056.056
 Nick Williams.214.267
 Andrew Knapp.133.235

The above trio has had 15 plate appearances or more apiece. It is hard to step in every few days, or to pinch hit cold off the bench in major league baseball. It's also a very small sample size. However, there is likely little confidence should one of these three need to step in as an every day player due to an injury.

There are a few other options the team can make if someone gets hurt. The Phils can make a minor move, like claiming a waiver wire player like Blake Swihart to play catcher. They also have a few players on the 40-man roster currently who play key positions:

Mitch Walding is on the 40-man, but is struggling in Triple-A, hitting .214 while starting at third base.

Arquimedes Gamboa, a 21-year-old shortstop prospect who holds a 40-man roster spot has also been dreadful with the bat through nine games, hitting .086 so far.

Dylan Cozens, who has played a little in the bigs, is likely the next man up. He plays outfield and first base and has hit four homers in his first 13 games in Lehigh Valley. However, he is also off to a slow start hitting just .178.

Roman Quinn is nearing full health after getting injured this spring. In seven rehab starts he has hit .340. He remains on the DL but could be brought up soon.

That's it. 

With Gosselin included, the Phillies only have five additional bats on the 40-man roster. The Phillies, of course, can add someone to this list at any time, but doing so would require them to take someone off — exposing them to waivers. 

A healthy squad can get by with a thin base of position players. But if a major player has to miss significant time, the drop off could be substantial. 

Don't be surprised if the Phillies, who are expected to address their pitching staff prior to the trade deadline, also make some kind of move to bolster their bench depth as the season continues on.

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