Predicting the Phillies’ 2016 Opening Day roster

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As the Philadelphia Phillies draw closer to breaking camp, and prepare to start the season in Cincinnati, tough decisions lay ahead. The organization has already begun to trim the roster, and have sent players such as J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro to the minors, but questions still linger before Opening Day. Here is a look at what Philadelphia’s 25-man roster might look like on April 4:

Starting pitchers: Aaron Nola, Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Jerad Eickhoff, and Adam Morgan.

In large part, the Phillies’ starting rotation has been settled. While Nola, and Eickoff continue to develop, Philadelphia will look to Hellickson, and Morton, the staff’s two veterans, to eat up innings. The one real battle is for the fifth spot. On one hand, you have Vincent Velasquez, the prize acquisition of the Ken Giles trade. On the other hand, you have Adam Morgan, who gave Philadelphia good innings in 2015. While many fans will want to see Velasquez, because of his electric arm, Morgan should get the spot, as Velasquez still needs work on his command, and the team needs a left-hander in the rotation.

Infielders and catchers: Ryan Howard, Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Darin Ruf, Carlos Ruiz, Cameron Rupp, Cesar Hernandez, and Andres Blanco.

Barring an unforeseen trade, or injury, this decision should be fairly easy for Pete Mackinin. While players like Galvis and Rupp are just placeholders for prospects like Crawford and Alfaro, they are the more polished talent as it stands. It would not be a surprise to see Ryan Howard traded at the deadline, or Crawford and Alfaro supplant Galvis and Rupp when rosters expand, but for now this is the right group.

Outfielders: Odubel Herrera, Peter Bourjos, Tyler Goeddel, and David Lough.

Philadelphia’s outfield situation got much more complicated when Aaron Altherr went down for 4-6 months with a left wrist injury. While Herrera, Bourjos, and Goeddel have essentially been locks for months, Altherr’s presence would have allowed Goeddel to develop at a more natural pace. Now, Goeddel has been thrust into a starting role, and the Phillies lack legitimate options at the fourth outfield spot. While it is possible that Philadelphia could add a veteran bat to fill that role, as ESPN’s Jayston Stark reported, right now their best option is Lough. The veteran outfielder has hit .308 with four RBIs and a .438 OBP while Cody Asche continues to deal with an oblique injury.

Relievers: David Hernandez, Andrew Bailey, Edward Mujica, Dalier Hinojosa, Bobby LaFromboise, James Russell, and Brett Oberholtzer.

Matt Klentak’s affinity for redemption stories may benefit Philadelphia for years to come. This spring, Bailey and Mujica, who were relatively forgotten men, have combined to allow one run and three hits in eight games. Along with Hernandez, they form a solid a group in the back of the bullpen. Beyond that, the Phillies will likely use Hinojosa, LaFromboise, and Russell in the middle innings, while Oberholtzer works in long relief.

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