2024 Phillies Player Spotlight: The Bench

With the 2024 MLB season bearing down on us. We here at EOP will spotlight a Phillies player every week until the start of the 2024 season. We will highlight their 2023 season, strengths, weaknesses, and 2024 projections. This week we will highlight the bench.      

2023 Season

With 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth in game 7 of the NLCS with the season on the line the Phillies turned to their bench to preserve the season. The result was a lazy fly ball down the right field line by Jake Cave season over. That play was a snapshot of the Phillies bench in 2023 with no real options, no real hitters, and a lazy out.

A Major League Baseball season is a long, six-month, 162-game grind. Between the first pitch on Opening Day and the last out of the regular season, teams need more than the best players on their rosters to contribute to the club and remain competitive all year long. That is where the guys on the bench come into play.

Bench players have a vital role for big league teams. They step in when everyday players are either injured or need a day off. Sometimes they step into games as a defensive replacement in the later innings or — as a season develops — they take on a platoon role with another player.

I realize the days of the “professional” pinch hitter are long over since both leagues employ the DH but maintaining viable offensive and defensive options remains and the 2023 Phillies did not do that well at all.  

Strengths

Defense plain and simple was the lone strength of the bench in 2023. Stubbs provided a more than serviceable option as a backup catcher. Sosa was key in defensive infield versatility; Pache was a roamer in the outfield and Cave provided better-than-average corner outfield coverage.

Cherry Injury Law Square Ad

Weakness

Where they struggled was offensive except for Stubbs (and please let me be careful about this). Philadelphia spent much of the season with a bench that consisted of players like Garrett Stubbs, Cristian Pache, Edmundo Sosa, Jake Cave, and Josh Harrison. That is not good enough. There’s no bat there that any pitcher would sweat facing.

The season ended with Jake Cave coming off the bench to pinch-hit for Cristian Pache, who had pinch-hit earlier for Johan Rojas. It’s not the only reason they lost and there’s no way we could know how things would’ve gone had they acquired a legitimate bench bat, but adding more depth and making this team deeper should’ve been a priority for Dave Dombrowski.

2024 Projection

Stubbs will be Realmuto’s backup. Rafael Marchán is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster, but he is sidelined with a back injury. Phillies manager Rob Thomson has been impressed with Aramis Garcia’s play early in camp. The non-roster invitee has played 116 games over four seasons in the big leagues with the Giants, A’s, and Reds.

The Phillies might want a left-handed hitter to give them a late-inning option for Rojas, etc. Cave, who is out of options, could be that guy. But Cristian Pache, who also is out of options, is a great defender. He could fit, even though he hits right-handed.

The Phillies signed Merrifield to a one-year, 8-million-dollar contract to bolster the bench, providing them much-needed insurance if Rojas needs seasoning in Triple-A, or if there is an injury. Sosa is an above-average defender who can play all around the infield. He is out of options. Other bench candidates on the 40-man roster include Rodolfo Castro, Kody Clemens, Darick Hall, and Weston Wilson. David Dahl remains a wild card but could become huge with a good spring.

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.

Previous

Next