With the MLB gearing up for the start of the 2020 season, baseball fans have
reason to be hopeful for the first time since the pandemic began. With an abbreviated season and a long layoff since last year, fans across the nation have every right to expect their squads to compete for a title, and this is no different here in Philadelphia. Big off-season additions and bounce-back years from a few key players could lead to a deep playoff run in 2020. It could certainly be argued that the Phillies are one of the teams with the most to gain from an abbreviated season, seeing as how they were hot starters in past years. There’s certainly optimism, other than the recent Phillies additions to the COVID-19 injured list.
Joe Girardi’s squad may have already hit their first speed bump with multiple players headed to the COVID-19 injured list. In recent days, the Phillies have placed four players on the COVID-19 injured list. This includes Scott Kingery, relief pitcher Tommy Hunter, Hector Neris, and swing-man Ranger Suarez. This does not necessarily mean that all of these players, or any for that matter, have actually contracted the virus, but it could mean they were at least at some risk.
A positive test is not the only way for a player to wind up on this list, as merely showing symptoms that are in keeping with the virus, as well as being exposed to another individual who has tested positive can be grounds for placement on the COVID-19 injured list.
The best case scenario, of course, is that all four test negative for the virus, and that this
has all been simply a case of the team acting cautiously. However, losing any of these four players for an extended period of time would be a significant blow to the team. Kingery is currently slated to play the same super utility role as last year,
providing decent offensive production to go with terrific glove-work while playing all over the diamond. His absence would leave Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley as the sole center fielders on the roster, which could lead to complications if neither one finds his footing.
Losing Hunter would be a bit more manageable, as injuries have taken a toll on the 34-year-old in recent years. I was hopeful that he could return to form and still am.
As for Neris testing positive, this would be a crippling blow to an already suspect bullpen, as he turned in a terrific bounce-back campaign last season. He’s being counted on to anchor the ninth inning in 2020.
Suarez is a bit more of a wildcard than the other three, as the 24-year-old left-hander was never the most highly touted prospect coming up, but he turned in a tidy 3.14 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over 48.2 innings in relief last season. Lacking overpowering strikeout stuff, Suarez isn’t likely to become an ace anytime soon, but he can keep the ball on the ground and looks to be an important depth piece this year, if healthy.
In short, these are four impact players to say the least.
While the news would likely receive significantly more coverage if a star like Bryce
Harper or J.T. Realmuto were affected by COVID-19, the loss of any of these four players could prove to be very costly for the Phillies. In order to compete in this incredibly unpredictable season, health will be the most important factor, and if the Phillies see any more players get affected by the virus, their season might be over before it even begins.