It will be a surreal MLB season for sure. One oddity will be the National League using a designated hitter for every game. During a Zoom call with Philly media on Monday, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak addressed that oddity of who will DH for the team in 2020.
Klentak said the Phils are “probably going to rotate guys in and out” of the DH slot. He also said regulars like Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto could DH to get “off their feet and still keep their bats in the lineup.”
Here’s a look at the Phillies DH candidates for the 2020 season:
Klentak called Bruce “an excellent candidate” to DH, and we can see why. Bruce ticks off all the boxes for a classic DH. He’s old-ish (33). He’s slow in the outfield. But the guy can still launch. Bruce appeared in 98 games for the Mariners and Phillies last season and slashed .216/.261/.523 with 26 homers in 333 at-bats. Elbow issues derailed his sizzling start in Philly and limited him to a pinch-hit role late in the year. This season, Bruce almost certainly will DH against right-handed starters.
McCutchen is a prime candidate to DH from time to time in 2020. Such a role would give his knee a rest after a torn ACL ended his season last year in early June.
McCutchen came into Spring Training limping a little and likely would have started the season on the IL, but now Klentak said Cutch is “100 percent.” And like Bruce, McCutchen, 33, is no youngster and would likely benefit from DH-ing from time to time.
Originally, it was thought Bohm, the team’s mega-hyped prospect, would start the season in Triple-A. But now, with no minor-league ball this year, Bohm is cemented on the big league roster. Bohm, a third baseman, may get some DH at-bat because Scott Kingery, who has a superb glove, is slated to play third. “I think the fact that Bohm is on this roster is also reflective of the fact that we are hopeful that he’ll be able to contribute for us this year,” Klentak. And a spot Bohm could contribute is in a DH role. One thing to note: Bohm is an adequate, not spectacular, defender at third, and some scouts believe Bohm’s future is at first base, so DH-ing will not limit his growth in the field if he’ll be moving to across the diamond anyway.
Quinn, an electric centerfielder who just can’t stay healthy, may benefit from a DH opportunity in which he could focus on staying loose and limber for his at-bats and not worry about tweaking a calf or hamstring tracking down a fly ball. Plus, the Phils already have an above-average centerfielder in Adam Haseley.
If the Phillies end up carrying three catchers with this season’s expanded rosters, there’s a good chance Realmuto’s potent bat will end up in the DH slot at least once a week.
Others who could see a DH opportunities are veterans Neil Walker and Josh Harrison. Neither, though, have seen much time DH-ing in the past, and the team signed both players in the offseason because of their versatility in the field.