Two Phillies rookies who weren’t even on the active roster two weeks ago are part of their wild-card roster for the opening round of the playoffs against the Marlins.
Michael Lorenzen is not.
Savior Orion Kerkering and cornerback/quarterback Weston Wilson make up the Phils’ 26 active players for a Top 3 with Miami, which starts tonight.
Kerkering showed the Phillies enough in his three starts — in fact, the first game might have been enough — striking out six with two walks in three innings without allowing an earned run. He used his trademark slider a lot, more than 80% of the time, mixing in a few high-velocity fastballs into each outing. The slider has shown the ability to generate swinging hits for hitters on both sides.
We’ll see how high leverage spot manager Rob Thompson chooses if/when he uses the 22-year-old Kerkering in the wild card round. The Phillies have a variety of late-inning options they feel comfortable turning to: Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel, Jeff Hoffman, Ceranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, and Matt Stram. The lack of looks that the Marlins or any other team has in Kerkering could come in handy.
For Kerkering, this is the latest step in a remarkable 2023 journey that began at Single A Clearwater. He continued to work his way to the next level, earning promotions to High A Jersey Shore, Double A Reading, and Triple A Lehigh Valley before joining the Phillies on September 22.
Wilson, 29, also had a career season in the minors that put himself squarely on the Phillies’ radar as an additional right-handed bat. He hit 31 homers and stole 32 bases with Triple A Lehigh Valley, and also reached base in 11 of 22 plate appearances over eight games with the Phillies. It was by far his best season in the minors and he credited him with having a better idea of the strike zone, something he said Triple A’s automatic ball strike system helped with.
Wilson could serve a target in the wild card round with the Marlins roster of several left-handers. Miami’s starters for Game 1 and Game 2 were both lefties, Jesus Luzardo and Braxton Garrett. The four relievers who led them in appearances — Tanner Scott, AJ Book, Stephen Uckert and Andrew Nardi — are all lefties.
There was some belief that Wilson might start games against the Marlins in left field as the Phillies trust their right-handed bats more against left-handers than left-handed slugger Brandon Marsh. The left-handed Wilson hit to the tune of .320/.411/.601 at Triple A, a far cry from the level of pitching he consistently sees in the major leagues. However, it looks like Christian Pasch will start the first game as the Phillies improve the defense. Once that lineup spot appears with a non-lefty on the mound, one can imagine Marsh coming in.
Marsh hit .229/.321/.396 against lefties in 2023 and his last hit was a three-run homer off southpaw Anthony Kaye, but Thompson said over the weekend that he largely didn’t see the ball well from the same. -Pitchers late. Marsh made just 15 appearances against lefties in September, four fewer than Bachey.
Lorenzen’s omission is a slight surprise but the Phillies had the option to include 12 pitchers and 14 position players. During the regular season, teams must carry 13 pitchers. They acquired him from Detroit at the deadline as a starter but had designs on using him as a reliever in October. Lorenzen pitched exclusively out of the bullpen from 2016-2021. His last three appearances this season came out of the bullpen and he pitched four scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Before that, he had a 9.23 ERA in six appearances after not hitting the Nationals.
Here is the Phillies’ 26-man roster against the Marlins:
Masks (2): GT Realmuto, Garrett Stubbs
Players (6): Bryce Harper, Bryson Stott, Trea Turner, Alec Baum, Edmundo Sosa, Weston Wilson
Defense players (6): Nick Castellanos, Johan Rojas, Brandon Marsh, Christian Pasch, Jake Cave, Kyle Schwarber
Jugs (12): Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Christopher Sanchez, Taijuan Walker, Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel, Ceranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, Matt Strahm, Jeff Hoffman, Orion Kerkering.
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