NEW YORK — Rob Thomson said Sunday that it felt like it had been a month since the Phillies clinched their spot in the playoffs.
It had been just five days, but those have been five long days as Thomson has mixed and matched to cover innings in the final handful of regular-season games. The Phillies' front office plucked from their depth at Triple A in the final series at Citi Field, calling up reliever Luis Ortiz for Game 160, Michael Plassmeyer to start Game 161 and Nick Nelson to pitch bulk innings behind opener Matt Strahm in Game 162.
Thomson's focus has been keeping players healthy while also getting them enough reps to stay sharp for the wild-card round, which begins Tuesday. The Phillies are one win away from reaching 90 but he wasn't going to prioritize that over having the team in the best possible shape for the postseason.
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"I'd love to get to 90 wins. It's a nice, round number and I don't think it's happened around here in a long time," he said Sunday. "But as long as the players are healthy, I'm good with that. The health of the players means more."
Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suarez made abbreviated starts this week as the final tune-up before the playoffs. Taijuan Walker emptied the tank Saturday afternoon because the Phillies needed length in Game 1 of their doubleheader against the Mets.
Wheeler will start Game 1 of the wild-card series Tuesday. Aaron Nola will start Game 2 Wednesday. If there is a Game 3, Ranger Suarez seems likely to start a must-win that could involve most of the bullpen.
Thomson used five relievers in Saturday's nightcap — Jeff Hoffman, Orion Kerkering, Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel and Cristopher Sanchez — and none will pitch Sunday. After Strahm and Nelson on Sunday, the Phillies plan to use Gregory Soto, Seranthony Dominguez and Michael Lorenzen. They wanted to get everyone an appearance to avoid a long layoff before the wild-card series.
"It has, it really has," Thomson said when asked if it's felt like an eternity since the Phillies claimed the 4-seed in the National League. "You're sitting on your hands the whole time just hoping nothing terrible happens to your players. It just seems like a month since we've clinched. We've had to do a lot of planning for health reasons and then you do all this planning and you're still sitting there. It's concerning, it really is."
One thing he isn't concerned about is the Phillies being unable to flip a switch once Tuesday arrives.
"They get in front of 40,000 screaming people that are a little bit inebriated," Thomson said, "and the energy level tends to go up."