Phillies Playoffs

Phillies wild-card roster includes multiple rookies, no Lorenzen

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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.

Reliever Orion Kerkering and corner outfielder/infielder Weston Wilson made the Phils' group of 26 active players for the Best-of-3 with Miami, which begins tonight.

Kerkering showed the Phillies enough in his three appearances — really, the first one might have been enough — striking out six with two walks in three innings without allowing an earned run. He's used his trademark slider a ton, more than 80% of the time, mixing in a few high-90s fastballs per outing. The slider has shown an ability to generate swinging strikes of hitters from both sides.

We will see just how high a leverage spot manager Rob Thomson chooses if/when he uses the 22-year-old Kerkering in the wild-card round. The Phillies have an assortment of late-inning options they feel comfortable turning to: Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel, Jeff Hoffman, Seranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, Matt Strahm. The lack of looks the Marlins or any other team has had of Kerkering could be a benefit.

For Kerkering, it is the latest step of a remarkable 2023 journey that began in Single A Clearwater. He kept pitching 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 extra right-handed bat. He hit 31 homers and stole 32 bases with Triple A Lehigh Valley, also reaching 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 it to having a better idea of the strike zone, something he said the Automatic Ball-Strike system at Triple A helped with.

Wilson could serve a purpose in the wild-card round with the Marlins rostering so many left-handers. Miami's starters in Game 1 and Game 2 are both lefties, Jesus Luzardo and Braxton Garrett. The four relievers who led them in appearances — Tanner Scott, A.J. Puk, Steven Okert and Andrew Nardi — are all lefties.

There was some thought that Wilson might even start the games against the Marlins in left field with the Phillies trusting their right-handed bats against lefties more than left-handed-hitting Brandon Marsh. Wilson hit lefties to the tune of .320/.411/.601 at Triple A, which is obviously a far cry from the caliber of pitching he'd see consistently in the majors. It seems, however, that Cristian Pache will start Game 1 as the Phillies optimize for defense. Once that lineup spot comes up with a non-lefty on the mound, one would figure Marsh will enter.

Marsh hit .229/.321/.396 against lefties in 2023 and his final at-bat was a three-run homer off southpaw Anthony Kay, but Thomson said over the weekend that he largely hasn't been seeing the ball well from same-handed pitchers of late. Marsh had just 15 plate appearances against lefties in September, four fewer than Pache.

Lorenzen's omission is a slight surprise but the Phillies had the choice of rostering 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 starting pitcher but had designs of using him as a reliever in October. Lorenzen pitched exclusively out of the bullpen from 2016-21. His final three appearances this season came out of the 'pen and he pitched four scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Prior to that, he had a 9.23 ERA in six games after no-hitting the Nationals.

Here is the Phillies' 26-man roster against the Marlins:

Catchers (2): J.T. Realmuto, Garrett Stubbs

Infielders (6): Bryce Harper, Bryson Stott, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm, Edmundo Sosa, Weston Wilson

Outfielders (6): Nick Castellanos, Johan Rojas, Brandon Marsh, Cristian Pache, Jake Cave, Kyle Schwarber

Pitchers (12): Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Cristopher Sanchez, Taijuan Walker, Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel, Seranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, Matt Strahm, Jeff Hoffman, Orion Kerkering

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