Final week of the Phillies’ season could have huge bullpen implications

Phillies Michael Lorenzen
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Michael Lorenzen, left, and J.T. Realmuto celebrate after Lorenzen’s no-hitter during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

After sweeping the New York Mets in a 4-game series, things are looking up for the Philadelphia Phillies. Their magic number sits at 1 while the team waits for the Pirates to come to town.

So, what now?

The Phillies have a unique bullpen situation

While the Phillies still need to secure the top Wild Card spot, the season’s final week could be an audition of sorts. In 2022, the Phillies carried 13 pitchers into the Wild Card round against the Cardinals. The 2023 Phillies bullpen is nowhere near set in stone for the postseason.

We just saw the debut of Orion Kerkering on Sunday. Kerkering started the season in Single-A Clearwater and preceded to jump 4 levels in a single year. At those 4 levels, Orion had his belt cinched around the competition, allowing just 9 ER in 53.2 IP.

Kerkering has the stuff to match his 2023 minors’ performance. In his debut, he flashed his 100 MPH sinker just twice. That’s because he also features a slider that he isn’t afraid to throw for strikes. He struck out 2 in his debut.

If he continues to show elite stuff in the final week, he could have a role in the postseason.

What about Mr No-Hitter?

Michael Lorenzen continues to be a question mark since his no-hitter. However, he recorded the save on Sunday and looked good doing it. This was the first outing in which Lorenzen didn’t allow multiple runs since the no-no. Before this outing, he had allowed 27 ER in 26.1 IP.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Michael Lorenzen pitches during the second inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Since his stuff is more on the average side, Lorenzen will need to have a good week to even hope to crack the postseason roster.

That’s mainly because of the emergence of Cristopher Sánchez. Sánchez has a 3.48 ERA in 98.1 IP in 2023. His changeup looked deadly on Sunday, helping to mow down 10 Mets on strikes. If the Phillies were to play in a 7-game playoff series, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Sánchez get a start. He’s solidified his spot in the rotation.

Some movement in the pen

Jeff Hoffman has emerged as the Phillies 2nd best righty out of the pen behind Craig Kimbrel. His 2.52 ERA and 12.1 K/9 have given him a breakout season with the Phillies.

Hoffman should continue to be used in high-leverage situations. If he continues to succeed in those situations, expect Rob Thomson to use him heavily in the postseason. He’s pushed Seranthony Dominguez down the pecking order.

Speaking of Seranthony, his role in the pen is currently a big question mark. His ERA is just a hair below 4 and his FIP (4.93) says he should be doing even worse. He’ll have a lot to prove heading through the final week of the regular season.