How Should the Phillies Strategize Their Starting Rotation Ahead of 2023 Wild Card Series

Phillies Zack wheeler
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) aims a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Friday, July 7, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

With the Philadelphia Phillies clinching the top Wild Card seed in the 2023 Post-Season, they now have to set up their starting rotation.

The roster will shrink back from 28 to 26 players, so the Phillies will have fewer weapons at their disposal heading into Tuesday’s game.

For the Phillies, manager Rob Thomson has already announced that Zack Wheeler will start Game 1 of the Wild Card Series and Aaron Nola will start in Game 2.

How Topper manages the rest of the starting rotation remains to be seen, but his moves over the next couple of days could provide insight into what he is thinking.

Phillies Zack Wheeler
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler throws during the first inning in Game 5 of the baseball NL Championship Series between the San Diego Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

Last season, the Phillies relied heavily on Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola to get them through the playoffs.

Both guys pitched really well for the Phils, and without them, the team would not have reached the World Series.

Rob Thomson knows the level of talent that both pitchers possess. But what is up in the air is how is going to use the rest of his starting rotation.

Taijaun Walker, Ranger Suarez, Cristopher Sanchez, and Michael Lorenzen have all been competing for the chance to be the third and fourth starter in the playoff lineup.

Walker leads the team in wins, Suarez pitched great in the 2022 post-season, Sanchez has been the most consistent of this group, and Lorenzen threw a no-hitter in his second start with the team.

Aside from these positives, many of the starts from this crew have been shaky at best. Luckily the Phillies’ bats have come alive in the second half of the season, or else they may not be sitting in this position.

Thoughts vs Reality


If I were the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, the following would be my 4 man rotation for the post-season.

1. Zack Wheeler2. Aaron Nola3. Ranger Suarez4. Cristopher Sanchez

Wheeler and Nola are the obvious 1-2 punch. Ranger has had a rough 2023 campaign, but I trust his track record and his ability to shine in the biggest of moments.

Cristopher Sanchez would be my 4th starter, and his performance across the 2023 season has been stellar. He took over the fifth spot in the rotation and was able to fill a black hole. The 5 spot was a guaranteed loss before he arrived, and I think that he has gone above and beyond what he was asked to do.

In my scenario, Taijaun Walker and Michael Lorenzen would join the bullpen for the post-season run.


In reality, I am not the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

That honor goes to Rob Thomson and he has done a tremendous job at it.

Topper is 154-116 in regular season games as the Phillies’ skipper. He ended the team’s playoff drought and he took them to the World Series for the first time since 2009.

I trust Rob Thomson and even though this is not what I would do, I expect the following to be his starting rotation next week.

1. Zack Wheeler2. Aaron Nola3. Ranger Suarez4. Taijuan Walker

Wheeler, Nola, and Suarez are the Top 3 for Thomson and we both agree on that.

Phillies Taijuan Walker
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Taijuan Walker delivers during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, June 29, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Where I think we will differ is the final spot. I believe that Taijuan Walker is going to get the last starting spot in the starting rotation.

The Phillies paid a lot of money to bring Walker to Philly and he still has 3 years after this on his deal.

While Taijuan has not been stellar this season, I can see Thomson giving him the ball this October.

Taijuan Walker is a veteran in this game and Rob Thomson is going to rely on him to get big outs.