When the Philadelphia Phillies acquired right-handed pitcher Michael Lorenzen at the trade deadline they wanted starting pitching depth. Lorenzen is versatile because he has both starting experience and has pitched in relief over the course of his career. Despite some recent struggles, the Phillies are not yet concerned about the pitcher's value to the club.
The right-hander's first two starts in a Phillies uniform really could not have gone better. In Lorenzen's first game with the club he pitched eight innings allowing just two earned runs. Not a bad debut with a new team. Lorenzen, however, followed up his first start with an even more impressive second start— this time in front of his new home crowd. Every Phillies fan knows how that game went. Lorenzen pitched the 14th no-hitter in Phillies history in a 7-0 victory against the Washington Nationals.
Since the no-hitter the right-hander has come back down to earth. He has struggled in his last two starts. In his start immediately following his historical outing, Lorenzen allowed seven runs— six of which were earned— in just 3 1/3 innings. The right-hander's most recent outing— while not as bad— was subpar as he allowed four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. More troubling in that outing was the number of base runners he allowed. Lorenzen walked three batters and surrendered eight hits.
Rob Thomson was asked about his level of concern regarding his new pitcher after Wednesday night's loss to the San Francisco Giants. He expressed that he was not concerned about Lorenzen at this point:
"It could be [surpassing his career high for innings pitched], but he’s big and strong and really takes care of his body. So I’m not really concerned about him."- via Paul Hagen/ NBCSports Philadelphia
Lorenzen is very athletic and is in great shape, but many pitchers often struggle when handed a heavier workload than they are accustomed to. He has not thrown over 100 innings since 2015— his rookie season. He was used mainly as a relief pitcher from 2016-2021. To this point in the season, Lorenzen has thrown 131 2/3 innings which by far surpasses his inning totals from the previous seven seasons.
The Phillies experienced a similar situation with Matt Strahm earlier this season. Strahm began the year in the Phillies' rotation but was moved to a relief role presumably to limit his innings as he had not thrown more than 100 innings since 2019 and has been used as a reliever the previous three seasons.
It is important to note that Lorenzen sports a 4.02 career ERA. In his short time with the Phillies, he has a 4.15 ERA. It is fair to say that Lorenzen's actual potential is somewhere in between his very good and very poor outings. If he can eat innings and keep his club in the game, the Phillies will be happy with their return in the trade.
While Thomson may not be concerned right now, the Phillies may have to investigate limiting Lorenzen's innings if they want him to be an effective pitcher in September and October. It seems that for now the right-hander will not miss any starts or be relegated to a bullpen role. As the club makes a run at another postseason berth there have been a multitude of questions about who would start in a playoff series. Lorenzen's versatility gives the club options should they need him in multiple roles.