Phillies bullpen power rankings going into the 2024 season

Who takes the top spot in our power rankings of Phillies relief pitchers for the upcoming season?

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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No. 6: Orion Kerkering

He's only 22 and began last year with the Clearwater Threshers in Single-A; however, Orion Kerkering proved he is ready for the majors. He is one of the more exciting players on the roster to watch as he continues to develop in 2024.

He had success in his three appearances with the Phillies at the end of the regular season. Kerkering did fairly well against the Miami Marlins in a Wild Card game and two appearances against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Divisional Series. He struggled in the NLCS versus the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing two earned runs, five hits, and two walks in 1 1/3 innings over three games during the series.

He relies on two pitches - a sweeper and a sinker. A sweeper is a newer pitch thrown slower than a slider, which gives it more time to "sweep" across the strike zone, according to MLB.com's glossary.

Kerkering has three minor league options remaining, so the Phillies can send him down without having to clear waivers during the year if he struggles. The organization may decide that is what is best for his continued development if he struggles during spring training or at any time during the regular season.

Manager Rob Thomson explained his feelings on the youngster this offseason, per MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.

“He’s way up on my list as far as his talent level and where he stands in that bullpen,” Thomson said.

The team needs to limit the number of times he is called up and sent back down between the majors and minors to avoid affecting his confidence. Kerkering has the potential to be used in the eighth or ninth inning down the line for the Phillies, particularly regularly beginning in 2025 or 2026.