Phillies fans are already furious about rehabbing starter's return to the rotation

Taijuan Walker hasn't even thrown a pitch yet, and fans are not happy.
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Taijuan Walker will return to the rotation this weekend
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Taijuan Walker will return to the rotation this weekend / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Taijuan Walker has not appeared this year for the Philadelphia Phillies due to a right shoulder impingement. He has made three rehab starts in 2024 — one in Single-A with the Clearwater Threshers and two in Triple-A with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Spencer Turnbull, signed during the offseason to be a long reliever and starter in case of injury, has done very well filling in for the injured Walker. After Wednesday's start against the Cincinnati Reds, he has a 1.33 ERA — the second-lowest among qualified NL pitchers — and a 2-0 record in five starts. He has a 0.85 WHIP, 30 strikeouts and has allowed four earned runs in 27 innings.

Phillies fans are not happy with the club's decision to put him in the bullpen in favor of Walker, who has struggled with his velocity during his rehab outings.

Phillies fans are already furious about Walker's return to the rotation

Following the news from's Todd Zolecki that Turnbull would be moved to the bullpen with Walker making his first start of the year on Sunday, April 28, versus the San Diego Padres, fans did not curb their frustrations. Plenty expressed their reactions to the news on X (formerly known as Twitter) in response to Zolecki's post.

There was a mountain of hilariously adverse reactions to the news; here are some of the best we saw.

User Robert Snyder (@RobbieBuckets) thinks Turnbull deserves to keep his spot in the rotation and that the Phillies should consider using a six-man rotation to keep him as a starter. To Snyder's point, the right-hander has done everything right to warrant consideration to remain in the rotation, even though it was unlikely to happen.

User Beyond The Bank: Phillies Podcast (@BeyondTheBank) has an emphatic response that the Phillies are making the wrong decision in starting Walker in place of Turnbull, who excelled for the team in the early part of the season.

Jon Lach (@JonLachOfficial) questions the Phillies' decision-making to replace a starter who has been exceptional with another whose velocity has been dipping during his rehab starts with the IronPigs.

Ignoring the obvious spelling mistakes, Jon calls the move "brutal" and an "absolute joke."

While Kyle Stivala (@kylestivala1919) writes that the Phillies would be better off keeping Walker on the IL until his contract is up, unfortunately for fans who are opposed to the move of putting him back into the rotation, the 31-year-old is under contract until the end of the 2026 season.

Finally, user Hugh Arkinson (@hugh_arkinson) writes that Walker isn't healthy enough to return with the reduced velocity. Hugh is also doubtful that the Shreveport, Louisiana native will last five innings in his debut.

Phillies are paying Walker to be a starter

Walker is in the second year of a four-year, $72 million contract. The Phillies organization would not want an expensive contract moved to the bullpen in favor of Turnbull, who agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal in the offseason.

It's understandable why manager Rob Thomson would make this decision during the six-month regular season. The postseason is a more crucial and much shorter period, three weeks to a month, where tough decisions need to be made by a manager. He elected not to play Walker at all during last year's playoffs — a choice that understandably didn't sit well with the pitcher.

Phillies fans will continue to express their dismay with the decision, especially if Walker struggles during his first few starts. While the MLB season is long, there is no question that Turnbull has exceeded expectations for Philadelphia during the first month of 2024.