Phillies Injury Updates: When can we expect Taijuan Walker and Orion Kerkering back?

Taijuan Walker is on the mend, and the Phillies are ready to welcome back Orion Kerkering very soon.
Philadelphia Phillies reliever Orion Kerkering is scheduled to return from the IL on April 9
Philadelphia Phillies reliever Orion Kerkering is scheduled to return from the IL on April 9 / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies entered Opening Day last week down a couple of key arms when they placed pitchers Taijuan Walker (right shoulder) and Orion Kerkering (right forearm) on the IL to begin the season.

In the absence of Walker and Kerkering, the Phillies' pitching depth has certainly been challenged to start the 2024 campaign. Free agent signing Spencer Turnbull was placed in the rotation, and a handful of relief pitchers have already been filtered in and out of the Phillies bullpen.

Recent reports suggest that the Phillies could be back to full strength very soon. According to a recent social media post from The Philadelphia Inquirer's Alex Coffey, Taijuan Walker threw live batting practice in the cage earlier this week and is currently ramping up baseball activities. This latest update comes on the heels of a report last week from NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman that Walker had started a pitching program.

The Phillies handed the ball to offseason addition Spencer Turnbull on Tuesday night in the absence of Walker, and the 31-year-old former Detroit Tiger dazzled on the mound in front of a rain-drenched Citizens Bank Park crowd. Turnbull tossed five innings, allowing just a single unearned run, while allowing no walks, only three hits and striking out seven.

Turnbull's magnificent performance gives the Phillies room to bring Walker along slowly as he continues to rehab, and it will be interesting to see what type of role the team envisions for Turnbull in the long run.

Phillies' top relief prospect Orion Kerkering is nearing a return

Recent news about phenom Orion Kerkering's rehab at the minor league level continues to be promising. The 23-year-old was well behind other pitchers in spring training following a prolonged bout with the flu, so the Phillies placed Kerkering on the IL with a right forearm strain to give him time to ramp up and face hitters at the minor league level.

According to a social media post from Corey Seidman, the young right-handed pitcher has progressed to facing hitters in Triple-A, with early indications pointing to Kerkering being on schedule to return when his IL stint expires early next week.

A more recent report from Destiny Lugardo of Phillies Nation indicates that Kerkering pitched in an intrasquad game in Clearwater on Tuesday. The Phillies switched the reliever's originally scheduled appearance in Triple-A against Rochester due to inclement weather. He threw 15 pitches in a scoreless inning in his outing.

With April 9 as his target return date, the Phillies could really use Kerkering back in the bullpen soon. The recent workload on a number of arms has already caused manager Rob Thomson to make some interesting decisions with his relief corps.

Following the epic bullpen meltdown that cost the Phillies an Opening Day victory over the Atlanta Braves, a shambolic appearance by Connor Brogdon only compounded the early season troubles when he gave up a grand slam in the 10th inning of Monday's game against the Reds that cost the team a win. Brogdon was subsequently DFA'd prior to Tuesday's game to make room for Ricardo Pinto.