Phillies plan to continue to use six-man rotation to keep arms fresh for postseason run

With Michael Lorenzen's addition to the rotation and extra days off, the Philadelphia Phillies can capitalize on getting their starters extra rest.
Michael Lorenzen, Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Michael Lorenzen, Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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Walker’s velocity a factor

Not to be outdone innings-wise, Taijuan Walker has put in 131.2 innings thus far in 2023. Since June 6, he has made it through at least five innings in 12 straight starts. In five starts from June 6 through June 29, he had a .84 ERA across 32.0 innings. In his seven starts since that stretch, he has a 4.25 ERA in 42.1 innings. 

There's been one very noticeable hiccup in his pitching lately, though. In multiple starts this year, his velocity has been down. 

In his last start, an 8-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, he lost control of his command as well, walking a season-high six batters and hitting another. He also gave up two home runs, marking the first time he gave up multiple homers in a game since a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 1. 

After his start Saturday, Paul Casella of MLB.com relayed what manager Rob Thomson said: "Control is off, command is off, velocity is down. So I think it's time to just give him a little breather."

Walker, for one, appreciates the extra breather, saying, "I know we have a couple off-days coming up, so hopefully I'll get a couple extra days of rest and the velocity picks back up."

According to Casella, his average of 91.2 mph during Saturday’s game was the lowest of his career for the four-seamer.  

His fastball velocity is down 1.5 mph (91.3) compared to last year (92.8), according to Baseball Savant, and 2.9 overall compared to 2021 (94.2).  

Walker and the Phillies coaching staff are hoping the extra rest can help correct his velocity issues and set him up for success down the stretch.