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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Lorenzen and Sánchez are making strong cases to keep the rotation expanded

On Aug. 1, Philadelphia made a trade, bringing Michael Lorenzen from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for minor leaguer Hao-Yu Lee. Since then? Lorenzen has endeared himself to Philly fans, going 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA, .107 batting average against and 10 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched. 

Oh, and his second start on August 9? The 31-year-old threw the team’s 14th no-hitter in franchise history, in his first start in front of the home crowd at Citizens Bank Park. 

Over his last six starts, Lorenzen has a 1.11 ERA, a .143 batting average against and has only given up one home run in 40.1 innings. The right-hander, who threw a career-high 124 pitches in the no-hitter, will have eight days of rest before he takes the mound again — against the same Washington Nationals he no-hit last time out. 

After the no-hitter, according to the Associated Press, Lorenzen acknowledged that his arm hurt "10 percent more so" after the increased pitch count. He went on to say: "But the eight days [off] will help a little bit. Trying to ease back in a routine before my next start should help."

The right-hander has worked hard to prove he can be a starter after spending multiple seasons as a reliever out of the bullpen. Already in 2023, Lorenzen has logged 122.2 innings. His previous career high in the majors was 113.1 with the Reds in 2015, his first year in the big leagues. As he continues to stretch out his innings, manager Rob Thomson is focused on keeping him healthy. 

After the no-hitter, Thomson told reporters he had Lorenzen on an extended pitch count. According to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the manager said: "You know how important health is for me. He's got a career to think about. And I've got to think about his career."

Meanwhile, Cristopher Sánchez has shown marked improvement since being called up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs on June 13. In 10 starts since June 17, the left-hander has a 3.17 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 10 walks in 54.0 innings. In his last two starts, he has slipped a bit, surrendering four walks and four home runs in 11.0 innings for a 6.55 ERA.

However, against the Minnesota Twins in his most recent start, he settled after giving up back-to-back home runs in the second inning, battling back to shut the team down the rest of the way and stretch himself through the sixth inning. 

The lefty is already at 58.1 innings on the season, his highest total across his three seasons in the big leagues. In the minors, he topped out at 75.2 innings in 2019. 

Thomson has committed to giving Sánchez at least one more start, slated for Saturday against the Washington Nationals. If the 26-year-old throws another gem, it’ll be hard to remove him from the rotation. Though, long term, he might find a role in the bullpen if the Phillies revert back to a traditional rotation. 

October will be here before you know it, and the Phillies are playing the long ball. Counting Tuesday’s game, the Phillies have 43 games and six off-days

However, Thomson made it clear, according to the AP, that he isn’t committing to a six-man rotation permanently: "After we get through the off days, we will probably go back to the five-man rotation. We have a lot of off days in there and a lot of guys will get five days' rest circulating through there."

In the meantime, though, the Phillies starters will take advantage of the extra rest as they work through the dog days of summer and set themselves up for a potential postseason run.