Phillies rookie annihilates Braves in historic MLB debut

Tyler Phillips made quite an impression in his first MLB action.
Philadelphia Phillies rookie Tyler Phillips made quite an impression in his first MLB action.
Philadelphia Phillies rookie Tyler Phillips made quite an impression in his first MLB action. / Alex Slitz/GettyImages
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Tyler Phillips got off to a fast start in his MLB debut for the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, striking out the side in his first inning of work against the Atlanta Braves. Phillips went on to pitch four innings, and even though he gave up a home run in the sixth inning, he managed to compile seven strikeouts in his first big league action.

Phillies rookie annihilates Braves in historic MLB debut

According to MLB.com's Paul Casella, Phillips' seven strikeouts set a Phillies record for the most by any Phillies pitcher in relief in a major league debut. He broke Bill Duggleby's 123-year-old record in his maiden outing.

By striking out the side in the fifth inning, Phillips became just the fifth Phillies pitcher and 29th pitcher all time to strike out the side in his debut, according to Phillies play-by-play broadcaster Tom McCarthy. He joins JoJo Romero (2020), JC Ramirez (2013), Angelo Lipetri (1956) and Frank Scanlan (1909) as the five players to earn this accomplishment with the club.

Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 16th round in the 2015 MLB Draft, the Phillies took a chance on the 26-year-old right-hander in 2021 when they claimed him on waivers. He was officially called up on Friday as the Phillies were looking for a long reliever with Michael Mercado on a pitch count to start the game.

Mercado’s day was short-lived after he gave up five runs in just 1 2/3 innings of work. Phillips was given the call from the bullpen in the fifth following scoreless innings from José Ruiz and Matt Strahm. It was a dream come true for Phillips as he grew up a Phillies fan and attended Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

Tyler Phillips' immediate future with the Phillies is unclear

It's unclear what Phillips’ role with the team will be going forward, but he provides the club with much-needed flexibility out of the bullpen and rotation.

He showed this on Sunday, carrying the bullpen on a day when it was needed most. With Spencer Turnbull and Taijuan Walker on the IL, the Phillies are without a long reliever, and Phillips has a chance to fill this role if he can continue to pitch well when called upon.

In eight minor league seasons, he has pitched 149 games (129 starts) and has compiled 42 wins and 618 strikeouts. Before his promotion this year, Phillips had a record of 7-3 with 78 strikeouts in 92 innings of work. His best season came in 2018 when he finished 12-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 133 innings while striking out 127.

Phillips has a diverse pitch arsenal with five pitches in the mix, including a fastball, curveball, slider, sweeper and changeup. Most of his strikeouts on Sunday came on the sweeper, but he also had success with the curveball and changeup. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he has an ideal frame for a pitcher and has the chance to excel as he works with Caleb Cotham at the major league level. Cotham has helped pitchers such as Cristopher Sánchez, Ranger Suárez and Orion Kerkering find success through their early major league careers. 

Even though Sunday was not the Phillies' day as they fell 6-0 to the Braves, they saw a lot of potential with Tyler Phillips as a possible candidate for the back end of the bullpen going forward.

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