Phillies made the right decision with Turnbull and the rotation, even if you hate it

Moving Spencer Turnbull to the bullpen was really the Phillies' only move, for now.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Spencer Turnbull will pitch out of the bullpen
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Spencer Turnbull will pitch out of the bullpen / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As hard as it is to accept, the Philadelphia Phillies eventually came to the right decision about the rotation.

It took manager Rob Thomson some time to get there, but moving Spencer Turnbull to the bullpen is the right call in this situation, at least for now. Thomson finally let everyone in on the plan on Saturday, per's Paul Casella, and explained why Turnbull is heading to the bullpen as the long-man.

“He can do a lot of different things, because he gives you length, obviously,” Thomson said, per Casella. “But he gives us another guy to get on right-handed hitters because we’ve struggled a little bit with that. I have the confidence in him to put him in leverage [spots], so I think for the time being, that’s the way to go.”

The Phillies definitely waffled on this one, or at least made it seem like they waffled, even though the answer was evident from the beginning. That's all on Turnbull, who created a great problem for the coaching staff by being so surprisingly good in his six starts. He finished his first opportunity in the Phillies rotation with a 2-0 record and a 1.67 ERA.

Phillies made the right decision with Turnbull and the rotation, even if you hate it

The fanbase was clamoring for Turnbull to remain in the rotation, and rightly so, after Taijuan Walker returned from the injured list. It seemed like that might be a possibility, even if Walker's re-insertion into the starting five and Turnbull's relegation to the bullpen was inevitable.

At first, Thomson seemed to be getting too cute with his solution. Things were getting complicated. You needed a flowchart to piece together the possibilities. Picture Thomson in his office, doing his best Charlie Kelly Pepe Silvia conspiracy impression, trying to sort it all out.

There was talk of piggybacking starters, something not normally seen in MLB games outside of spring training. They mentioned starting this pitcher here or that pitcher there, all dependent on the bullpen situation. A short-lived six-man rotation got the thumbs down from Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

Turnbull's innings have to be one of the biggest factors in this decision. He hasn't thrown more than 56 major league innings in any of the last four seasons after throwing 148 in 2019. Between the minors and majors, he only threw 57 innings in 2023.

As much as the 31-year-old pushed back on an innings limit, the Phillies were always going to be smart with his workload. He has already thrown 32 1/3 innings this season. He'll likely have a cap of around 100 innings, maybe a little more, depending on how his arm reacts to fatigue later in the year.

Phillies were always going to choose Taijuan Walker over Turnbull

Despite his team-instigated disappearing act in the postseason, Walker earned the chance to prove himself again after going 15-6 in his first season in Philly — even if it was a rocky ride. When you factor in that the front office is shelling out $18 million a year for the veteran, there was never a doubt that he would regain his spot in the rotation.

So far, Walker has been serviceable through his two starts. If they stop him from going out for the seventh inning, his 6.39 ERA would look much better. He has a 3.00 ERA through the first six innings. That number balloons to 67.50 in the seventh, with five runs surrendered in 2/3 of an inning.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer's Alex Coffey, Turnbull is taking the move to the bullpen like a good teammate. He says he enjoys being on a winning team and that winning is what matters most.

All is not lost, however. If any of the starting five are injured, or if Walker or maybe even Cristopher Sánchez struggle for an extended period, Turnbull will be the first in line to get another shot.

For now, he'll bide his time with the other relievers, as much as we hate it.