Spencer Turnbull’s stellar debut creates a good problem for the Phillies

It looks like the Phillies have found a gem among their offseason signings.

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull had an impressive debut on Tuesday night
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull had an impressive debut on Tuesday night / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

In February, the Philadelphia Phillies made one of their key offseason signings, former Detroit Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull, to add valuable pitching depth. Almost seven weeks later, Turnbull has begun his quest to show the Phillies how valuable he can actually be to the team.

On Tuesday night, Turnbull made his debut for the Phillies in his first start of the season against the Cincinnati Reds, and boy was it a dandy. In front of the home crowd, he put up five solid innings in which he gave up zero earned runs (one unearned) on just three hits. Turnbull was in command all night, punching out seven Reds players while walking none.

Not bad for someone who wants to give his new team a lasting impression.

As much as he has been a pleasant surprise for the Phillies, it sure felt like reverting to the norm for Turnbull. After all, he had his breakthrough year in 2021, when he pitched to a stellar 2.88 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in nine starts and registered his first-ever no-hitter. That was when Turnbull began to run into some big-time injury woes, including Tommy John surgery that ended his 2021 campaign, setting him back for the past couple of years.

Now, with a clean bill of health and a fresh start with the Phillies in 2024, Turnbull has set his sights on revitalizing his career by seizing every opportunity that he can. Already this spring training, he gave himself a strong audition by pitching to a 2.25 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, with 12 strikeouts in just eight innings of work.

When teammate Taijuan Walker was set to start the year on the injured list, Turnbull was presented with an opportunity in the rotation, and so far, it appears that he won’t likely let go of it anytime soon. 

With his promising debut, Turnbull has inadvertently created a problem for the Phillies going forward, but one that's definitely good to have. His impressive performance showed that he can provide the team with reliable, MLB-caliber starting pitching depth.

If he continues to do what he is doing, it won't be easy to take him out of the rotation when Walker eventually makes his way back onto the roster. Maybe they will go to a six-man rotation, or maybe someone will struggle enough to resolve the impending logjam. Nevertheless, it should help the Phillies massively down the road, giving them an advantage by having an excess of riches at their disposal when it comes to their starting rotation.