Phillies Rotation: Tyler Phillips To Start, Michael Mercado To Bullpen

Phillies Rotation: Tyler Phillips To Start, Michael Mercado To Bullpen Brett Davis, USA TODAY Sports

It was a rough Sunday for Phillies rookie Michael Mercado.

The 2017 second-round pick managed to make his first major league start with his second major league club and it went very well.

Over five innings, the rookie allowed just one run against the Cubs to follow up his debut where he pitched a scoreless inning out of the bullpen against the Tigers. It was an impressive performance that certainly showed he deserved the crack at the rotation.

On Sunday, however, Mercado was unable to get out of the second inning and had already lost the Phillies the game against the Braves. He allowed three walks and five hits with five runs scored in only 1.2 innings of work. That will not do for a team with championship aspirations.

Everyone has bad days. We’ve seen Wheeler, Suarez and Nola all have those in the last month. The problem for Mercado is how the game ended.

The Phillies needed someone to eat innings and they had already promoted the Lumberton, NJ native Tyler Phillips, who has been starting in the Phillies minor league system for the past two seasons. Phillips came in hot with four innings pitched and only one run allowed (on a solo home run). He only threw 53 pitches to get through those innings against one of the league’s top lineups and walked nobody while striking out seven. He also started his appearance off with four straight strikeouts.

The performance has made some who watched the whole game question who starts on Saturday. The Phillies answered that, however – It’ll be Phillips making his first major league start Saturday.

Mercado was certainly the one with more eyes on him. His 1.71 ERA in Lehigh Valley this year and 44:23 K:BB ratio would back up his status as one of the Phillies top prospects. Phillips has the less flashy ERA (4.89), but a higher K/BB ratio (78:37) and has nearly twice the innings for his sample size (92 compared to Mercado’s 47.1).

The storyline is going to be interesting for more Phillies fans with Phillips starting. A lifelong Phillies fan who came to the organization during injuries then grinded for a few years in Reading and Lehigh Valley to get to the big leagues.

It is a questionable move on the surface as far as Mercado goes – he told reporters after his first start (and MLB win) that the Phillies really just told him they had faith in him and he had good stuff so he should trust it. Then he got battered in his second start and is moving to the pen.

Rob Thompson said that was the plan (due to his limited innings pitched this year and last), but either way the optics of the move are not great, even if this was truly planned.

For Phillips, however, it’s a great opportunity and he’ll have it against a team that isn’t nearly as good as the Braves he just debuted against.


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