Phillies’ Orion Kerkering shines in MLB debut – NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies picked a decent-sized spot for relief prospect Orion Kerkering’s major league debut — the top of the eighth inning of a save situation against the Mets on Sunday night.

One, two, three, Kerkering walked the bottom of the Mets lineup, retiring Omar Narvaez at third on a groundball and then striking out Brett Batty and Rafael Ortega.

The first K was on a back-foot slider to the left-handed batsman, which went over and around him. Kerkering’s slider was viewed as one of the best in the minors, and because it is paired with a 98-99 mph fastball, you can see why the 22-year-old was so impressive this season. Who earned four promotions in less than six months.

He has made 50 total appearances across five levels and has gone 44 scoreless innings with a 1.48 ERA, 81 strikeouts and 12 walks.

Manager Rob Thomson said, “We knew the stuff was electric and it really is.” “The slider is his pitch, but you can’t sleep on the fastball because it’s so good. The only thing with the guys coming here is how will they handle this environment? How will they handle the third deck, 40,000 people in the stands, the city. Josh? And it looked like he wasn’t even sweating there.

“There are reports, but you won’t know until they get here, and that was really something.”

Kerkering is now in a very interesting position, positioned to help the Phillies bullpen in the playoffs as a rookie. Barring some disaster, why wouldn’t he be on the playoff roster? He already has a big league arsenal and is a work in progress. The decision could come down to Kerkering, Yunior Marte or Dylan Covey.

“Just keep doing me because you never know what’s going to happen,” Kerkering said. “Everyone is saying I have big league stuff so just keep believing in it and believe in yourself.”

“Seven or eight” of Kerkering’s family members and friends were in attendance at Citizens Bank Park for the unforgettable night. His father spent the entire bottom of the eighth inning crying proud papa tears.

“Being here in Philly is probably one of the best feelings ever,” Kerkering said. “Got to hug her and take pictures. It was an amazing moment, it was a surreal moment. I heard everyone was crying. Great for TV, so can’t complain.”

All five pitches thrown by Kerkering to retire Narvaez were sliders. He threw a total of 12 pitches – 10 sliders and a pair of fastballs averaging 99 mph. That said, this is nothing new; throughout 2023, he has been throwing mostly sliders while mixing in a high-90s heater.

Kerkering said, once he heard his name announced in a big league stadium and the roar of the crowd, his nervousness went away.

However, he was surprised by how excited the crowd of over 41,000 was for his first appearance in Philly.

He said, “With how loud the fans were, I didn’t think they would be cheering that loud or being that ready and excited for me.” “With everyone counting on me and ready to go, I couldn’t be more blessed.”

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