Walker placed on IL, Turnbull returns to Phillies rotation – NBC Sports Philadelphia

Taijuan Walker comes out of the Phillies rotation. At least temporarily.

Walker was placed on the 15-day injured list Sunday due to inflammation in his right index finger. This move is retroactive to June 22.

Spencer Turnbull will rejoin the Phillies’ rotation on Wednesday in Detroit, of all places, against the organization that drafted him in 2014, drafted him multiple times in 2023 and did not offer him in November.

Right-hander Michael Mercado was recalled from Triple A to replace Walker on the active roster. He will be out of the playing field.

Walker is dealing with a blister on his right hand. He wasn’t very good in 10 starts, posting a 5.60 ERA with mediocre command, low velocity and the absence of his primary outfield, the splitter.

Walker’s fastball averaged just 90.3 in Friday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, his lowest velocity of the season by nearly a full mile per hour. Overall this season, his four-seam fastball is averaging 91.6 and his sinker is 91.1, compared to 93.1 and 92.6 last year.

To make matters worse, a splitter that held opponents to a .210 batting average last season with a 24% whiff rate has produced a .417 batting average for opponents this season with just a 16.5% whiff rate.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” manager Rob Thompson said when asked how much time Walker could miss. “It’s all about being able to throw the ball. That’s what really affected him. (The blister) doesn’t just affect him throwing the fastball. It’s when he gets the ball between his fingers.”

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“It’s been going on for a while. It comes and goes. We really want to get rid of it.”

The Phillies have a rotation-ready replacement in Turnbull, who took over the fifth rotation spot in April until Walker returns from shoulder soreness. Turnbull excelled in that role early in the season, going 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA in six starts. He’s been sporadically playing long or lopsided games ever since, trying to find some semblance of rhythm in an unfamiliar situation.

This transition has not been easy for Turnbull, but he will now be in a more natural role. Thompson expects to be limited to about 70 pitches on Wednesday. Turnbull threw 49 in his final relief outing on Friday.

It remains to be seen what happens with Walker when he is ready to return. The Phillies still owe him the remainder of his $18 million salary this season, then a combined $36 million in 2025-26. They didn’t feel comfortable using him in the playoffs last year, and he dropped to at least fifth on the Phillies’ depth chart for starting pitchers.

There’s not a lot of flexibility in Walker’s role either. He’s made one relief appearance in the last 10 years, and takes longer to warm up than some starters, which is why he was on the postseason roster just in case there was a very long game in extra inning last October.

Mercado has been on a roll in Triple A, allowing two or fewer runs in 13 of his 14 appearances. He has a 1.71 ERA and has been extended further in his last three starts, hitting 91 pitches the last two times. Mercado, who has a 96-97 mph fastball, can pitch in long relief, but Thompson also said he would be comfortable using him in one-inning stints because “stuff plays out.”

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