Philadelphia Phillies prospect Orion Kirkering looks like he could be ready to join the team's bullpen as soon as Tuesday.

Kerkering started the season on the 15-day injured list, with a right forearm strain.

The 23-year-old had a rough spring, missing multiple weeks dealing with an illness, but should be ready to help the bullpen when he is eligible to be called back up on April 9.

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His 2023 minor league numbers, over four levels, were outstanding.  He had a 1.51 ERA, striking out 79 in just 53.2 innings to earn the call-up on Sept 22.

After the call-up, he made quite an impression in only three appearances he registered six strikeouts in his three innings of work showing a big-time fastball along with a nasty slider, earning a postseason roster spot.

Now Kerkering appears ready to make an impact, making a rehab appearance with the Phillies Single-A, Clearwater Threshers. Kerkering faced five hitters, striking out four in 1.1 innings of work and touching 97-98 mph on the radar gun.

Kerkering is eligible to return from the injured list on Tuesday when the Phillies face the St. Louis Cardinals. 

So how will the Phillies use Kerkering?

That's the big question. The Phillies don't have a traditional closer, so would they use him to close games out right away?  Jose Alvarado has closed out games early in the season, but they like to use him against lefties in key spots.

Adding Kerking to a bullpen that already has Alvarado, Jeff Hoffman, Seranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, and Matt Straham would give

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another key arm for Thomson to call on in key spots.

He certainly gives Rob Thomson another weapon in the bullpen that has pitched pretty well since their Opening Day stinker as our buddy Bob Wankel points out.

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