Phillies Mailbag: Kirkering, Cave, Marsh’s Playing Time
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag. We take your questions and answer them each week on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill. Ask your questions at any time to @FrankKlose on X. Tune in Tuesday afternoons to hear your question answered live on the air.
Would you bring up Orion Kerkering?
I suppose I should first speak about who Orion Kerkering is, as many Phillies fans might not be aware of the name. The Phillies drafted Kerkering in the fifth round of the 2022 draft. He made his professional debut in rookie ball last season before getting a handful of appearances at Low-A Clearwater.
In 2023, Kerkering has really impressed.
Beginning the season once again at Low-A Clearwater, he allowed no runs in 9 relief appearances before he was promoted to High-A Jersey Shore. There, he made 18 appearances, striking out 27 in 20 1/3 innings. That led to another promotion.
Kerkering is currently pitching in relief at Double-A Reading. The success continued there, as well. He has made 19 appearances and thrown 19 1/3 innings. He has struck out 26, pitching to a 2.36 ERA.
The Athletic's Matt Gelb went to see him back in May. Phillies president Dave Dombrowski was there, too. Gelb notes that he combines three-digit fastballs with a slider that he says, "has the potential to be an elite pitch."
As to whether or not he would be in Philadelphia this season? I would think that the Phillies would at least be thinking about it.
The need for a fresh arm necessitated the 476-carousel to swap Andrew Bellatti for Yunior Marte yesterday. Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Alvarado continue to struggle.
My gut says he might not be totally ready just yet, but if the Phillies bullpen continues to struggle, I wouldn't completely rule it out. But this is an arm worth watching for next year for sure.
Why is Nick Cave on this team?
The Philleis bench makeup I find somewhat puzzling. The Phillies still carry Rodolfo Castro on the roster, even though it's clear that they have little desire to use him. They are also trying to balance similar right-handed bats Johan Rojas and Cristian Pache, which is somewhat redundant, though Rojas has a better glove and Pache maybe the more-polished bat.
The end result is that Jake Cave is playing a lot. Too much, I would say.
In his last 15 games, Cave is batting .147, with 13 strikeouts in 34 at bats. His triple yesterday was his only extra base hit in that span. While he is the 9th hitter on the team, I think that he's overexposed.
I would prefer that the Phillies prioritize defense most of the time. And, Cave does not have to play against every righty. Rojas is hitting .268 against righties in his young career. Pache is a different story, batting .118 against right-handed pitching.
If the Phillies replaced Castro with either Kody Clemens or Darick Hall they might get some better at bats at first base when Harper cannot play.
When is Brandon Marsh going to play everyday?
Well, for the most part, I think it's fair to say that Brandon Marsh is a starting outfielder on the team. He does play most of the time. But I think his "days off" tend to correspond with the opportunity to use the other players on the roster, which include the aforementioned Pache and Rojas.
If there is a tough left-handed pitcher, that probably is going to be Marsh's day off since there are other options on the roster. Both Pache and Rojas hit lefties nicely. When the opportunity exists to use Kyle Schwarber as a designated hitter, both players could play.
I wouldn't be shocked if Marsh is off against Max Fried Tuesday night. None of the three outfielders have faced Fried in their young careers just yet.
I do think that Marsh's defense in left field would be very helpful. Thanks to his time in left field in Los Angeles when Mike Trout played, he has an awareness of the position next to another center fielder.
It's true that Marsh bats just .236 against lefties compared to .302 against righties. So while the Phillies have Pache and Rojas available, they'll take the opportunity to put them into the lineup accordingly.