The Philadelphia Phillies, who enter Saturday with a disappointing 20-24 record, made several tweaks to their lineup and rotation ahead of their contest versus the Chicago Cubs. Top among them? Giving struggling shortstop Trea Turner the day off.
Turner, who signed an 11-year contract worth $300 million over the winter, has struggled in the early going. He's batted .257/.302/.390 through his first 44 games, marks that result in a 90 OPS+. Turner, for his part, has never posted an OPS+ south of 100 for a full season. Manager Rob Thomson told reporters, including MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, that he wanted Turner to have time to clear his mind and work on his swing with hitting coach Kevin Long before slotting back into the lineup on Sunday.
The Phillies also modified their rotation schedule for the next few days.
Taijuan Walker, another free-agent signing (four years, $72 million) who has thus far underperformed, will start on Sunday on three days' rest. Walker had previously appeared on Wednesday, but was removed during the first inning of his outing against the San Francisco Giants after he allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. Through nine starts, he's compiled a 6.53 ERA (66 ERA+) and a 2.05 strikeout-to-walk ratio over the course of just 41 frames.
The Phillies have claimed right-handed pitcher Dylan Covey off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers. To make room for Covey on the 40-man roster, first baseman Darick Hall was transferred to the 60-day injured list.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) May 20, 2023
With Walker starting on Sunday and Zack Wheeler taking his usual turn on Monday, the Phillies still haven't announced who will start Tuesday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. They did add an external option to the mix, however, claiming right-hander Dylan Covey off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Covey, who has 45 career big-league starts, had spent most of the season in Triple-A, where he posted a 4.22 ERA and a 1.56 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven appearances (six of them starts). Lefty Matt Strahm would seem to be the other candidate. The Phillies optioned Bailey Falter, their fourth-most used starter so far this year, to the minors on Tuesday, just days after Ranger Suárez returned to make his season debut.
The Phillies have lost five games in a row, putting them in fourth place and eight games back in the National League East.