The Phillies own Rob Thomson became their interim manager almost three weeks ago, after the Phillies front office fired Joe Girardi.
In 2022, the Phillies started off the season with a substandard 22-29 record, as the month of May closed. With a quarter of the season already in the books, the Phillies front office felt as if a new voice was needed in the clubhouse.
Here’s five fun facts about the Phils new skipper, and how his experiences can make an impact on this playoff capable team.
First Year Skipper
Thomson is in his 5th season as the Phillies’ bench coach and was a member of Girardi’s coaching staff during his time as manager of the New York Yankees. Although he has worked in baseball for almost four decades, the 58 year old has never been an MLB manager.
Thomson’s biggest accomplishment during his playing career was in 1984. The youngster competed for Team Canada in the Summer Olympics. At the time, baseball was a “demonstration sport” and was not officially recognized as an Olympic sport until 1992. Regardless, Thomson was given the opportunity to play competitive ball at Dodger Stadium, for the entire world to watch.
Friends but Opponents?
Believe it or not, the New York Mets manager Buck Showalter is a good friend of Thomson, and the two go way back. Thomson met Showalter in 1989, during his second year as a minor league coach for the London Tigers, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. At the time, Showalter was managing the double-A Albany-Colonie Yankees, and was quickly impressed by Thomson’s coaching and humble character.
A few years later, Showalter and Thomson worked together during spring training, through the Yankees organization and quickly became friends.
“He has no ego,” Showalter said about Thomson. Well, we all have an ego, but it’s always about the players for him. A lot of people say ‘Oh, he’s really organized,’ which he is, but he’s got great people skills, too. I think the mistake that a lot of coaches and managers make is they forget how hard the game was to play and how bad they were on a given night… He’s just very driven, very consistent, doesn’t have a lot of emotional swings back and forth.”
The respect Showalter and Thomson have developed for each other is admirable, especially in their rival NL East division.
A Step in the Right Direction
So far, Thomson has made a lasting impression on Phillies fans alike. In his first series as manager, the Phils swept the Angels, with electrifying hits, homers, walk-offs, along with solid pitching. From there, he led the Phils to their first 9 game winning streak, the longest win streak since 2011.
Thomson also made a huge change before today’s matinee vs. the Marlins. The team will use a closer-by-committee approach from now on, until their abysmal closer Corey Knebel improves. According to an article written by Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki, “Knebel has thrown only 45.2 percent of his pitches in the strike zone this season, which is his lowest rate since Statcast started tracking in 2015. It is the 12th lowest rate among 74 relievers who have thrown at least 400 pitches.”
This is unacceptable, and Phillies fans everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that Knebel will not pitch in a safe situation.
Overall, the team chemistry has immensely improved since Thomson has been in the clubhouse. Nick Castellanos said in a postgame interview, “I think it’s just getting comfortable, man…Having the confidence that when we go down that we can come back.”