If there’s been one consistent complaint about this Phillies team in 2024, it’s been the fifth starter.

Taijuan Walker has been a failed experiment since he signed with the club before the 2023 season. Walker was 15-6 with a 4.38 ERA in 31 starts last year, which was nothing to sneeze at. The issue, especially with the fans, came playoff time and the time since.

Manager Rob Thomson decided not to use the veteran right-hander, which isn’t uncommon in the playoffs. Many teams opt to use a three-man rotation come playoff time to try to gain an advantage over the opposing team. However, Thomson decided not to use Walker at all, even in the bullpen, causing a little bit of controversy.


The 31-year-old has dealt with injuries all season and is currently on the 15-day IL.

The Phillies turned to Spencer Turnbull to replace Walker in the rotation.


Turnbull started the season in the starting rotation

and pitched very well while Walker was making his way back from injury. He was moved to the bullpen once Walker was healthy before returning to the rotation on Wednesday against Detroit.

Turnbull left Wednesday’s game against the Tigers after three innings in which he threw 36 pitches due to right shoulder soreness. The right-hander is at risk of landing on the IL as well.

The Phillies have been one of the top teams in baseball all season, with little holes on the roster. People look at outfield depth and the fifth starter when assessing the Phillies’ biggest needs moving forward into the second half of the season.


It’s time to stop worrying about the fifth starter.


Most teams would love to be in the Phillies’ position with four top pitchers in the starting rotation in: Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suárez, Cristopher Sánchez, and Aaron Nola. People don’t usually expect a fifth starter to be dominant or even that valuable to a team’s overall success.

The Phillies will be fine with Walker as the fifth starter moving forward when he returns from injury. They’ll be fine if Turnbull needs to take over the fifth starter spot down the line. They’ll even be fine if they need to opt for the ever-so-popular bullpen game when the fifth spot in the rotation rolls around.

Whoever’s pitching on the fifth day won’t be relevant come playoff time. The Phillies will likely use a three-man rotation again, anyway.


You know a team is good when everyone is complaining about a fifth starter.

PHOTO: ClutchPoints

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