By Sam Bush

The Phillies have placed right-hander Taijuan Walker on the 15-day injured list due to inflammation in his right index finger.

Right-hander Michael Mercado was recalled to the majors in a corresponding move. Mercado’s first appearance will be his big league debut.

Walker has had a difficult 2024 season as he’s dealt with both injuries and ineffectiveness.

A shoulder impingement delayed his season debut until the tail end of April, and he’s struggled considerably in ten starts since then. The righty sports a 5.60 ERA and 5.77 FIP overall on the season, figures that are 37% and 40% worse than the league average respectively. Just two of Walker’s ten appearances have been quality starts, and opponents have batted an eye-popping .278/.353/.511 against him in seven starts dating back to May 16. In other words, Walker’s opponents have teed off in recent weeks to achieve results roughly comparable to those Guardians star Jose Ramirez (.271/.330/.528) has posted this season.

Walker’s struggles came to a head Friday night against the Diamondbacks, when the righty allowed four runs on five hits and three walks across just four innings of work while striking out only three batters.

Spencer Turnbull has been excellentthis year while swinging between the rotation and the bullpen, with a 2.63 ERA and 3.57 FIP in 51 1/3 innings across 16 appearances (six starts).

While Turnbull has not started a game since late April, the righty threw 49 pitches in his most recent outing on Friday and figures to be able to step into the rotation and offer the Phillies solid production in Walker’s stead. That leaves the long relief role out of the bullpen to Mercado, who is set to replace Walker on the club’s roster. Mercado was the Rays’ second-round pick in the 2017 draft but did not make an appearance at the big league level with the club before being traded to the Phillies back in November. Philadelphia swiftly placed Mercado on their 40-man roster and sent him to Triple-A to open the season, where he’s excelled with a 1.71 ERA and a 22.8% strikeout rate in 47 1/3 innings of work split between the rotation and bullpen at the level.

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