Orion Kerkering, drafted in the fifth round by the Phillies last season, made his MLB debut on Sunday and is eligible for the postseason. Matt Slocum/Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Orion Kerkering sounded a bit like every Phillies fan last year, vowing to score World Series tickets at any price. That he was Philadelphia’s fifth-round draft pick didn’t matter much, Kerkering had to scrounge for tickets like any other desperate fanatic.

Good news, Kerkering knew a guy – his uncle – who knew a guy who could get tickets. Kerkering only had to buy his plane ticket and he would have seats with his girlfriend and his father at Game 3 of the World Series.

Kerkering rooted on the Phillies from the third row of the upper deck as they blasted five homers against Houston. While the Phillies trotted out four relievers in the win, Kerkering watched and wondered, could he one day – say, 2025, he figured – be the pitcher that gets the call from the ‘pen in the postseason?

Why wait?

Should the Phillies reach the World Series again, Kerkering can skip the secondary market and friends-of-friends for tickets and instead catch the game from the bullpen. The 22-year-old Kerkering blazed through four stops in the minor leagues this year before he was called up over the weekend, and the right-hander then struck out two in a scoreless inning in his MLB debut in Sunday’s win over the New York Mets.

Oh, and even with the late start, Kerkering is postseason eligible.


He should get there as long as the Phillies do, with the inevitable set to become a reality as early as with a win Tuesday against Pittsburgh. The Phillies are poised to earn the No. 1 wild card, giving them home field in the first round of the playoffs.

Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber are ready to mash again in October.

This time around, Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, Cristopher Sánchez and Kerkering are along for the ride.

With 87 wins, their total already matched last season’s, before they knocked off St. Louis, Atlanta and San Diego on a wild ride to the World Series. Again, the 100-win NL East champion Braves are in the way and the Dodgers are closing in on reaching that win total. But remember last year, the Dodgers, Braves and Mets all hit 100 wins, yet it was the Phillies left standing in the National League, before losing in six games to Houston in the World Series.

Top to bottom, the Phillies are stronger, deeper everywhere, especially on the pitching staff. The Phillies gutted through the playoffs tossing out “openers” such as Bailey Falter and Noah Syndergaard to survive an inning or two. Now, Sanchez, owner of one of the best changeups in the game, has struck out 10 batters in a game twice this month, yet may not even get a chance to start in a short series.

“I’m not sure where we’d be without him,” Manager Rob Thomson said. “This kid’s really something. I wouldn’t be afraid to use him in leverage situations out of the bullpen. If we get to October. We’re not there yet. For me, he’s not out of the question about starting a game.”


Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola are sure postseason starters, with Walker and Ranger Suárez in the mix, along with Sanchez.


YANKEES 6, DIAMONDBACKS 4: Kevin Ginkel blew the last of Arizona’s three leads in a loss in New York, dropping the Diamondbacks into a tie with the Chicago Cubs for the National League’s second wild card spot.

Ginkel (9-1) loaded the bases in the eighth inning by allowing two singles and a walk. He walked in the tying run by issuing a free pass to Oswald Peraza and Gleyber Torres scored on a sacrifice fly to left from Estevan Florial to give the Yankees their first lead.

Everson Pereira added an RBI single for a 6-4 lead.

Ginkel’s rough outing, which followed blown leads by Merrill Kelly in the fourth and Ryan Thompson in the seventh, resulted in Arizona’s second loss in eight games.

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