Struggling Lorenzen searching to recapture no-no mojo

September 6th, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- 's first two starts with the Phillies had people dreaming.

He tossed eight strong innings in Miami in his team debut on Aug. 3, then threw the 14th no-hitter in Phillies history on Aug. 9 at Citizens Bank Park. On Tuesday afternoon, Lorenzen received a couple cool keepsakes from that magical night at Citizens Bank Park. The folks from Vans presented him with bronzed replicas of the custom-made spikes he wore when he baffled the Nationals.

But Lorenzen has not been the same pitcher since his no-hitter. He allowed seven runs (six earned) in six innings in Tuesday night's 8-0 loss to the Padres at Petco Park, allowing the Cubs to move to within 1 1/2 games of the Phillies for the top NL Wild Card spot with 24 games to play.

  • Games remaining: at SD (1), vs. MIA (3), vs. ATL (4), at STL (3), at ATL (4), vs. NYM (4), vs. PIT (3), at NYM (3)
  • Standings update: The Phillies hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Cubs for the top NL Wild Card spot. They are 4 1/2 games clear of the Reds, five ahead of the Marlins and 5 1/2 in front of the D-backs.

"I mean, I’m about as frustrated as you can get," Lorenzen said. "Yeah, my job is to get big league hitters out and keep our team in a good position to win a baseball game. I feel like I’ve failed at that quite often."

Lorenzen is 1-2 with an 8.14 ERA in four starts since his no-hitter. He has allowed 32 hits, 22 runs (19 earned), nine walks and six home runs in 21 innings. He has struck out just 11.

Everybody is trying to figure out why he has gone sideways.

The stuff is there. Lorenzen’s four-seam fastball averaged 94.6 mph against the Padres, which is 0.3 mph better than his season average and his best single-game mark since early June. But Lorenzen generated only five swings and misses, his fewest in a start since April 21.

He got 23 whiffs on 107 swings (21.5%) in his first two starts with the Phillies. He has 29 on 161 swings (18%) since.

Lorenzen threw only 56.3% of his pitches for strikes (53 of 94) against the Padres. It was his lowest strike percentage in a start since April 25, 2022. Lorenzen threw 65.8% of his pitches for strikes in his first two starts with the Phillies. He's thrown 62.5% for strikes since.

Maybe it is the after effect of throwing 124 pitches in the no-hitter.

“One-hundred twenty-four pitches, that takes its toll,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said.

Or maybe it is the cumulative effect of throwing a career-high 143 2/3 innings. Lorenzen’s previous career high of 113 1/3 innings came as a rookie in 2015.

He had not thrown more than 97 2/3 innings in any season since.

“I mean, I don’t know how to look into that,” Lorenzen said. “Honestly, I don’t know what to tell you about that. My velo was great today. … I don't know how much to look into that. I’d love to make an excuse and say that’s why. But I’m not going to make an excuse.

"My body feels great. The stuff is good. I should be better. I don’t know if I’m overthinking, trying to overdo stuff or what. But you try to simplify stuff, you try to challenge them, and then the singles happen. It makes you try to make better pitches because singles are happening. You’re not getting the swing-and-miss that you want, so that leads to trying to make better pitches, and then walking guys.”

The Phillies are committed to a six-man rotation through Monday’s doubleheader against the Braves. After that, the Phils will look more closely at their options. When they acquired Lorenzen from the Tigers on Aug. 1, they said he could move into the bullpen at some point, if needed.

They noted his workload and his previous experience pitching out of the 'pen.

“We’ve talked about a couple things,” Thomson said. “We’ve talked about piggybacking him and [Cristopher Sánchez], depending on what the opposing team’s lineup looks like -- who starts, who finishes, we can jump around with that. We’re looking at a lot of different things.”

But the ideal solution is the obvious one: Lorenzen returns to form for the stretch drive.