'Unreal': Local kid Phillips breaks 123-year-old record in MLB debut

July 7th, 2024

ATLANTA -- spent Sunday morning at Truist Park signing every autograph for every Phillies fan he could along the left-field line.

How could he not?

Phillips grew up a Phillies fan in South Jersey, so he remembers how he felt when he was a kid and was unsuccessful trying to get an autograph from a player. Phillips, 26, made his big league debut in Sunday’s 6-0 loss to the Braves. He allowed three hits, one run and struck out seven in four innings. His seven strikeouts are the most by any Phillies pitcher in relief in his MLB debut.

He broke a 123-year-old record held by Bill Duggleby, who had six strikeouts in his April 18, 1901, debut.

“Unreal,” Phillips said. “I don’t know what to say. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”

Phillips struck out the side in his debut inning in the fifth. He got Matt Olson looking on a 2-2 curveball. He struck out Marcell Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud swinging on sweepers. Phillips then struck out Adam Duvall and Jarred Kelenic in the sixth, although Eli White hit a solo homer to left in between.

Phillips punched out two more Braves before his afternoon ended.

He had his family in the stands to see it all, including his 3-year-old son, Frank.

“He was crying after the game,” Phillips said. “I was hoping it was happy tears, but he was really just scared of the [Braves'] mascot, he said. I think he will remember it. I know he’s excited to be here. I’m just really happy he was able to be here.”

Phillips had trouble putting into words how he felt during his debut. Imagine growing up in a diehard Phillies family, spending seven seasons in the Minor Leagues, then finally getting called up by the hometown team.

So yeah, he felt something when the bullpen phone rang and they told him to be ready to pitch the fifth.

“I felt my stomach in my throat,” he said. “I was choked up after the game. I’m still choked up.”

Phillips started the fifth inning after rookie starter Michael Mercado lasted only 1 2/3 innings. Mercado walked the bases loaded in the first and allowed three homers in the second before manager Rob Thomson pulled him.

Mercado threw 57 pitches (29 strikes). He is scheduled to start Saturday against the A’s at Citizens Bank Park, but the Phillies will explore their options.

Phillips is one of them.

“We have to discuss some things,” Thomson said.