- 1. Career
Richard Orion Kerkering is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball (MLB). He made his MLB debut in 2023.
Kerkering attended Venice High School and the University of South Florida, where he played college baseball for the South Florida Bulls for three seasons. He began his junior season as a starting pitcher before becoming the Bulls' closer. Kerkering made 19 appearances with 10 starts and went 5–7 with three saves and a 5.72 ERA while striking out 91 batters over 67+2⁄3 innings pitched. In 2021, he played collegiate summer baseball with the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
The Philadelphia Phillies selected Kerkering in the fifth round of the 2022 Major League Baseball draft. After signing with the team, he was assigned to the Rookie-level Florida Complex League Phillies and was later promoted to the Single-A Clearwater Threshers.
Kerkering was returned to Clearwater at the beginning of the 2023 season and was promoted to the High-A Jersey Shore BlueClaws after pitching 10+1⁄3 scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts over nine relief appearances to begin the season. Kerkering was later promoted to the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils, and then to the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. In 49 combined appearances between Clearwater, Jersey Shore, Reading, and Lehigh Valley, Kerkering accumulated a 4–1 record and 1.51 ERA with 79 strikeouts and 14 saves in 53+2⁄3 innings pitched. For his efforts, Kerkering was named the winner of the organization's Paul Owens Award for pitcher for the 2023 season.
On September 22, 2023, Kerkering was selected to the 40-man roster and promoted to the major leagues for the first time. He made his MLB debut two days later pitching a 1-2-3 8th inning, including two strikeouts, against the New York Mets. On September 27, he picked up his first Major League win, after pitching a scoreless inning in a 7-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kerkering would be named to the team's Wild Card Series roster, and in Game 2 facing the Miami Marlins he pitched another 1-2-3 inning, again occurring in the 8th inning. This was a nine-pitch inning with eight strikes, coming within two strikes of a postseason immaculate inning.