Phillies injury news: Jerad Eickhoff strong in rehab start

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 17: Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff #48 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park on June 17, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 17: Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff #48 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park on June 17, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff made progress in returning from his upper back strain with a solid rehab start with Double-A Reading Tuesday night.

The Phillies rotation has been decimated by injury this season as every starter from the Opening Day rotation besides Jeremy Hellickson has spent time on the disabled list. It has been a key part in why the team has struggled so much this season.

Jerad Eickhoff has been just one of several starters to hit the disabled list the season. He went on the disabled list June 20 after suffering an upper back strain in a start June 17. This is the first time Eickhoff has hit the disabled list in his entire professional career.

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Eickhoff made a rehab start with Double-A Reading Tuesday night and did not suffer any setbacks during the start. He threw 57 pitches in five innings, giving up a lone run on a solo home run. Eickhoff also recorded five strikeouts and gave up just one walk.

With no red flags, Tom Dougherty of CSNPhilly.com said Eickhoff could return from the disabled list Sunday against the Padres just before the All-Star Break.

That would be his next turn in the rotation, but it seems unlikely the team would push him to return just before the break when they could wait until after it is over and make sure Eickhoff is 100 percent.

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When Eickhoff does return from the disabled list, the hope is that he can turn his season around. He had a 4.93 ERA, 7.63 K/9, 3.52 BB/9, and 1.53 WHIP in 14 starts this season. He is still looking for his first win of the season, already taking seven losses this season.

In the meantime, Mark Leiter Jr. has been filling in for Eickhoff in the rotation. He has made three starts in place of Eickhoff. He has a 3.31 ERA but a 5.30 fielding-independent pitching in 16.1 innings with a 1.16 WHIP. He has been far more successful in the rotation compared to his time as a reliever earlier this season.

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Whenever Eickhoff does return, what happens with Leiter remains to be seen. Manager Pete Mackanin told Dougherty that he would like to have Leiter in the bullpen, but the decision ultimately falls to general manager Matt Klentak.

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