Phillies set starting rotation for first 4 games of season

Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Phillies manager Joe Girardi has set the starting rotation

Philadelphia Phillies regular season baseball returns Friday evening, with Aaron Nola taking the mound for his third straight Opening Day.

Now, we know who will be the team’s starting pitcher for following three games, concluding the season-opening series opposite the Miami Marlins and opening the four-game home-and-home set against the New York Yankees on Monday.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi confirmed to reporters on Wednesday that the rotation will go as follows: Nola (Friday vs. MIA), Zack Wheeler (Saturday vs. MIA), Vince Velasquez (Sunday vs. MIA), and Jake Arrieta (Monday vs. NYY).

It had been speculated that Wheeler, one of the Phillies’ top free-agent signings, would miss some time to start the season on paternity leave. Now, that will not be a factor. Girardi confirmed that Wheeler and his wife had their first baby Monday evening, and that Wheeler will be ready to go to get the starting nod in the second contest of the 60-game slate on Saturday.

RELATED | Phillies: Innings per game is key for starting rotation

Who will start the fifth game of the season, Tuesday evening at home against the Yankees, is not yet known. The Phillies could turn to Zach Eflin, who is recovering from back spasms suffered recently in summer camp. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber, the right-hander’s status will be determined after his simulated game outing on Thursday, which is expected to be four innings and 60 pitches.

Eflin had been long slated as the team’s No. 4 starter this offseason, but Velasquez has recently impressed — including a strong showing against the Yankees in Monday’s exhibition finale —to fill the spot.

Having Wheeler for a full slate is a huge plus for the Phillies. Not to mention, there is still a chance of an expanded postseason, which would give Girardi’s squad another lift.