Phillies: Rotation, Spencer Howard, possible doubleheader

The tarp is seen on the field at Yankee Stadium (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
The tarp is seen on the field at Yankee Stadium (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Phillies manager Joe Girardi provided some pitching updates ahead of their series opener against the Yankees

After having more than a week off, Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi has a message for his pitchers: “I don’t need heroes. I need honesty.”

The Phillies’ lengthy pause does not bode well for the health of their players in a game that is known for repetition. In what was a 66-day, 60-game sprint is now a 56-day, 57-game sprint for the 1-2 Phillies, who are being cautious about overusing their pitchers after being inactive for so long — which, in part, is why veteran Jake Arrieta is the first to see the starting nod in their return.

Every Phillies pitcher is well-rested, so why Arrieta when the team has right-handed aces Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler to turn to? Girardi says the former Cy Young Award winner threw most recently (Wednesday) and the other starters required bullpen sessions this past weekend.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Phillies are coming off of the longest drought between games for an MLB team since the Arizona Diamondbacks (also seven days between games), who began the 2014 season in Australia.

On Monday, Girardi returns to his former stomping grounds for the first time in regular season action, as the Phillies resume play in the shortened 2020 season opposite Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees.

Prior to the game, the skipper set the Phillies rotation for the remainder of the week; following Arrieta, Nola will pitch on Tuesday (assuming the weather holds up amid the tropical storm Isaias), and Wheeler will pitch back home on Wednesday, before Zach Eflin in the four-game home-and-home series finale on Thursday. Then, Vince Velasquez will get another chance starting Friday in the series opener against the division-leading Atlanta Braves.

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Preparing for Isaias

UPDATE: Tuesday’s game at Yankee Stadium has been postponed due to Isaias. The game will be made up as a doubleheader on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. The Yankees will bat last in one of the games. Game 1 is set for 4:05 p.m., according to the New York Post’s George A. King III. It is not yet known if Nola and Wheeler will start both games on Wednesday.

According to ESPN’s Marly Rivera, the Yankees and Phillies are mulling to play a doubleheader in Philadelphia on Wednesday or Thursday if Tuesday’s game is rained out. One of those games would have the Yankees as the home team, similar to how the Blue Jays did so 10 years ago at Citizens Bank Park opposite their former ace Roy Halladay.

In the doubleheader, as per MLB and MLBPA’s recent agreement, both games would last seven innings. If the score is tied and causes the game to reach extras (i.e., the eighth inning), the runner on second rule would begin to apply for each half-inning thereafter.

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When will Spencer Howard debut?

When asked whether top pitching prospect Spencer Howard will be called up in the near future, Girardi said the team has no set date for his promotion and debut but in the meantime have been focused on his pitching at the alternate training site.

The right-hander last threw on Friday, and Girardi said he was encouraged from his performance.

As The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber notes, while Howard is not currently set to appear in the majors this week, Mother Nature may play a factor in leaving the Phillies no choice but to give him a start.

“If the Phillies get rained out Tuesday, Howard could line up to start one game in a possible Wednesday doubleheader vs. Yankees,” Lauber writes. “Or, if Phillies stayed on rotation, [with Arrieta next pitching on Saturday], Howard could fill in Sunday vs. Braves.”

Reggie McClain, Enyel De Los Santos

Prior to Monday’s game, the Phillies placed right-handed reliever Reggie McClain on the paternity list and recalled fellow righty Enyel De Los Santos from the team’s alternate training site.

In two relief appearances this season, McClain yielded two hits, one earned run (solo home run), and one walk, while striking out none of his nine batters faced en route to a 4.50 ERA.

De Los Santos, the Phillies’ No. 8-ranked prospect, went 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in five games (one start) with the team last season.