Phillies injury updates on Spencer Howard, J.T. Realmuto, and Zack Wheeler
The Philadelphia Phillies are in the home stretch of their shortened 2020 season. Exactly two weeks remain, with 17 games still needing to be played — two of which coming Sunday via a doubleheader against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park.
Staying healthy will be a key factor for the Joe Girardi-led squad to maintain one of eight National League postseason spots. However, in recent days, three key members of the team — Spencer Howard, J.T. Realmuto, and Zack Wheeler — have been unable to do so with their recent injuries.
The Phillies top pitching prospect took the mound on Saturday for his sixth start of the season; things were going well to start, as he struck out five batters spanning three scoreless innings.
However, in the fourth, the right-hander surrendered a three-run home run to Brian Anderson. It was afterward that Girardi and the team trainer visited Howard on the mound, learned it had taken him a few pitches to get loose every inning, and decided to remove him.
The Phillies later announced Howard had right shoulder stiffness, and Howard told reporters after the game that he had been experiencing tightness over the last few days.
Howard tested well with trainers but will be evaluated more on Sunday.
After going 2-for-4 with a walk during Saturday’s 12-6 win against the Marlins, it was Realmuto’s last plate appearance in the eighth that has drawn the most attention.
The Phillies catcher left the game with hip discomfort, feeling something while running to first base during his eighth-inning groundout. The TV broadcast showed Realmuto walk into the dugout tunnel with a trainer shortly after his groundout. Andrew Knapp pinched hit for him in the top of the ninth and finished the game as the backup catcher.
Afterward, Girardi said the Phillies have to see how Realmuto is on Sunday and “keep our fingers crossed.”
Wheeler threw before Saturday’s game and felt well after his freak fingernail injury, however, his next start has been pushed back for the second time — from both his originally scheduled Saturday and Monday starts.
Girardi told reporters after the game that he did not even give the right-hander a choice to try to start in Monday’s series finale against the Marlins, as he fears Wheeler could do further damage and be sidelined for the rest of the season.
While there is no current timeline as to how long Howard and Realmuto will be sidelined, Girardi says that he expects Wheeler will start in the upcoming series against the New York Mets.