Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler won’t return Tuesday as previously expected.
Things have not been looking good lately for the Philadelphia Phillies. The club has lost four of its last five games — outscored 45 to 29.
Then, some injury concerns: Corey Knebel is ruled out for the season, Seranthony Dominguez has been sidelined since mid-August, and Zach Eflin has not pitched since June but could return later this month in a long relief role.
But perhaps the most worrisome news relates to ace starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, as the 2021 National League Cy Young Award runner-up has missed his two turns in the rotation due to elbow soreness.
Wheeler was slated to throw a bullpen session this weekend in San Francisco — and if everything went well, the right-hander would start in Tuesday’s six-game homestand opener against the Miami Marlins.
However, before Friday’s blowout loss to the Gabe Kapler-led Giants, a troublesome update was shared regarding Wheeler’s injury status. According to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, the organization is “slowing down” Wheeler’s return after he felt more of the same elbow soreness as he has in recent days.
There is at least some glimmer of hope for the eight-year veteran returning in time for a potential Wild Card series. Interim Manager Rob Thomson said he has “zero” level of concern, and an MRI revealed inflammation but no structural damage.
Wheeler’s bullpen session has now been pushed back to next week.
A previous report said that the Phillies are “very optimistic” that Wheeler would just miss the minimum number of days. That has not come to fruition. One has to wonder if the Phillies will eventually have Wheeler return to the mound — even if his soreness does not fully go away. After all, the team is the closest to a postseason berth as it has been since their 2011 National League East division title.
For now, the Phillies will roll with their healthy starting pitchers — Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson, Ranger Suarez, Noah Syndergaard, Bailey Falter, and possibly Cristopher Sánchez if they want to go with a six-man rotation.