Opening Day rainout forces Phillies to change early season rotation plans

The weather is already throwing a wrench into the Phillies' rotation plans for the first week of the season before a pitch has even been thrown.
Philadelphia Phillies starter Zack Wheeler
Philadelphia Phillies starter Zack Wheeler / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Earlier this month, the Philadelphia Phillies announced that Zack Wheeler would take the ball on Opening Day — displacing Aaron Nola, who had made the previous six starts for the club. After all, Wheeler had earned the start and, according to Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Nola even lobbied for the change during the offseason.

Unfortunately for the Phillies and their fans, the club's Opening Day was pushed back due to forecasted rain on Thursday. While Wheeler will still take the mound as scheduled against the Atlanta Braves on Friday afternoon, the organization had to change their rotation plans for the second series of the new campaign.

Early changes for the Phillies rotation

The way the schedule was set up prior to the postponement, the Phillies would have had an off day on Friday, giving their ace the opportunity to pitch on regular rest next Tuesday in Philadelphia against the Cincinnati Reds. According to Todd Zolecki of, that start will now be pushed back to Wednesday in the same series.

The loss of the off day also precludes the club from skipping their No. 5 starter Spencer Turnbull's first start for his new club. The newly acquired right-hander will now pitch on Tuesday so that Wheeler can get his regular rest.

As Zolecki indicated, Turnbull will likely be on a pitch and/or innings limit to begin the season. Due to injuries, he has only eclipsed 100 innings once in his career. The former Detroit Tigers starter missed all of the 2022 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Last season, the former second-round draft pick accumulated just 31 innings and sported an abysmal 7.26 ERA in that span.

As Turnbull continues to build up his arm strength, Phillies fans should not be overly concerned about his lost 2023 season. Prior to undergoing surgery, Turnbull had an impressive 2021 campaign before getting injured. In nine games, the right-hander had an ERA of 2.88 in 50 innings pitched and a sub-1.00 WHIP.

The rest of the rotation will be unaffected by the change. Nola will still get the ball on Saturday and will be followed by Ranger Suárez on Sunday to close out the Braves series. Cristopher Sánchez will take the hill on Monday to begin the Reds series.

This is just one of the many curveballs thrown at a club over the course of a season (pun fully intended). It just so happens that it's changing the Phillies' plans a little sooner than they had predicted. Either way, the rotation is still considered one of the top starting staffs in Major League Baseball, and this one little adjustment will not change that.