More questions arise for the Phillies as Eflin and Howard both deal with injuries
With two weeks to go until Opening Day, the Philadelphia Phillies have some concerns surrounding their starting rotation. Zach Eflin pitched four shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers last Saturday, he put in some extra time in the bullpen. Given the fact that Eflin only threw 39 pitches over four innings, allowing just two hits, walking none, and striking out four, there was still room to get his workload up in the bullpen after the game.
During that time, Eflin’s back “flared up”. Eflin will not make his scheduled start on Friday and Joe Girardi stated yesterday that he has made only slight improvements and started to play catch as of yesterday. Regardless, the Phillies, who expected to have Eflin pitch on April 4th as their third man in the starting rotation, is now uncertain to be healthy by Opening Day.
Girardi seemed a little concerned yesterday and hopes to have Eflin back on the mound as soon as possible. We are now at the stage of Spring Training in which teams typically start focusing on roster positions for Opening Day. The Phillies should be fine-tuning their rosters and player goals should simply be “remain healthy” moving forward. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the opposite of what’s happening for the Phillies.
- Brad Miller is sidelined with an oblique injury and his status is unknown for Opening Day.
- Matt Joyce, who has played well in Spring Training and is looking for a roster spot, has been out with hamstring soreness.
- Didi Gregorius took a pitch to the back of his helmet last Tuesday and will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
- Spencer Howard was scratched from his scheduled appearance on Monday due to back spasms and as of Wednesday, was still dealing with the same issues. There’s no timetable for return.
Spencer Howard definitely hurts the Phillies. If anything happened to the Phillies’ projected starting rotation of Nola, Wheeler, Eflin, Moore, and Anderson, the team was relying on Howard to step in as the sixth man for the starting rotation. Obviously, with the recent injury news, that is no longer an option for now.
The Phillies will most likely turn to Vincent Velasquez, who holds a place on the team’s 40-man roster, if Eflin and/or Howard are unable to pitch come April. Girardi is also looking at other options, which explains why Ivan Nova is getting the start for the Phillies tomorrow. Nova is on a minor league deal and is looking for a roster spot. It is interesting that Girardi opted to go with Nova over Velasquez, but maybe they just wanted to get one final look at Nova before making a decision. It’s safe to say that the Phillies know exactly what they are getting from Velasquez already.
All Spring, Velasquez has looked like a trade candidate. Now, that might not be an option for the Phillies as they navigate themselves through the final weeks of Spring Training and a handful of injuries with their rotation pitchers.
As with everything in Spring Training, we just have to wait and see how things play out. For all we know, Howard and Eflin could be feeling good as new next week and none of this even becomes an issue. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.