Will Phillies get creative with their starting pitching rotation this weekend?

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Will Phillies get creative with their starting pitching rotation this weekend? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The unusual nature of June's schedule could allow the Phillies to get their top starting pitchers on the mound more often over the next few weeks.

The Phils were to have seven off days in the month. Wednesday's rainout in Cincinnati ate up one of those off days as the team will now have to return to that city on June 28 — previously an off day — for a makeup game, but even six off days in a month is more than usual.

Manager Joe Girardi has not made any promises, but he did say Tuesday that optimizing Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin this month was a possibility.

"We're talking about it," Girardi said.

Wednesday's rainout could allow the Phillies to use Wheeler, Eflin and Nola in the next three games.

Rookie Spencer Howard was scheduled to start Wednesday's game in Cincinnati.

The Phillies have not yet announced how the rainout will impact their pitching plans after Thursday's scheduled off day. It's possible that Howard could simply stay on turn and pitch Friday night's series opener against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. But it's also possible that the Phillies will keep Wheeler on his scheduled day Friday and skip Howard in the rotation. That would make sense because Wheeler, who last pitched on Saturday, would already be pitching on his sixth day and the team probably would not want to have a pitcher of his quality go a week between starts. Also, the team is trying to keep Howard's workload in check and skipping him on Friday could help in that effort.

Eflin is scheduled to pitch Saturday on an extra day of rest. He could stay put if Wheeler stays in turn on Friday.

The Phils could get creative on Sunday, move Vince Velasquez back and insert Nola on that day at full rest. Or they could stick with Velasquez (or Howard, for that matter) on Sunday and save Nola for the opener of a series against Atlanta on extra rest Tuesday.

Time will tell which way the Phillies go, but they have options.

The trio of Nola, Wheeler and Eflin has been the strength that the Phillies envisioned. The threesome has pitched to a 3.46 ERA in 34 starts. However, the team has not fully capitalized on the work of its top three starters. The Phillies are 16-18 in games started by Nola, Wheeler and Eflin. That must change and change fast if the Phillies are going to stay in the NL East race. They woke up Wednesday at 26-29, four games back in the division, trailing the Mets and Braves.

The Phils opened the month of June by laying a 17-3 beating on the Reds on Tuesday night. Friday night's game against Washington is the first of 14 division games for the Phillies this month.

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