Phillies injury update on Andrew Painter; Ranger Suarez to debut in Colorado
Update on Andrew Painter; Ranger Suarez set to debut this weekend originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
A surprising face was at Citizens Bank Park Tuesday afternoon before the Phillies opened a series against the Blue Jays: injured top pitching prospect Andrew Painter.
Painter was in town for two days to be seen by the Phillies' medical staff and pitching coaches and participate in a throwing program.
"We just wanted to get eyes on him," manager Rob Thomson said.
Painter is rehabbing a strain of the UCL in his throwing arm. His rehab process involved rest rather than surgery and he is being built back up slowly.
The 20-year-old entered the spring vying for the No. 5 spot in the Phillies' rotation and had an impressive Grapefruit League debut against the Twins, throwing an upper-90s fastball that caught the attention of big-league hitters. But he came away from that start with soreness in his elbow and that was the end of the fifth starter's battle with Bailey Falter.
Painter has been throwing out to 120 feet. The Phillies will progress him to pitching off of flat ground next week and see how it goes.
"He hasn't had any setbacks," Thomson said. "Everything's been going fine."
Painter was a teenager until April 10. Had he made the Phillies' rotation out of spring training, he would have been the first player from the first round of his draft class to make it to the majors despite the fact that he came out of high school.
The Phillies still hope Painter can help them at some point this summer. Best-case scenario, he provides them with a fresh arm at the back of the rotation down the stretch.
If Painter can make it back this season, the injury will have helped preserve his innings count. He pitched 103⅔ innings at three different minor-league levels in 2022, his first full year as a pro, and his workload would have become a big topic if he entered the year on a normal starter's pace.
In 109⅔ minor-league innings, Painter has a 1.48 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, he's struck out 167, walked just 25 and allowed five home runs. He entered the season as the No. 5-ranked prospect in the minors by Baseball America, No. 6 by MLB.com.
Suarez to debut in Colorado
Ranger Suarez' season debut will come this weekend at Coors Field. The Phillies will make a decision Wednesday as to which game.
Suarez (elbow) made three starts during his rehab assignment and allowed one run and seven baserunners over nine innings. He went through five innings on just 48 pitches Saturday for Double A Reading, enough efficiency that he had to go into the bullpen for his final 15.
The Phillies feel comfortable with Suarez at five innings and 75 to 80 pitches for his first big-league start of 2023.
He'll be a welcomed addition to a pitching staff that entered Tuesday night's game with a 5.03 ERA, the fifth-worst in baseball. Suarez has a 2.91 ERA in 41 starts the last two seasons. He's replacing Matt Strahm, who has already shifted from the rotation to the bullpen and picked up his first save as a Phillie Sunday with two innings against the Red Sox.
The Phillies will be careful with Strahm, who is already 65 percent of the way toward his innings total from a year ago. He will not appear in back-to-back games of relief for a while, but he will be able to provide the Phillies length out of the 'pen at least once a week.