Phillies place Zach Eflin, Zack Wheeler on COVID injured list

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Phillies' rotation plans change as Eflin and Wheeler hit COVID-related IL originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The week ahead keeps getting more and more difficult for the Phillies.

On top of having to fly to Seattle to begin a 7-game West Coast trip after a doubleheader Sunday, they'll be without two members of their starting rotation.

Zach Eflin and Zack Wheeler were placed on the COVID-related injured list Sunday morning.

Eflin was supposed to start Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader against the Mets. Instead, the assignment goes to left-hander Cristopher Sanchez, who was called up as the 27th man.

The Phillies also called up reliever Connor Brogdon and 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Francisco Morales from Double A, where he had a 0.55 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 16 innings this season.

Wheeler's next start was scheduled for Tuesday in Seattle.

There is no minimum length such as 7 or 10 days for a stint on the COVID-related injured list. In April, the Phillies placed closer Corey Knebel on the COVID-related IL and he returned a day later when a saliva test came back negative.

The Phillies have very little starting pitching depth beyond their main group of Wheeler, Eflin, Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson and Ranger Suarez. They recently optioned Bailey Falter to Triple A to stretch out as a starter. He's made two starts, topping out at 40 pitches over three innings.

Beyond Sanchez, Falter would likely be the Phillies' next option for a spot start. Long reliever Nick Nelson also becomes more important. The only other minor-league starting pitchers on the Phillies' 40-man roster are Hans Crouse -- who is off to a rough start at Triple A and hasn't pitched since April 20 -- and 6-foot-7 right-hander James McArthur, who has an 8.27 ERA at Double A. The Phils could also use an opener in those spots.

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