The Phillies have set their starting pitching rotation coming out of the All-Star break.
Manager Rob Thomson had previously announced that Kyle Gibson and Zack Wheeler would start Friday and Saturday, respectively. Before Friday night’s game, Thomson announced that Bailey Falter would start Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Chicago Cubs. Ranger Suarez and Aaron Nola will pitch the first two games against Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday.
According to Thomson, the team wanted to maximize Nola’s rest. He will pitch on eight days’ rest. Nola ranks second in the majors with 126 2/3 innings.
Wheeler will be going on nine days’ rest when he faces the Cubs on Saturday night.
“We wanted them both to get extra time,” Thomson said. “We’ve been riding them.”
• Falter will move into Zach Eflin’s spot in the rotation.
The post-break news on Eflin was mixed. He had an MRI on his sore right knee Monday. It showed no structural damage. However, there is still no timetable for his return to the rotation.
Eflin has been sidelined since June 26 and feeling pain in the knee since tweaking it while making a fielding play on June 9. The initial diagnosis was a bruise on the fat pad (the soft tissue) under the kneecap. That issue has cleared. According to the Phillies’ medical staff, the pitcher is now dealing with patellofemoral pain.
Thomson said the plan was to treat Eflin’s condition with an aggressive program to strengthen the area around the knee. In the meantime, Eflin will be able to play catch, but he won’t throw off a mound.
"We don’t have a timeline on him but we’ll try to strengthen around the knee and once we feel like he’s recovering on a daily basis then we’ll start doing agility work, fielding work and get him up on the mound,” Thomson said.
Thomson said the team “fully expects” Eflin to pitch again this season.
The uncertainty of Eflin’s return likely has the Phillies looking to add starting pitching depth before the August 2 trade deadline.
Eflin has been plagued by knee problems in his career. He missed half of last season with a torn right patellar tendon.
• The news on Jean Segura was more promising. The second baseman continues to make fast progress in his recovery from a broken right index finger. He is hitting, throwing and doing all pre-game activities with the team. He could be ready to play in minor-league games sometime next week.
“I’m feeling really, really good,” he said.
Segura’s time on the 60-day injured list will expire August 3. He believes he could be ready to play in the majors when the Phillies open a homestand the next day.
“That might be a little aggressive,” Thomson said. “But I hope he is. We’ll see how he continues to progress.”
• The Phillies hope to get a boost from not only Segura down the stretch but Bryce Harper, as well. It’s not out of the question that Harper could be back sometime before the end of August. He will have his broken left thumb examined Monday. It’s possible he could have the pins that were used to stabilize the injury removed at the time. That would allow him to ramp up the pace of his rehab.
• Major League Baseball announced that Joalbert Angulo, a pitcher on the Phillies’ Dominican Summer League roster, was suspended 60 games for testing positive for a PED.
• While the Phillies were on the road last week, Citizens Bank Park hosted Elton John. His enormous stage did a job on the outfield grass. So, when the Phillies returned Friday, they were greeted by 34,000 square feet of new Kentucky bluegrass in the outfield. It took workers three days to complete the project.