According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen, the Phillies announced late Tuesday afternoon who will be pitching next time through in the starting rotation.
Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Jake Arietta will all start in the upcoming weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays, assuming everything goes to plan. Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez will start next Tuesday and Wednesday to begin a three-game series against the Miami Marlins. It remains to be seen whether or not that series will take place in either Miami or Philadelphia, let alone at all.
This weekend’s series against the Blue Jays has been moved to Citizens Bank Park as the Blue Jays new home for this year, their Triple-A stadium in Buffalo, will not be ready yet as the lighting inside the ballpark needs to be upgraded. For the second time in ten years, the Phillies are slated to be the away team at Citizens Bank Park against the Jays.
Other than giving up a costly two-run home run to Jesus Aguilar and taking the loss, Nola looked sharp on Opening Day. He struck out seven over 5 1/3 innings. Wheeler put together an impressive first outing as a Phillie on Saturday afternoon, becoming just the first Phillies pitcher to induce four double plays in a single outing since Cliff Lee did in 2013 against the Giants. The former New York Met gave up just five hits and one run while striking out four Marlins hitters over seven strong innings. Velasquez struggled in his first start of the season after putting together an impressive summer camp. The 28-year-old struggled with his command beginning in the second inning which resulted in him giving up a 4-0 lead.
Arietta and Eflin will get their first nods of the season on Sunday and Tuesday respectively. Both were scheduled to pitch Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees before the series was postponed. Arietta posted an 8-8 record with a 4.64 ERA over 135 2/3 innings last year while Eflin posted a 10-13 record with a 4.13 ERA over 163 1/3 innings. The extended time off could be in Eflin’s favor as he was battling some back stiffness prior to the start of the season.
It is worth noting that top Phillies prospect Spencer Howard can be called up to the big leagues for the Phillies’ next game and remain on the roster for the duration of the season without accumulating a year of service time. Howard was sent to Lehigh Valley with the Phillies taxi squad to start the season so the Phillies can gain an extra year of control before he reaches free agency.
Even if the 24-year-old does not see himself in the Phillies rotation in the coming days, the right-hander will be up with the big-league squad sooner rather than later in some capacity especially if guys like Velasquez and Eflin struggle.
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