Injuries are piling on for the Phillies at the worst time

In Saturday’s game, both Spencer Howard and J.T. Realmuto were removed after suffering injuries. Joe Girardi provided updates after yesterday’s 12-6 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Realmuto left Saturday’s game with hip discomfort. (Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire)

Howard left the game with right shoulder stiffness. Out of caution, Girardi and the training staff decided to take Howard out of the game after he surrendered a three-run home run to Brian Anderson. He tested well with trainers, but had not undergone any diagnostic testing prior to the conclusion of Saturday’s game.

The Phillies top pitching prospect had a tough time warming up in between innings. Howard missed two months to shoulder fatigue last season in the minor leagues, but he feels this injury is less severe.

“It is a comparable sensation,” Howard said after the game. “Last year, it was pretty sharp and aggressive when I did throw and this one felt a little rusty and a little slow. I’m not necessarily concerned about it.”

Howard thinks it’s too early to say for sure if he can make his next scheduled start. With Zack Wheeler missing time with a fingernail issue, the Phillies cannot afford any more injuries to the rotation. The issue is compounded when considering the team has three doubleheaders in the next 10 days.

J.T. Realmuto left the game in the ninth inning with hip discomfort. He sustained the injury in the top of the eighth when he ran down the first-base line after hitting a ground ball. Andrew Knapp replaced him in the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter. Realmuto will be reevaluated before Sunday’s doubleheader.

Before Saturday’s game, Wheeler played catch as he was slated to do. He threw the ball around 60 times up to 90 feet and “it came out pretty well,” according to Girardi.

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They are not committing to having him start Monday’s finale in Miami. The team has to be extremely cautious with Wheeler’s right middle fingernail because if it falls off, Wheeler could miss the remainder of the season.

However, Girardi anticipates Wheeler will start at some point during the upcoming Mets series at Citizens Bank Park.

Scott Kingery, Roman Quinn, Jay Bruce and José Álvarez are also on the injured list. Kingery and Quinn are not expected to come off the list by the end of the Marlins series while Álvarez is out for the remainder of the regular season. Bruce is eligible to come off IL Wednesday, but will probably need more time.

To make matters worse, if Realmuto needs to go on the IL, the Phillies do not have a third catcher on the 40-man roster. The team will most likely select Rafael Marchan’s contract and designate a pitcher for assignment. Marchan is not on the Phillies taxi squad in Miami, which consists of only pitchers Ramón Rosso and Garrett Cleavinger. They might only have one true catcher available to play for the remainder of the Marlins series.

Wheeler’s status shifts the order of the rotation. Zach Eflin will pitch game one. Game two will most likely be a bullpen game as they are better suited to have one in a seven-inning game with an additional pitcher available to them. Don’t be surprised if Rosso is selected as the 29th man and pitches multiple innings in game two. Vince Velasquez will most likely start Monday.

Former Phillies top prospect Sixto Sanchez is scheduled to pitch in game two on Sunday.


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