As the Philadelphia Phillies wait for a resolution on Zack Wheeler’s finger injury, they got more bad news in their starting rotation Sunday.
After leaving his start Saturday evening early with shoulder stiffness, the Phillies placed the rookie righty on the 10-day injured list Sunday. Connor Brogdon has been recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
For as dominant of a season as Howard had across three levels of the minor leagues a season ago, he only pitched 71 total innings because of a shoulder injury.
“It is a comparable sensation,” Howard said after Saturday’s 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.”
The Phillies sent Howard to the Arizona Fall League after the 2019 season concluded, where he racked up 21 1/3 more innings. Still, he threw less than 100 total innings in 2019, which left the Phillies in a position where over the course of a 162-game season, they would have had to manage his workload.
2020, of course, hasn’t been a 162-game season because of COVID-19, but the hope is 2021 will be. This injury will keep Howard from racking up additional innings, which will mean the Phillies have to closely monitor his workload in 2021. Given that he’s now had back-to-back seasons with shoulder injuries, the Phillies figure to be even more cautious with Howard in 2021.
In the meantime, the Phillies have lost one of their five starters in Joe Girardi’s current rotation. That’s on top of uncertainty about Wheeler’s status. What’s made worse is the lack of off days in the coming weeks. The Phillies have a doubleheader Sunday against the Miami Marlins, and next Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park. They don’t have a day off until Sept. 24.
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