Joe Girardi made a few minor changes to the Phillies rotation to set the team up for a stretch run during the final week of the season.
Zack Wheeler was originally scheduled to start Sunday against the Marlins, with Matt Moore getting the ball Monday for the series opener in Milwaukee. Wheeler’s start has been moved to Monday. The Phillies will go with a “bullpen game” on Sunday. Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson will start on Tuesday and Wednesday as originally planned.
“It doesn’t change the amount of starts [Wheeler] has,” Girardi said on 94 WIP before Friday’s game. “We like the way it lines up better moving through the rest of this month. We’ll use everybody to mix and match on Sunday. We just like the way it sets up moving forward.”
Girardi said that it’s possible that one pitcher gets the bulk of the innings on Sunday. They don’t have a tradition long reliever in the bullpen, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Moore does end up pitching at some point on Sunday. Vince Velasquez (blister) is currently on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies are trying to stretch him out as a traditional starter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll return to the rotation once he’s ready.
It won’t matter if the Phillies struggle over the next few weeks, but the rotation is lined up almost perfectly for the final week of the season. They’ll play three games in Atlanta and three games in Miami to wrap up the regular season. Wheeler will pitch the opener in Atlanta and the finale in Miami. Nola and Gibson will also get the ball in the all-important head-to-head matchup against the Braves.
The 28-man September rosters mean bullpen games will be less strenuous on a team’s relief core. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Phillies schedule a few more “bullpen games” when the No. 5 spot in the rotation is up. Moore has not been reliable since his six shutout inning performance against Cincinnati last month. He has an 8.49 ERA in his last three starts and has pitched no more than 4 1/3 innings in a start. His starts have essentially become bullpen games.
Here is how the rotation lines up for the final 28 games of the season.
- Sept. 4 vs. Miami – Suárez
- Sept. 5 vs. Miami – Bullpen game
- Sept. 6 vs. Milwaukee – Wheeler
- Sept. 7 vs. Milwaukee – Nola
- Sept. 8 vs. Milwaukee – Gibson
- Sept. 9 vs. Colorado – Suárez
- Sept. 10 vs. Colorado – No. 5/Moore
- Sept. 11 vs. Colorado – Wheeler
- Sept. 12 vs. Colorado – Nola
- Sept. 14 vs. Chicago – Gibson
- Sept. 15 vs. Chicago – Suárez
- Sept. 16 vs. Chicago – No. 5/Moore
- Sept. 17 vs. New York – Wheeler
- Sept. 18 vs. New York – Nola
- Sept. 19 vs. New York – Gibson
- Sept. 20 vs. Baltimore – Suárez
- Sept. 21 vs. Baltimore – No. 5/Moore
- Sept. 22 vs. Baltimore – Wheeler
- Sept. 23 vs. Pittsburgh – Nola
- Sept. 24 vs. Pittsburgh – Gibson
- Sept. 25 vs. Pittsburgh – Suárez
- Sept. 26 vs. Pittsburgh – No. 5/Moore
- Sept. 28 vs. Atlanta – Wheeler
- Sept. 29 vs. Atlanta – Nola
- Sept. 30 vs. Atlanta – Gibson
- Oct 1. vs. Miami – Suárez
- Oct. 2 vs. Miami – No. 5/Moore
- Oct. 3 vs. Miami – Wheeler
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