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Updates on Wheeler, Brogdon and Alvarado plus NL East injury news


Zack Wheeler threw 45 pitches in an intrasquad game on Saturday against Phillies Single-A hitters. He told reporters, including Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, that he experienced no soreness and is on track to pitch the first week of the regular season. Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that Wheeler is expected to throw 60 pitches on Thursday in another intrasquad game in Clearwater in preparation for his first start of the season, which is scheduled to be April 12 against the Mets.

Zack Wheeler is expected to make his regular season debut on April 12. (Cheryl Pursell)

Meanwhile, Connor Brogdon’s status for Opening Day is now “questionable,” according to Joe Girardi. Girardi told reporters that Brogdon played catch on Saturday after dealing with an illness that kept him away from camp for a couple days. Brogdon last pitched in the Grapefruit League on March 30, but his declining velocity has put into question his readiness for the beginning of the season.

José Alvarado (neck stiffness) is expected to make his spring debut on Sunday against Detroit, per Zolecki. Alvarado was shut down from throwing last week when his neck “locked up.”

NL East Injury News

Both the Mets and Atlanta Braves received some tough injury news on the pitching side over the weekend.

Mets ace Jacob deGrom has been shut down from throwing for four weeks as an MRI revealed “a stress reaction on his scapula that has cause inflammation in the area.” When factoring in the time needed to build back up, deGrom is in danger of missing the first two months of the season if he is able to resume throwing in four weeks.

Max Scherzer is also dealing with a hamstring injury that scratched him from an intrasquad game on Saturday. He told reporters that his status is “day-to-day” and hasn’t ruled out pitching on Opening Day. If Scherzer pitches for the Mets either Thursday or Friday, he’s lined up to make his next start against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It’s also possible that Scherzer’s first start is moved back to the Phillies series or he misses the Phillies entirely either by pitching Saturday or Sunday or not being healthy enough to pitch the first week.

For Atlanta, reliever Luke Jackson underwent an MRI that revealed damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. The Braves and Jackson are evaluating the next steps, but UCL damage usually leads to a player undergoing Tommy John surgery. Jackson, 30, was one of Atlanta’s most dependable arms during the team’s championship run. He posted a 1.98 ERA in 71 regular season games in 2021. While the Braves bullpen depth, even without Jackson, is nothing short of spectacular, the news is concerning for the defending World Series champions.

deGrom’s injury, of course, is by far the most impactful in the NL East. The Phillies play 19 games against the Mets this season and 13 of those matchups will occur within the first two months of the season. It’s possible that the Phillies won’t face deGrom until August, when the two teams play each other six times in a span of ten days.

Then again, everything evens out in the end. The Phillies will open their first series against Atlanta on May 23. Ronald Acuña Jr. should be back in the Braves lineup by then after suffering a torn ACL last July.

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