The Phillies placed starter Zack Wheeler on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to August 22, with tendinitis in his right forearm. Bailey Falter is expected to start tomorrow in his place.
Aside from a brief stay on the COVID list in May, Wheeler has remained on the active roster since signing with Philadelphia heading into the 2020 season. While any mention of forearm discomfort for a pitcher is eyebrow-raising, the Phils don’t seem particularly concerned. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Wheeler was willing to pitch through the issue, but the club is hopeful that by skipping two starts, he can put it in the rearview mirror (via Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Todd Zolecki of MLB.com).
Last year’s NL Cy Young runner-up, Wheeler has remained a pivotal part of the starting five this season. Through 23 starts, he owns a 3.07 ERA with a 26.7% strikeout rate. The right-hander’s production isn’t quite at the level it was last year, but he ranks among the top 30 hurlers (minimum 100 innings) in ERA and strikeout percentage. Any downturn in performance is essentially attributable to this month, as Wheeler has a 4.44 ERA over his past four starts after carrying a 2.77 mark into August.
Falter seems likely to plug the rotation gap for a couple turns through the rotation, with the hope that Wheeler returns at full strength for the season’s final month. The Phillies have been one of baseball’s hottest teams, and they carry a 69-55 record into play tonight. Philadelphia is in possession of the second Wild Card spot in the National League, holding a 3 1/2 game cushion over the Brewers (with the Padres in between the two clubs).