The Phillies are changing around their pitching staff today, as starters Zach Eflin and Zack Wheeler were placed on the COVID-19 Injured List. Three pitchers have been added to the roster, with Cristopher Sánchez being activated as the extra man for today’s doubleheader, and Connor Brogdon and Francisco Morales replacing Wheeler and Eflin on the 26-man roster.
The loss of both starters will test the Phils’ depth, as their rotation now sits at a combination of Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson and Ranger Suárez. Players on the COVID-19 IL can return to action earlier than usual if they receive the proper clearance. However, if one or both hurlers miss more than a few days, another starting pitcher will be needed. Sánchez and Nick Nelson are the likely candidates if spot starter is needed.
Wheeler struggled to begin the year, but has settled down of late. The soon-to-be 32-year-old owns a 4.10 ERA across 26.1 innings of work thus far. Eflin has similarly struggled over his first five contests, tossing 24.0 innings of 4.50 ERA work. Hopefully, a bit of time off will allow both pitchers to reset and get back to their rock solid forms.
The trio of pitchers that are coming up will add some fresh arms to a Phillies team that has dipped into its bullpen more than fans would like. The southpaw Sánchez has appeared in four games so far this year, striking out 10 and allowing six earned runs over 10 innings. Brogdon has tossed just two innings in the bigs in 2022, allowing two earned runs on four hits with one punchout. However, Brogdon was very effective in his rookie and sophomore campaigns, hurling 69.0 innings of 3.52 ERA ball. Morales will be getting his first taste of MLB action, as the 22-year-old Venezuelan came into this year at number 10 on the Phillies top 30 prospects list.
Ideally both Zach Eflin and Zack Wheeler will be back within a few days and the Phillies will be no worse for wear. However, if prolonged absences do occur, this will be a real test for the team’s pitching depth.