Injury concerns starting to mount for Phillies

Spencer Howard injured his shoulder
With a little more than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Phillies are facing some serious issues regarding their starting rotation. Spencer Howard left Saturday's 12-6 win with stiffness in his right shoulder.

Howard said afterward that he had been dealing with stiffness all week and that he was having difficulty getting loose. He'll be evaluated further on Sunday. It's important to note that Howard missed two months last year with shoulder fatigue.

Howard is hopeful that he'll make his next start, but that remains uncertain.

“It’s probably too early to say," Howard said. "But that’s the goal, so that’s what I’m shooting for.”

The other injury facing the rotation is with Zack Wheeler who is nursing an issue with the nail on his right middle finger. He injured the nail on Wednesday while putting pants on. He's had nail issues in the past, but this time he's in danger of losing the nail. If that happens, he'll be shutdown for the season.

The plan for the Phillies originally had Wheeler starting on Monday, but that now won't happen. Instead, Vince Velasquez will likely slide into that spot in the rotation. Wheeler did workout a bit before Saturday's contest, throwing about 60 balls from 90 feet. Manager Joe Girardi said it was encouraging.

“But we were committed to not starting him on Monday right now because our fear is if he loses the nail, it could be the rest of the season,” Girardi said. “If that nail comes off, he’s done for the year. We just said, ‘We’re not taking a chance.’ There’s healing that’s taking place. The maximum that he can get is three more starts anyway, so let’s be smart about it and give it as much time to heal as possible so when you do come back you feel normal.”

Another concern
J.T. Realmuto was lifted in the ninth inning of Saturday's contest with hip discomfort. Girardi said Realmuto felt something while running to first base in the eighth. He came out and played behind the dish in the ninth, but was pinch-hit for in the ninth.

“We’ll evaluate him tomorrow and see where he’s at,” Girardi said.

With a doubleheader set for Sunday, the Phillies may have to make a roster move to get a backup catcher to Miami.

Doubleheader Sunday
Zach Eflin will pitch on of Sunday's two games for the Phillies. There's been no formal announcement regarding the other contest. It's possible the Phillies again rely on the bullpen to piece together an outing.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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