10:00am: Phillies manager Joe Girardi has told reporters, including Alex Coffey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, that Zack Wheeler is also going on the Covid list. The club will now be doubly challenged to get through their next stretch of games with their rotation down two key members. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com adds that Connor Brogdon will be taking Wheeler’s spot on the roster.
9:00 am: The Phillies have announced that right-hander Zach Eflin has been placed on the Covid-related injured list. Fellow righty Francisco Morales has been recalled to take his place on the roster. Additionally, with the club playing a doubleheader today, left-hander Cristopher Sanchez will be up with the club as the team’s 27th man.
Players can be placed on the Covid list if they test positive, are exhibiting symptoms or due to contact tracing measures. The club hasn’t provided further information about which of these applies to Eflin. Under the league’s 2022 health-and-safety protocols, players who test positive are subject to a 10-day absence from the club, though it’s possible to be reinstated in less time if the player has gone 24 or more hours without a fever, received a pair of negative PCR tests, and been given approval from a team physician and the MLB/MLBPA joint committee (a panel of one league-appointed and one union-appointed physician). Players who are experiencing symptoms but do not test positive can return in shorter order if their symptoms abate.
The Phillies were rained out both yesterday and Friday, meaning their pitching staff should be fairly rested, but also that they are playing a doubleheader today. They will then be traveling out west to play three games against the Mariners and four against the Dodgers, before their next off-day on May 16th. As long as Eflin is out of action, the rotation will be down to the foursome of Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson, Ranger Suarez and Zack Wheeler. Sanchez and Morales both have started in the minors but have been working out of their bullpen so far this year.
Gibson should be able to handle one game today, as he last started April 30. Eflin would have been in line to start the other game but will need to be replaced. Suarez last pitched on May 3, meaning he could theoretically slot in and take another game on regular rest, although the club hasn’t yet another their plans for today. In that scenario, both Gibson and Suarez would be lined up to pitch again on regular rest on Friday. Wheeler and Nola can then take the ball on Monday and Tuesday, but then the club would need a plan for both Wednesday and Thursday. Another option would be to have a bullpen day in the second game of the doubleheader today, saving Suarez for Monday and bumping Wheeler and Nola down the line. Regardless of how it plays out, the club will need to strategically maneuver through the week, unless Eflin is able to return quickly.