PHILLIES

With Arrieta down and Wheeler back, games keep getting more important for banged-up Phillies

PHILLIES

The Phillies have had players go down this season with everything from bruised testicles to torn fingernails. They’ve had elbow injuries, hip injuries, quadriceps injuries, back injuries, a concussion and a tired shoulder.

Now, they have a hamstring injury.

“It felt like I got shot,” Jake Arrieta said of the pain that rocketed through his right leg in the sixth inning Tuesday night.

Arrieta picked up the pitching victory in an important 4-1 win over the New York Mets and after the game insisted that the hamstring injury that forced his exit was mild.

More will be known in the coming days, but it sure seems like the remainder of his season could be in jeopardy. 

“We’re pretty confident it’s just a Grade 1 strain, which is good news,” Arrieta said. “We’ll keep an eye on it and see how I feel tomorrow. I don’t intend on missing much time.”

That’s the problem. The Phils don’t have much time. Just 13 games remain in the regular season. Arrieta’s turn in the rotation will come up two more time.

Arrieta’s confidence for a quick recovery was based on the fact that he’d had a similar injury in September of 2017 and only missed 2 ½ weeks. He believes he better knows how to treat the injury now.

But, again, the Phillies don’t have 2 ½ weeks and they don’t have the luxury of sending a pitcher to the mound who is not 100 percent healthy. They are a game over .500 and every game represents a battle to make the playoffs. They can’t hand the ball to a pitcher whose back leg – the leg he pushes off the rubber with -- is compromised.

 

The Phillies lost starter Spencer Howard to a sore right shoulder over the weekend. They have two doubleheaders in the next week. The pitching was stretched thin even before Arrieta’s injury.

Where will the Phillies turn for pitching if Arrieta can’t answer the bell over the final couple of weeks?

“It’ll be a challenge,” manager Joe Girardi said. “But I’m just focused on tomorrow.”

You can’t blame Girardi for taking the remainder of the schedule in small chunks. On Wednesday night, the Phillies will get Zack Wheeler back a week after he had to miss a start after ripping the middle fingernail on his right hand.

Wheeler is scheduled to make three more starts and the Phillies need him to be really good in those starts. His effectiveness will be something to watch Wednesday night and he won’t have much room for error as he opposes Jacob deGrom, winner of the National League Cy Young award the last two seasons.

“The trainer said (the fingernail) looks good and he’s good to go now,” Girardi said. “I’m curious to see what happens, but he’s dealt with this before. He knows how to manage it. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Aaron Nola will pitch the series finale against the Mets on Thursday.

The Phillies really need to make some hay with their two best pitchers on the mound. The Phils are still without Rhys Hoskins, who went on the injured list with an elbow injury. J.T. Realmuto is day-to-day with a quad injury.

Before injuring his hamstring, Arrieta pitched his way out of some jams. He was supported by big hits from Adam Haseley and Didi Gregorius, who combined to drive in four two-out runs. The defense, particularly Alec Bohm at first base, and the bullpen were both exceptional as the Phillies broke a three-game losing streak.

“Nobody is going to concede and let us make our way to the postseason,” Arrieta said. “We have to continue to play good baseball regardless of the injuries we’ve sustained.

“We’ve had some bad news the last few days. Losing Rhys, J.T., Spencer. Nobody said it was going to be easy. We just have to continue to show up every day and try to win a baseball game.”