A key piece of the Phillies' bullpen is nearly ready to return. Tommy Hunter, out all season with a flexor strain, could be activated as early as this weekend while the Phillies are in Miami.
Hunter pitched two scoreless innings for Reading on a rehab assignment Tuesday night. He struck out two and got a double play ball, needing just 18 pitches to get through the two innings.
Because Hunter has been out the entire first half, the Phillies would ideally like to get him in back-to-back games during his rehab stint but won't delay his activation too long if they cannot.
Hunter will be a welcomed addition to the Phillies' injury-ravaged bullpen and should be in a primary setup role before too long. He bounced back from an inconsistent first half in 2018 to post a 2.91 ERA over his final 30 appearances.
One big way Hunter should help the Phillies is against left-handed hitters. He is a right-handed reliever but relies heavily on his cutter, a pitch he uses to jam lefties or backdoor them for a strike.
The Phillies can't turn to Adam Morgan or Jose Alvarez to match up with every lefty they face, so they need right-handed relievers who can retire lefties. So far this season, their righties have not done it effectively. Lefties have hit .325 against the right-handed group of Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio, Edgar Garcia, Edubray Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez.
There is still a chance for Hunter to earn some of this year's $9 million salary. If he can stay healthy, his arm will be a fresh one in the second half.
Other injury updates
• David Robertson (flexor strain) is still several weeks away. The Phillies have gotten frustratingly little out of Robertson, Hunter and Neshek this season, a trio combining to earn $25 million.
• Adam Haseley (groin) will play nine innings tonight for Reading.
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