Feeling soreness three days after returning to the Phillies' lineup from a groin injury, Rhys Hoskins was out Friday night for the first game of their important weekend showdown with the Mets.
Hoskins, who had the game-winning two-run double in the ninth inning as part of a three-hit afternoon Thursday in D.C., had missed the Phillies' three-game series in Pittsburgh with the groin injury. He pinch-hit Monday, then started Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, going 5 for 14 in the Nationals series with a homer, two doubles and five RBI.
"You could see when he was running, he wasn't running great when he hit that double," manager Joe Girardi said Friday afternoon. "We knew that going through this, we kind of go day to day. He's just sore."
Hoskins is 1 for 10 lifetime against Friday's Mets starter Marcus Stroman, but that had nothing to do with him sitting in the series opener.
"It's not to the point where it was when he hurt it the first time," Girardi said. "Part of it is me telling him to conserve it, I told him to be smart. But he's probably going to deal with this for a while and we've got to try to keep him good enough to keep him off the IL."
Hoskins has been hot at the plate despite the injury. He has nine extra-base hits and 11 RBI in his last 10 games, but the Phillies know better than to push him and potentially create an extended absence.
Brad Miller got the start at first base and batted seventh Friday night.
Better news on McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen, sidelined with soreness in the left knee he had surgically repaired in 2019, could be ready to come off the injured list when he is first eligible next Wednesday.
"I feel pretty good about that," Girardi said, adding that he doesn't think McCutchen will need a rehab assignment.
The Phillies' offense has been hot for a few days without him but will need a healthy McCutchen down the stretch. In 400 plate appearances this season, he's hit .234/.353/.462 with 20 homers and 58 RBI. Prior to the injury, he had an outside chance at his first 30-homer season since 2012 and can still get there with six big weeks to end the season.
Eflin still not throwing off a mound
Zach Eflin is throwing off of flat ground but still has not progressed to throwing off of a mound. He has been out since July 21 with knee tendinitis.
"Still not quite from the mound," Girardi said. "I think we're getting closer and we'll just keep our fingers (crossed) that he'll be back pretty soon."
The Phillies' tone and phrasing as it's pertained to Eflin has not sounded overly optimistic. Given the fact that he will need a rehab assignment, it's looking like Eflin may not be able to return until toward the end of August even in a best-case scenario.
He is obviously a key piece of the puzzle for the Phillies, who acquired Kyle Gibson at the trade deadline to help fill out their rotation. If Eflin can't come back, Gibson essentially just replaces him in the No. 3 spot in the rotation, followed by Ranger Suarez and, for now, Chase Anderson.
Anderson left his start Wednesday with a triceps issue. His next turn in the rotation would come Monday, when the Phillies are off. They're off each of the next three Mondays, which will allow for some rotation flexibility and the ability to skip the No. 5 spot.
"There's different things we can do because we have a day off," Girardi said. "So we'll just go day by day and see where we're at."