Forget the playoffs for a second, do the Phillies have enough starting pitching to get through the regular season?
Spencer Howard was placed on the injured list Sunday with shoulder stiffness. It forced an early exit for Howard Saturday night in the Phillies' 12-6 win in Miami.
Connor Brogdon was recalled from Lehigh Valley to fill the roster vacancy.
This is bad, bad news for the Phillies, especially with Zack Wheeler also pushed back twice because of a fingernail injury.
The obvious rotation replacement for Howard is Vince Velasquez but it is not that simple. The Phillies still have two more doubleheaders after Sunday. Their only remaining off-day is September 24.
Even with Velasquez, the Phillies will still need a few bullpen games. The first game of Sunday's doubleheader was a bullpen game with 29th man Ramon Rosso starting.
The only other pitchers on the Phillies' 40-man roster capable of pitching more than a couple of innings are Cole Irvin and Mauricio Llovera, who have each been hit hard in limited major-league duty this season. Adonis Medina is also on the 40-man roster but the Phillies have been hesitant to declare him ready for spot start duty.
This is why it would have been prudent to add another starting pitcher at the trade deadline.
Howard's spot in the rotation would have come up again Thursday at home against the Mets. His next turn would have been the following Tuesday in a doubleheader in Washington.
Howard said Saturday night that he wasn't all that concerned by the injury and it did not feel as serious as the shoulder issue that cost him two months last summer. But it's still going to cost the Phillies in these final two weeks.