Zack Wheeler needed just three pitches Tuesday night to retire the one batter he faced in the ninth inning of the All-Star Game. It was quick work, but we’ll find out later this week if he can still pitch Friday when the Phillies return from the break with a doubleheader against Miami.
Wheeler’s last start was July 7 in Chicago, so his three pitches in Colorado could be viewed as a side session. Wheeler leads the majors in innings pitched, and the Phillies will be cautious with him. It’ll be interesting to see how they line him up this weekend. If he pitches Friday, Wheeler will then be on track to pitch next week at Yankee Stadium.
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Could Cole Hamels come back to the Phillies?
It would be hard to script a better way for Cole Hamels to finish his Phillies career than the way he did in 2015 when he threw a no-hitter in his final start before being traded to Texas. But returning midseason and helping the Phils reach the playoffs for the first time in a decade might be an even better final chapter.
A source confirmed a report by baseball reporter Jon Heyman that the Phillies will be in attendance Friday when Hamels holds a pitching session near his home in Texas. The Phils are in the market this month for a starting pitcher so it’s worth checking in on Hamels, who has not pitched since he made just one start last season for Atlanta.
The showcase will likely draw plenty of teams, as the New York Post reported that both the Yankees and Mets will also be on hand. Hamels will have to prove that he’s healthy after being slowed last season by shoulder fatigue and triceps tendinitis. An oblique strain cost him a month in 2019, and he finished that season with a 5.79 ERA in 10 starts after returning from the injured list. Hamels said he returned too early from that injury.
The Phillies will begin the second half Friday with a .500 record and trail the first-place Mets by just 31/2 games. Based on winning percentage, the Phils had the third-toughest schedule in the first half but have the easiest schedule in the second half.
There’s a path to October, but they’re likely at least one starter away. Vince Velasquez’s rotation spot is far from secure, and Matt Moore has pitched well since returning from the injured list, but two good starts are only enough for cautious optimism.
So the Phils could make a move before the July 30 trade deadline to bolster their rotation. Perhaps they will like what they see Friday in Texas. The Phillies could have traded for Hamels — the 2008 World Series hero and one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history — in 2018 before Texas shipped him to the Cubs and could have signed him before last season before he signed with the Braves.
They passed both times, further ensuring that Hamels’ final pitch in a Phillies uniform was the final out of a no-hitter at Wrigley Field. But Hamels’ time in Philadelphia might soon get a new ending.
Wheeler has emerged this season as one of baseball’s premier pitchers. Scott Lauber details how the Phillies right-hander rose from a high school pitcher in Georgia to a first-time All-Star.
The MLB draft concluded Tuesday afternoon, and you can learn more here about the players the Phillies drafted Monday and about the ones they drafted Tuesday.
The Phillies used their ninth-round pick Monday to draft a California high school outfielder whom most teams have never heard of.
Scott Ruffcorn pitched 30 games in the majors but never won a game before his career ended in 1997 with the Phillies. His son, Jason, was drafted this week by the Phillies and is a relief pitcher with a 99-mph fastball. His dream will begin where his father left off.
Today: The Phillies are off.
Tomorrow: The Phillies are off again.
Friday: The Phillies return with a doubleheader vs. Miami at Citizens Bank Park, 4:05 p.m.
Saturday: The Phillies play the Marlins, 6:05 p.m.
Sunday: Phillies and Marlins finish the series, 6:05 p.m.
Monday: Phillies are off again.
Stat of the day
J.T. Realmuto on Tuesday became the first Phillies player in 40 years to homer in the All-Star Game. Just four Phillies previously homered for the National League: Mike Schmidt in 1981, Greg Luzinski in 1977, Dick Allen in 1967, and Johnny Callison in 1964.
Realmuto’s homer was the first by a Phillies player in a losing effort. Callison is the last All-Star to hit a walk-off homer, which he did after borrowing a bat from Hall of Famer Billy Williams of the Cubs.
From the mailbag
Question: I’ve had enough of these seven-inning doubleheaders. When will they stop? — Charles B. via email
Answer: Thanks, Charles. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that seven-inning doubleheaders will likely go away after this season. Also, the ghost runner on second base to start extra innings is expected to be history after the 2021 season. The rules were implemented last year to speed up games during the pandemic.