Aaron Nola will start Friday night for the Phillies when they return from their four-day pause following Miami’s coronavirus outbreak at Citizens Bank Park.
Nola will face the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series in which the Phillies will be considered the road team in their own ballpark. The Canadian government denied the Blue Jays from playing this season in Toronto because of coronavirus risks, so the Jays moved to Buffalo, N.Y. But the minor-league ballpark will not be ready by this weekend, so the Phillies will play three against the South Philly Jays.
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Zack Wheeler will start Saturday, and Jake Arrieta will make his season debut on Sunday. Zach Eflin will start Tuesday’s series opener against the Marlins, followed by Vince Velasquez on Wednesday. That series is scheduled to be in Miami, but that could change after half of Miami’s 30-man roster tested positive in recent days for COVID-19.
Arrieta and Eflin were scheduled to start Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees, but those games were postponed. The Phillies could have had Arrieta and Eflin start the first two games against Toronto, but they instead elected to keep Nola and Wheeler on close-to-normal rest. Nola allowed four runs Friday in 51/3 innings against the Marlins while Wheeler held Miami to one run in seven innings on Saturday. Their second starts will come on six-days rest.
Spencer Howard could join the Phillies this weekend. He pitched on Sunday in Allentown, so he would be available to pitch as early as Friday. The Phillies need to keep Howard, their top pitching prospect, off the major-league roster for the first six days of the season to delay his eventual free agency until after the 2026 season instead of 2025.
Joe Girardi said after Sunday’s loss that Velasquez would remain in the starting rotation. But the Phillies could bring Howard to the majors as a reliever.