MILWAUKEE — The Phillies have one less injured starting pitcher to worry about as they expect Ranger Suárez to start Thursday despite leaving his last start with discomfort in his triceps.
“I’m going to tell you one more time. It’s just us being cautious,” manager Joe Girardi said before Tuesday night’s game against the Brewers.
Suárez has been a boost since moving last month from the bullpen to the rotation as he has a 1.71 ERA in seven starts. But it seemed concerning when he left Saturday’s start after 71 pitches in five innings.
Suárez’ rotation spot will fall one game before the Phillies use a “bullpen game” in place of a traditional fifth starter. Girardi said he’s not concerned about the effect it could have if Suárez is limited on Thursday before the Phillies need a stocked bullpen on Friday.
“As I said, it was more precautionary,” Girardi said. “And I’m not saying he can’t go seven innings and 100 pitches.”
Odds against Eflin
Dave Dombrowski was not ready to count out Zach Eflin for the rest of the season, but the Phillies are not optimistic that the right-hander can return this season.
He remains on the COVID-19 injured list after testing positive for the coronavirus and having mild symptoms. Eflin, who is vaccinated, was about to be placed on the injured list with a knee injury before he tested positive on Aug. 27.
“Put it this way, I’m not going to make any definitive statements, but it’s going to be very difficult for him to come back and pitch,” Dombrowski said. “First of all, he’s been one of those cases where he hasn’t done anything. Sometimes, they do those cases and they’re still active and doing things. He hasn’t been like that. He already had the knee issue and we have to examine that, but they haven’t been able to examine that because he has to stay in. So he’s done nothing for a couple weeks.”
Knapp, Williams cleared
Andrew Knapp and Luke Williams were to start rehab assignments on Tuesday night with double-A Reading after being cleared to return from the COVID-19 list, but Reading’s game was postponed as their opponent is dealing with COVID issues.
So Knapp and Williams joined triple-A Lehigh Valley along with outfielder Matt Joyce and pitcher Vince Velasquez. Joyce is on the injured list with back spasms and Velasquez is building arm strength after being sidelined by a blister on his middle finger.
“We can’t use them all. There’s some tough decisions to be made,” Dombrowski said. “It’s not like the past. We only have a 28-man roster. Some of these guys have done well for us,” a reference to call-ups like Matt Vierling.
J.T. Realmuto played first base Tuesday night after catching three straight games. Although Realmuto is dealing with a sore shoulder, teams have not tried to steal on him as just two runners have attempted steals since Aug. 1. “Watch him throw between innings,” Girardi said. “There’s no lack of arm strength. There isn’t.” ... Kyle Gibson will start Wednesday night’s series finale against right-hander Freddy Peralta.