Zach Eflin’s chances to return this season were already slim but they became even narrower when he tested positive Friday for COVID-19, which forces him to be away from the Phillies for at least 10 days.
Eflin had an MRI on his right knee on Friday afternoon but manager Joe Girardi said he forgot to even ask about the results after the pitcher was one of three players to test positive later in the day.
Eflin was already facing an uphill climb to return after his knee flared up on Thursday when he was scratched from making his first start since July 16. That climb becomes even steeper — perhaps out of reach — because of his positive test.
“I would think so,” Girardi said. “Because it’s not like you’re going to be doing a lot of throwing, probably.”
The Phillies will replace Eflin in the rotation with Matt Moore, who allowed four runs on Thursday in four innings on short notice after Eflin was scratched. The Phils entered Saturday with 12.4% odds to reach the postseason, according to FanGraphs. The odds are short but they shrink even lower without Eflin.
The Phillies placed Eflin, catcher Andrew Knapp, and utility man Luke Williams on the COVID-19 injured list after they tested positive. All three players are fully vaccinated and considered “breakthrough cases.”
The positive tests sent the Phillies scrambling in the hours before Friday’s game as nearly every player was tested and the game was delayed by 30 minutes in case J.T. Realmuto — who replaced Knapp behind the plate — tested positive. It was another reminder how much of an impact the coronavirus can have on a roster as baseball enters the final month of the season.
“I worry about it every day,” said Girardi, who is fully vaccinated. “Every day we have testing, I worry about 5 o’clock the next day, ‘Am I going to get a call?’ Right? But it’s just kind of the world we live in. You kind of get used to it knowing that at any point, some player, whether he did something wrong or not, could develop it, or a coach, or even myself.”
Not concerned about Bradley
Archie Bradley was unavailable to pitch Friday because of shoulder discomfort but Girardi said he’s not concerned about the reliever.
“I think Archie is going to be fine,” Girardi said. “He’s dealt with this before. He dealt with it last year. It’s the dog days of August, right? A lot of baseball.”
It seemed strange on Friday when Girardi used Enyel De Los Santos for two innings while Bradley sat in the bullpen. But Girardi revealed that Bradley, who last pitched Tuesday, was dealing with a shoulder issue. Bradley’s shoulder issue did not cause him to be placed last season on the injured list.
Ronald Torreyes is now considered the team’s emergency catcher while Williams is on the COVID-19 list. “Harper volunteered and told me he caught in high school. I don’t really see myself doing that,” Girardi said. ... Ranger Suarez will start Sunday’s series finale against Madison Bumgarner, who held the Phillies to one run over eight innings last week in Arizona.