Phillies: Injury to Zack Wheeler looms large in series vs Marlins

The Phillies needed their ace to show up in the first game of the doubleheader on Friday, and that’s exactly what he did.

Aaron Nola threw a complete game shutout in the first game, giving up only three hits and striking out 10. Nola commanded the strike zone with all of his pitches and made the Marlins hitters look absolutely foolish.

Offensively, Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins stayed hot, with Cutch hitting a two-run HR for No. 6 and Hoskins hitting a three run HR for No. 10. Alec Bohm has been hot and that continued in the first game, going 2/4 with RBI double. Adam Haseley, who needs to be getting consistent ABs with the injuries in the outfield, went 3/4 while driving in two.

The Phillies rolled to an 11-0 victory over the Fish and had it not been for Zack Wheeler’s dream injury, they could have had a really good shot to sweep the series.

In a pretty strange, yet gruesome injury, Zack Wheeler had to miss his start Friday night due to a nail injury suffered while putting on his pants. An injury that Wheeler admitted has been a chronic issue since high school, the pitcher ended up ripping the entire nail off his nail-bed on his right middle finger. The big righthander apologized to his teammates earlier in a Zoom interview with reporters. With Wheeler not throwing game two, the Phillies were going with a bullpen game.

Yes, that same bullpen who is quite possibly the worst bullpen in the history of professional baseball.

The way Blake Parker has pitched this season has been one of the bright spots of an otherwise dismal bullpen effort. He continued that impressive season with two clean innings to start game two, striking out three along the way. You weren’t expecting him to go more than those two innings, so the Phillies were going to need to get on the board quickly to give them enough room to play with.

Hoskins hit a RBI groundout to give the Phils a 1-0 in the top of the 3rd inning, giving the pen some needed room.

Turns out, however, that it wasn’t enough room for the bullpen, as both Heath Hembree and the recently reinstated Ranger Suarez gave up 4 runs in the 3rd and 4th innings, as Miami stormed back to take the 4-1 lead. Hembree has been absolutely terrible since being acquired from the Red Sox, giving up seven earned runs in 6.1 innings. With the recent performances of him and Brandon Workman, you have to wonder if giving up a player like Connor Seabold was worth it. Especially when you could use the extra starter right now (I still don’t have faith in Vinny Velo).

The Phillies got a run in the top of the 5th on Cutch single, good for his fourth RBI on the day. Miami tacked on another run to make it 5-2 via a Starling Marte RBI single in the bottom of the 7th off of David Phelps, yet another disappointing trade acquisition for the Phils to try and patch up this historically bad bullpen. JT Realmuto added a run on a RBI single in the top of the 7th, but it wasn’t enough as the Phillies lost 5-3 in what was a predictable, yet incredibly painful game to lose coming off the performance of Nola in the earlier tilt. The Phillies sit 2.5 games out of first place in the NL East, as Atlanta lost to the Nationals 8-7 in 12 innings.

However, only a .5 game separates them from the last wild card spot, and the team right behind the Phils is the one we are in the middle of the good ole’ seven-game-in-five-day series. Not only did Wheeler’s injury affect the Phillies last night, but it seems that his Monday start is in doubt as well.

In what has become an incredibly important series with playoff implications, losing a Cy Young contender for not just one, but possibly two games is not the predicament you want to be in. Wheeler was initially just going to have his start Friday pushed back to Monday, however, the likelihood of that happening is seeming slimmer and slimmer by the hour.

You know what that means? That’s right. Another bullpen game.

With no idea of the timeline for the injury, we might have seen Wheeler for the last time in a little while. It’s entirely possible he has thrown his last pitch Phillies this season, with so few days left in the season.

However long Wheeler is out for, the fact remains the same. Someone in the bullpen needs to step up. Blake Parker has been there since coming for from the alternate site.

Will someone else stand up?

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