The Phillies need help in their bullpen, which is saying something because they acquired four relievers in three trades before the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline.
Specifically, they need left-hander José Álvarez. But Álvarez is unlikely to pitch again in the regular season.
“If we were to get him it would be during the playoffs,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Thursday afternoon.
Álvarez sustained a testicular contusion on Aug. 20, when Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit him with a 105.3 mph line drive in Buffalo, N.Y. The Phillies hoped that Álvarez could begin throwing again around last Friday, which would allow him enough time to rebuild his arm strength before the Sept. 27 regular-season finale. But Álvarez just got cleared to begin light activities, which might include only jogging and throwing.
It is a blow. Álvarez posted a 1.42 ERA in eight appearances before the injury.
The Phillies are hopeful they will activate left-hander Adam Morgan from the 10-day injured list in the coming days. He has not pitched since Aug. 30 because of a fatigued left shoulder. He has a 5.87 ERA in 11 outings.
Philadelphia's bullpen has a 7.24 ERA, which is the highest mark in the Majors, after giving up four late runs in Thursday's 7-6 walk-off loss to Miami at Marlins Park.
“We’ve got two and a half weeks left,” Girardi said. “We’re playing important games. We’re in our division a lot in the next two weeks. It would be a great time to get hot again. … These are the guys that have to get it done. Again, they’re more than capable of getting it done. We’ve seen them do it. But this is our bullpen.”
Jay Bruce and Scott Kingery were scheduled to take batting practice Thursday at the team’s alternate site in Allentown, Pa. Bruce is on the 10-day IL with a strained left quadriceps -- the second time this season he has been sidelined with the injury. Kingery is on the IL with lower back spasms.
Kingery can be activated as soon as he is ready to play. Bruce cannot be activated until Wednesday.
“We think we’ll get him before the season is over, for sure,” Girardi said about Bruce. “That’s our feeling. Now, could he have a setback? Yeah, but as he’s progressing now we feel we’ll get him before the season is over.
“We miss Jay and we need to get him back as soon as possible.”
Bruce is batting .225 with six home runs, 14 RBIs and an .854 OPS in 76 plate appearances. Kingery is hitting .127 with one homer, four RBIs and a .367 OPS in 76 plate appearances.
The Phillies play a seven-inning doubleheader Friday, with right-hander Aaron Nola starting Game 1. They planned to have right-hander Spencer Howard start Game 2, but the bullpen will pitch that game instead because Howard moved to Saturday, when Zack Wheeler was scheduled to pitch, because Wheeler is dealing with a finger injury. Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin will start Sunday's doubleheader, though an order hasn't been announced, and Wheeler is hopeful to start Monday's finale.