How Phils could have 1-2-3 punch vs. Atlanta

June 3rd, 2021

The Phillies reshuffled their rotation to line up their three best pitchers to face the Braves next week at Citizens Bank Park.

The team announced Thursday that right-hander will pitch Friday night’s series opener against the Nationals and right-hander will pitch Sunday’s series finale as previously scheduled. Right-hander , who had been scheduled to pitch Wednesday in Cincinnati, will pitch Saturday evening.

Howard’s start on Saturday pushes back right-hander ’s next start from Saturday to possibly Tuesday, when the Phillies open a three-game series against Atlanta.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi said this week that the team’s five off-days in June -- originally six, but Wednesday’s rainout means they will play the Reds in Cincinnati on June 28 -- allows them the opportunity to squeeze more starts out of Wheeler, Eflin and .

“We are discussing different things and different options,” Girardi said. “We’ll check the pulse of everyone and how everyone’s doing. Those things are all in discussions right now.”

They still might do that, but by setting up their rotation like this against the Nationals, the Phillies are giving Eflin and Nola extra rest between starts. In his career, Nola is much better with extra rest. He is 29-28 with a 4.23 ERA in 71 career starts when he pitches on four days of rest. He is a combined 33-16 with a 2.87 ERA in 80 career starts when he pitches on five or more days of rest.

If the Phillies have Eflin, Nola and Wheeler face the Braves next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, Eflin will have eight days of rest (he last pitched Sunday against the Rays) and Nola will have seven days of rest (he last pitched Tuesday against the Reds).

Wheeler would have five days of rest.

The Phillies and Girardi are cognizant that while it behooves them to pitch their Big Three as much as possible, the jump from a 60-game season to a 162-game season could increase their chance of injury. So getting them an extra day of rest here or there could keep them in the rotation throughout the entire season.

“We’ve got to weigh those things,” Girardi said.