Jason Motte’s comeback from Tommy John surgery is nearly complete, as the one-time Cardinals closer is finished with his minor-league rehab assignment and scheduled to rejoin the active roster Tuesday.
Motte won’t have his old closer gig waiting for him when he returns because Trevor Rosenthal isn’t giving that back anytime soon, but if healthy he could make a huge impact in a setup role. He missed the entire 2013 season, but Motte led the league with 42 saves in 2012 and combined from 2010-2012 he threw 192 innings with a 2.43 ERA and 203 strikeouts.
Expecting him to pick up right where he left off would be wishful thinking, but Motte tossed 6.2 scoreless innings on his rehab assignment and reports of his velocity have been fairly positive.
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.
Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”
Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.
The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.