Phillies manager Joe Girardi told reporters today that Andrew McCutchen will not be ready to play to start the season. McCutchen is still recovering from the ACL tear he suffered last year. Girardi said that McCutchen hasn’t suffered a setback, but is simply not on a timetable that would allow him to play on Opening Day.
Obviously, this is a bit of a blow for the Phillies. McCutchen isn’t the MVP-level player he once ways, but he’s still a difference-maker and can be a spark plug for an offense. He was off to a .256/.378/.457 start in his 262 plate appearances before the injury struck. His continued stint on the injured list opens up everyday at-bats for Jay Bruce, whom the Phillies traded for during the 2019 season to help fill the hole caused by McCutchen’s injury. Bruce moving up the depth chart opens up a roster spot for someone like Neil Walker, Nick Martini or Kyle Garlick to make the team.
Girardi said that the Phillies expect McCutchen back at some point in April, so he hopefully won’t be on the shelf too much longer. Still, it stinks that we’re going to have wait longer for one of the more fun players in baseball to suit up again.
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.