Baseball

The Opener: Phillies, Angels, Doubleheaders

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As the march toward the trade deadline continues, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Phillies banged up:

While the Phillies welcomed both Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper back from the injured list yesterday, it seems they may now be facing injury issues elsewhere on the roster.  Both right-hander Zack Wheeler and outfielder Johan Rojas exited yesterday’s game. As noted by MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, Wheeler exited after just five innings and 76 pitches due to what the club has described as left lower back tightness. Rojas was hit in the right forearm with a pitch during the seventh inning and didn’t come back out for the eighth.

Rojas, who has struggled to a .227/.262/.284 slash line so far, said after the game that he expected to be fine after the incident, but Wheeler’s status is more up in the air. Following the game, Wheeler indicated that while he hopes to make his next scheduled start Sunday, the back issue that took him out of yesterday’s game has been bothering him since late last month. Wheeler is scheduled for one more start before the All-Star break, but if the Phils want to be cautious they could push that outing back until after the Midsummer Classic. The Phillies’ ace has once again been among the very best pitchers in baseball this year, with a 2.74 ERA and 3.28 FIP in 111 2/3 innings of work.

2. Angels roster move incoming:

The Angels’ bullpen has been heavily taxed in their series against the Rangers after right-hander Davis Daniel threw just 3 2/3 innings Monday, followed by righty Roansy Contreras making it through just two innings yesterday. With the club’s relief corps left to cover 12 1/3 innings over the past two games, manager Ron Washington told reporters (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register) that the club will probably need to make a roster move to freshen up the bullpen. Guillermo Zuniga is the only reliever the Angels have at Triple-A currently on the 40-man roster, making him a strong contender to get promoted. Other options could include turning to a starter such as Zach Plesac as a long reliever or making a 40-man roster move to promote a veteran like Amir Garrett or Bryan Shaw.

3. Doubleheaders in the Midwest:

Rain washed away two games yesterday, postponing a matchup between the White Sox and Twins in Chicago as well as a game between the Cardinals and Royals in St. Louis. Those games will both be made up today as doubleheaders. In the case of the Twins and White Sox, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin and Do-Hyoung Park note that the two games will be played as part of a straight doubleheader beginning at 1:10pm local time, with fans holding tickets for today’s regularly scheduled game welcome to attend both contests. Looking at the day’s matchups, the White Sox will send Erick Fedde (3.13 ERA) to the mound opposite Bailey Ober (4.12 ERA) in the first game, while Game 2 will feature rookie Drew Thorpe (3.71 ERA) and struggling All-Star Pablo Lopez (5.18 ERA).

Meanwhile, John Denton of MLB.com relays that today’s doubleheader between St. Louis and Kansas City will be split, with the first game set to begin at 12:45pm local time and the second set to begin at 6:45pm. Denton adds that tickets for yesterday’s game will be valid for Game 1 of today’s doubleheader. Right-handers Andre Pallante (4.00 ERA) and Sonny Gray (3.30 ERA) are listed as the probable starters for the Cardinals, but Katie Woo of The Athletic noted this morning that rookie Gordon Graceffo was expected to take the ball in Game 2 instead of Gray as the doubleheader’s 27th man (thus giving all their veteran arms an extra day of rest). The Royals will counter with righties Alec Marsh (4.57 ERA) and Michael Wacha (3.74 ERA).

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