PHILADELPHIA — A little over two hours after interim manager Rob Thomson announced that Bryce Harper would rejoin the team Friday, the Phillies put aces Zack Wheeler on the 15-day injury list due to tendinitis in his right arm.

Wheeler had been scheduled to start Friday night against the Pirates. Left-handed Bailey Falter will start instead.

How serious is Wheeler’s injury? This is a critical question. The Phillies couldn’t lose their aces for long. They are just 40 games away from potentially clinching their first postseason spot in more than a decade. They need him healthy, especially in the postseason.

“He feels, by all means, he can pick up the ball tomorrow and go out there and throw,” said Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. “But when we talk about it, we also feel that we’d rather get this thing out of the way and not let him go out there and keep him working on this for the rest of the season. So, for us, when we’re sitting in the office today, it’s more, well, you know, ‘I can do it.’ But we just think sometimes you have to take it out of that person’s hands. We’re just thinking it’s best to close this now.

“I still think there’s still a long way to go and I’d rather Zack Wheeler beat this… and be in a position where he’s close to 100 per cent as he is now.”

Dombrowski said he believes Wheeler will only miss the next two scheduled games. He said Wheeler could start September 6 against the Marlins, when he was eligible to be activated from IL. (IL assignments are retroactive to Monday.)

Wheeler is 11-7 with a 3.07 ERA in 23 starts this season. He’s 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA in the last two, allowing 10 runs on 14 hits and five runs in 11 1/3 innings.

Wheeler said he felt fine after every start.

“I can’t say that has anything to do with the last two games,” said Dombrowski. “You reach this time of year with any player or pitcher, and something is not 100 per cent. I’ve been dealing with Zack for several years. And like most men, he tackled some of the same issues last year. That’s one of the things pitchers deal with. That’s how I would describe this. He has handled this like every pitcher on our staff has probably experienced. It was one of those over the last small period of time that might have bothered him a bit.”

Wheeler’s four-stitched fastball has averaged 95.9 mph this season, down from 97.2 mph last year.

Dombrowski said no MRI exams were scheduled because the Phillies believed they could handle the situation.

“He’s just a little soft in areas,” said Dombrowski. “These people are treated to these things all the time. He’s probably been treated this whole year for all I know. All last year too. It’s not one of these things that — boom — comes out of nowhere. It’s been there, just as many men have. Maybe a little more now.

“He’s not happy. I think he prefers [have] the ball is taken. But he also understands it might be a wise thing to do.”

By Blanca

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