Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler exits game vs. Dodgers early with lower back tightness

NBC Universal, Inc.

Phillies starter Zack Wheeler, who was working on a two-hit shutout with two outs and nobody on in the fifth inning against the Dodgers Tuesday night, did not come out to start the sixth. The team announced that he left the game with left lower back tightness.


By the time the game ended, though, everybody in the Phillies clubhouse was breathing easier, and not just because they’d put a 10-1 whupping on the team with the second-best record in the National League. They’ve been fortunate this year that injuries to first baseman Bryce Harper, designated hitter Kyler Schwarber, outfielder Brandon Marsh; third baseman Alec Bohm and Suarez all turned out to be less serious than originally feared.

And they’re cautiously optimistic that they may have dodged another bullet.

“We had that long bottom of the fourth,” manager Rob Thomson said. “We scored the six runs and they made a pitching change. He sat for a long time and his back just tightened up a little bit. So we got him through the fifth and we got him out. Precautionary. I’m assuming he will (make his next start on Sunday).”

Wheeler was only slightly more careful in his self-diagnosis, noting that this has been a lingering issue in his last few starts.

Asked if he expects to start the last game before the All-Star break, he hedged slightly. “That’s our goal,” he said. “I’ll try to make my next start. It’s bothered me a little bit here and there lately. Things happen. I’ve just had to deal with it and treat it a little bit. We’ve just got to take it day by day and see how it goes. Just play it safe and go from there.”

The 34-year-old righthander became the third Phillies starter, joining Ranger Suarez and Aaron Nola, with 10 wins. It’s the first time in Phillies history the club has had three starters with double digit wins before the break. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Sox and Astros did it in 2018. The last National League team was the Dodgers in 2014.

Wheeler’s earned run average is 2.70. Obviously, losing him for any period of time would be a big loss, especially for a team that already has veteran starters Taijuan Walker and Spencer Turnbull on the disabled list, had Michael Mercado make his first big league start last week in Chicago and will have Tyler Phillips do the same Saturday against Oakland.

He was working on a two-hit shutout Tuesday night before Dodgers third baseman Cavan Biggio launched a solo home run to right-center. That was followed by walks to DH Shohei Ohtani and catcher Will Smith – his only two base on balls of the game – before he got first baseman Freddie Freeman to ground out, ending the inning.

He was selected to the All-Star team for the second time in his career this season, but was prevented from appearing in the game because he’s scheduled to start Sunday.

“It’s disappointing but it’s just how it fell. You can’t really do anything about it,” he said. “At the end of your career, it looks good (to make All-Star teams). But my goal is to do well every time out. If I do that, hopefully we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the year and that’s winning the World Series.”

Subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts:
Apple Podcasts | Youtube Music | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | RSSWatch on YouTube

Contact Us