Rainout puts Suarez on mound in Game 3 as red flags fly around Wheeler


So, Ranger Suarez will start Game 3 of the World Series, after all.

Monday night's rainout pushed Game 3 back to Tuesday night. Suarez will get the ball against Houston right-hander Lance McCullers in an 8:03 p.m. start at Citizens Bank Park.

Looking to avoid a situation like the one that occurred right here in Philadelphia in the 2008 World Series -- Game 5 was halted by rain in the sixth inning and resumed two days later -- Major League Baseball postponed Monday night's contest about 80 minutes before the scheduled 8:03 p.m. first pitch. 

"Just looking at the radar, it looked like it was going to pick up over the course of the night and it looks like at 9 o'clock it's going to be raining pretty hard, so it's the right decision, really," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said shortly after the call to postpone the game was made.

The entire series has been pushed back. Games 4 and 5 will be played Wednesday and Thursday nights in Philadelphia. Friday now becomes an off day. Games 6 and 7 will be played Saturday and Sunday in Houston, if necessary.

The series is tied at a game apiece.

Suarez helped the Phillies win Game 1 when he pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief. After that 11-pitch outing, the Phillies decided to push him back from his scheduled Game 3 start and have him start Game 4. Monday night's rainout allows for Suarez to make the Game 3 start instead of Noah Syndergaard.

Aaron Nola will start Game 4 on Wednesday night and Syndergaard will start Game 5 on Thursday, unless he is needed in relief in Games 3 or 4. In that case, Kyle Gibson, who has pitched 1⅓ inning in the last 30 days, will get the call.

The Phillies' adjusted pitching rotation served as confirmation that staff ace Zack Wheeler is experiencing an issue with his right arm.

Wheeler was hit hard in Game 2, a 5-2 loss to the Astros, on Saturday, and the velocity of his fastball was noticeably down. His next start had been scheduled for Friday, which initially would have been Game 6. Monday's rainout would have allowed the Phils to move Wheeler up a day and pitch on the customary four days' rest in Game 5 on Thursday. That won't happen. Wheeler will remain the Game 6 starter and with that game now scheduled for Saturday, he will pitch with two more days' rest than normal, if that game is even played.

In other words, the Phils had an opportunity to guarantee that their best starter would pitch again in the series and they passed on it.

What gives?

"He's fine," Thomson said. "It's just, it's late in the season, velocity's dropped a little bit, he's fatigued. I just feel like he needs more time."

The Phillies hope that extra time doesn't add up to five months.

Wheeler was struck on the left knee by a line drive in Game 5 of the NLCS. That is not an issue. He missed a month late in the regular season with right elbow inflammation. After his loss in Game 2, Wheeler said his elbow was fine. The pitcher was not available for comment on Monday.

After Monday's postponement, Thomson was asked directly about Wheeler's elbow.

"He's fine," Thomson said. "It's fatigue."

The Astros, who are deeper in their rotation than the Phillies, will stay on schedule with their pitching. Right-hander McCullers will oppose Suarez on Tuesday night. Right-hander Cristian Javier will oppose Nola in Game 4 Wednesday night. Justin Verlander will start against Syndergaard or Gibson in Game 5 Thursday night. Wheeler and Framber Valdez line up to pitch Game 6 Saturday in Houston, if necessary.

If the World Series goes seven games, Suarez and McCullers would be the starters.

But first things first. Suarez will make his first World Series start Tuesday night.

"Ever since I was a kid, it's been a dream of mine, so I'm just trying to go out there and do my best," he said.

Suarez pitched against the Astros a month ago, in the second-to-last game of the regular season, the day after the Phillies clinched their playoff berth. The Phillies celebrated late into the night after clinching, but there was a game to play the next day and Suarez was rocked for seven hits, including three homers, and six runs over three innings.

"I learned a lot from my last start against the Astros," Suarez said. "Against this team, I really have to locate my pitches. That's a big factor. That's going to determine a lot of my game tomorrow. I don't want to fall into deep counts."

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