Phillies ace Zack Wheeler, who’d been on the COVID IL since Sunday, has been cleared to rejoin the team and will start tonight’s game against the Dodgers, reports Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Enquirer. To make room for Wheeler on the active roster, the Phillies optioned left-hander Bailey Falter to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. It’s a timely return for the Phillies, who’ll avoid a crunch in rotation following a pair of rainouts and a Sunday doubleheader against the Mets last weekend. Even with Wheeler’s return, the rotation is still down a man with Zach Eflin still on the COVID list. However, the club has an off-day on Monday, meaning they can survive with four starters for a couple of turns through the rotation. After five starts this year, Wheeler’s ERA is sitting at 4.10, with a 22.5% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk rate.
Rounding up the latest virus-related transactions…
- The Red Sox announced that they have reinstated Jonathan Arauz from the COVID-related IL. To make room on the 40-man roster, left-hander Josh Taylor has been transferred from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL. Taylor has somewhat quietly become an important part of the Red Sox bullpen. Over the previous three seasons, he’s thrown 102 1/3 innings with a 3.69 ERA, 29.4% strikeout rate and 10% walk rate. He’s gradually earned himself some higher-leverage outings, notching 15 holds and a save last year. However, he began this year on the injured list due to back soreness. He began a rehab assignment last month, though that was paused after the issue lingered. The Red Sox evidently don’t think he’s close to a return, based on today’s transaction. Taylor will be eligible to return 60 days from his original placement on the IL, meaning he could be back in early June, though the club hasn’t provided any timetable for his next steps.
- The Cardinals announced that Edmundo Sosa was activated from the COVID IL today. Kramer Robertson was optioned in a corresponding move. With the recent demotion of Paul DeJong, there’s an opening for Sosa to take over as the everyday shortstop in St. Louis. Last year, he broke out with a .271/.346/.389 showing for a 104 wRC+. However, he got off to a slow start this year, hitting just .160/.250/.160 in a small ten-game sample before landing on the injured list. He’ll be jockeying with Brendan Donovan, who is off to a hot start to his MLB career. Over his first 12 games in the big leagues, Donovan is hitting .278/.381/.556, 169 wRC+. Another path the team could eventually take would be to slide Tommy Edman over to shortstop and call up second base prospect Nolan Gorman, who is hitting .287/.350/.658 in Triple-A this year for a wRC+ of 157.
- There’s one Cardinal that is still on the COVID IL, right-hander Adam Wainwright. It seems that he is back with the club and could be taking the ball for Sunday’s game, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Packy Naughton recently made a spot start to cover for Wainwright and would likely be bumped to the bullpen or optioned to the minors if Waino can indeed return this weekend. The 40-man roster currently has a vacancy, meaning a corresponding move won’t be necessary in that regard. Through six starts this year, Wainwright has a 3.18 ERA, 20% strikeout rate, 9.3% walk rate and 57.6% ground ball rate.