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Jose Alvarado could be back with Phillies next weekend vs. Dodgers

Alvarado could be back next weekend; will Phillies skip No. 5 spot next turn? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

WASHINGTON — Jose Alvarado could be back with the Phillies by next weekend’s home series against the Dodgers.

Alvarado began his rehab assignment Saturday night with a scoreless inning for Triple A Lehigh Valley. He allowed a hit, hit a batter, struck out one, threw 18 pitches and was 96-99 mph with his fastball.

The Phillies want to see how Alvarado responds after his first game action since May 7, so he’ll make another appearance in the minors. He worked out at Citizens Bank Park Sunday and will report to Double A Reading to pitch Tuesday or Wednesday, Phillies manager Rob Thomson said prior to the series finale in DC It will probably be Tuesday.

Alvarado has been out since May 8 with left elbow inflammation. He’s allowed one earned run in 14 appearances this season with 24 strikeouts and no walks.

Next turn through the rotation

The Phillies have the option of skipping the No. 5 spot in their rotation this week because of Thursday’s off day. Ranger Suarez started Sunday against the Nationals. Aaron Nola, Taijuan Walker and Zack Wheeler will pitch Monday through Wednesday against the Tigers, in that order.

The off day Thursday would allow Suarez, Nola and Walker to pitch on regular rest Friday through Sunday against the Dodgers. Wheeler could then start the following Monday in Arizona, also on normal rest.

If the Phillies go that route, they would not need a fifth starter/bullpen game until Tuesday, June 13 in the desert.

“We’ll see how these guys come out in the next couple of days, the starters’ workload, how deep they go,” Thomson said Sunday. “The one thing about the bullpen day, the one good thing for us is that we’ve got bullpen depth. We still have guys in Triple A that we can get up here in a heartbeat. So I don’t think there’s any kind of panic not having that fifth starter right now.”

The Phils could also just go with another bullpen game Friday and keep the rotation on turn, which would give workhorses like Nola and Wheeler an extra day between starts.

“It’s always on our mind, it really is,” Thomson said, “just to keep those guys fresh and healthy. It’s always there.”

Nola is at the top of the innings leaderboard again, ranking second in the National League to Logan Webb with 74⅔. Nola and Wheeler are in the top four in the majors in innings pitched since 2018, since 2019 and since 2020.