CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillies' pitching staff has suffered a setback.
Jerad Eickhoff, projected as a member of the season-opening starting rotation, has been shut down with a strained right lat muscle, the area behind his shoulder. He will open the season on the disabled list and be sidelined into May, based on the team's 6-to-8-week timetable for treatment and recovery.
Eickhoff, 27, spent time on the disabled list with a similar injury last season. That injury was technically called an upper back strain.
Manager Gabe Kapler said Eickhoff injured himself on one of the final pitches he threw during his last start.
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Eickhoff led the Phillies' staff in ERA (3.65) while making 33 starts in 2016. He was limited to 24 starts and had a 4.71 ERA last year while making two trips to the DL.
With Eickhoff down, the Phillies suddenly have some openings in their rotation. Jake Arrieta, who signed with the Phillies on Monday, believes he can be ready for the first week of the season, but nothing is official. More will be known after he throws a simulated game Saturday.
Aaron Nola will be the opening day starter and Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez are good bets to be in the rotation. The final spot could go to Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr. or Tom Eshelman.