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Phillies place Ranger Suarez on injured reserve with back spasm

The Phillies have lost another member of their starting rotation. Ranger Suarez was placed on the 15-day injured list on Sunday night with a lower back spasm.

The move is retroactive to June 30, making Suarez eligible to return on July 15 to Miami, the Phillies’ final series before the All-Star break.

There was no indication that Suarez had been injured and he went deeper in each of his last two starts, pitching 6⅔ innings against the Braves on Wednesday and 7⅓ innings six days prior in San Diego.

In 15 starts, Suarez is 6-5 with a 4.33 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.

The Phillies are also without starting pitcher Zach Eflin, who appeared in the 15-Day IL earlier this week with a right knee bruise. Eflin’s posting to IL was backdated to June 26 so he could return July 11 to St. Louis first.

The Phils’ depth is being tested in a major way right now. Beyond losing their best player, Bryce Harper, to a broken thumb, they’ve lost 40% of their starting rotation without a lot of internal options behind them.

Bailey Falter temporarily took Eflin’s place in the rotation. He faced the Cardinals in Game 1 of the series on Friday and allowed three runs in four innings, throwing 66 pitches.

It’s unclear who the Phillies will turn to to fill Suarez’s spot. They are out on Monday and Suarez was expected to pitch next Tuesday at home against the Nationals. The day off would allow them to move Aaron Nola to Tuesday, Falter to Wednesday, Kyle Gibson to Thursday and Zack Wheeler to Friday, all on regular rest. If they go that route, the next time they need a starting pitcher will be Saturday in St. Louis, with Eflin potentially returning two days later.

Southpaw Cristopher Sanchez would be a realistic option as a starter. He is being stretched out at Triple A Lehigh Valley, where his last four appearances have been starts. He worked up to 58 pitches and last started on Tuesday. Sanchez opened the season with the Phillies and was fired twice at Triple A. A player who still has options can be optioned five times in a season.