Phillies Pheatured Player: Jerad Eickhoff

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Jul 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff (48) throws to first for an out against the New York Mets during the second inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff (48) throws to first for an out against the New York Mets during the second inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Philadelphia Phillies take on the Atlanta Braves this weekend, and TBOH turns the spotlight on one of the Phils young righties taking the mound.

The Phillies have a plethora of storylines among the starting rotation: Jeremy Hellickson‘s trade potential, Vincent Velasquez‘ upside as a top-tier starter, and Aaron Nola‘s heating and cooling as the months go on.

And then there’s second-year righty Jerad Eickhoff, who has quietly emerged as a true workhorse in the middle of the rotation.

According to Baseball Reference’s WAR, only Odubel Herrera has been a more valuable player for the Phillies this season than Eickhoff.

Eickhoff hasn’t missed a start this year, making 21 of them for the Phillies so far. He has thrown 127 innings in those, more than any other Phillies pitcher, and is averaging 6 innings per start. In his 21 starts, Eickhoff has made 13 as Quality Start outings.

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Despite that, Eickhoff leads the National League in losses with 12. Eickhoff’s start Wednesday against the Marlins really tells the story of his whole season, where he allowed just one run over seven innings while striking out eight.

Still, he took the loss as the Phillies didn’t manage a single run in the game. Per CSN Philly’s insider Jim Salisbury, manager Pete Mackanin said that Eickhoff’s impressive performance was the only thing he was happy about in the loss.

Eickhoff has received three runs or fewer runs in support of him in 13 of his starts. Run support has been a struggle for the Phillies for the past several years, notably for Cole Hamels in the last year and a half he was with the Phillies before his trade at the deadline last year.

Compared to his successful debut in red pinstripes to end last season, Eickhoff has actually improved in some areas. He’s induced more ground balls, going from 38% to 44%. Eickhoff has also allowed less hard contact, falling from 36% to 32%.

Despite July not being his best month, Eickhoffs fastball has seen areas of improvement which point to positive signs in the future.

For starters, Eickhoff has been able to blow his fastball by hitters far more. According to Brooks Baseball, batters whiffed on Eickhoff’s fastball just 5% of the time in May, but he has raised that number to nearly 19% in July.

Particularly in Eickhoff’s last start, his fastball has had both more vertical and horizontal movement. It rose 10.6 inches and ran 4.3 inches to Eickhoff’s arm side, both of which were among his best marks of the year.

Despite not posing flashy numbers, Eickhoff has been a solid contributor in the Phillies rotation. Every team needs a guy who can eat innings, and that has been Eickhoff ever since his arrival.

By no means the headliner in that Hamels trade last year, Eickhoff has carved out his own niche in the rotation, making him an important piece as the rebuilding program continues for the Phillies. He takes the mound again on Sunday in this current series finale at Turner Field.

Next: Opposition Roadblock: Adonis Garcia

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