If the Phillies have to put Clay Buchholz on the disabled list, they have Zach Eflin available to replace Buchholz in the rotation.
When the Mets rocked the Phillies for 14 runs Tuesday night, they took two victims from Philadelphia’s pitching staff. Adam Morgan was demoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Clay Buchholz left early due to an elbow strain.
This isn’t Buchholz’s first elbow strain either. He suffered one back in 2015 while he was still with the Red Sox. He went on to spend the last three months of the season on the disabled list. Buchholz told reporters that it stinks to be on the DL for a long time: [quote via Meghan Montemurro of the News Journal]
"“Nobody in a big-league clubhouse wants to be hurt,” Buchholz said. “You’re here for a reason. You’re here to play baseball. You’re here to win. Whenever you’re not able to do that, it’s frustrating especially being a guy that’s been hurt multiple times.“I’ve been on the DL for an extended period of time, multiple times,” he continued. “It’s nothing that you want to happen. For me I’ve got to find out obviously what it is and then get it taken care of.”More from Phillies NewsBryce Harper’s absence should lead to Phillies lineup tinkeringPirates’ bizarre Vince Velasquez hype video will make Phillies fans laughAcquiring Brandon Marsh gave the Phillies flexibilityFormer Phillies starter Zach Eflin shares heartwarming goodbye messageIs Rhys Hoskins the future at first base for the Phillies beyond 2023?"
It appears Buchholz may be heading back to the disabled list yet again thanks to this injury. According to Montemurro, manager Pete Mackanin said he’d be “surprised” if Buchholz is able to make his next start, which would be next Monday against the Mets.
Mackanin said Buchholz will get an MRI on Wednesday to evaluate the extent of the injury.
The team has until Monday to figure out if Buchholz will need to go on the disabled list.
If Buchholz does need to go on the DL, someone needs to replace him. Since Morgan was sent back down to Lehigh Valley after Tuesday’s game, it probably won’t be him.
Instead, the Phillies could bring Zach Eflin back to the majors to replace Buchholz in the rotation. Eflin made his first start of the season with Lehigh Valley Tuesday night after coming off the disabled list, shutting out the opposing Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders over five innings. He struck out four, walked three, and allowed five hits.
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Eflin’s start correlated with Buchholz’s Tuesday night, but the Phils have a day off Thursday while Lehigh Valley’s schedule continues. Therefore, Buchholz’s next turn in the rotation would fall when Jake Thompson is expected to make his next start.
Thompson is slated to make his second start of the season Wednesday night. He struggled heavily, giving up nine runs in just 2.1 innings. Thompson gave up eight hits and three walks in that short timeframe.
While Thompson’s start lines up with Buchholz’s, the Phils will probably be better off promoting Eflin.
Even though neither pitched particularly well in the majors last year – Eflin had a 5.54 ERA and Thompson had a 5.70 ERA – Eflin showed more flashes of success with two complete games and a string of seven starts where he posted a 4.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 0.86 WHIP, and 2.08 ERA (50 ERA-).
The team could also promote one of Lehigh Valley’s other starters, like Nick Pivetta or Mark Appel, but that seems unlikely considering neither has major-league experience and their scheduled starts don’t line up with Buchholz.