Phillies-Rangers: Five things we learned from the series
By John Town
Zach Eflin is Human
Zach Eflin had five great starts to open this season. The righty allowed 10 earned runs in 32 innings for a 2.81 ERA. He had four straight quality starts between April 23 and May 10. Eflin walked just one batter in that stretch and had just four walks since the season started.
That narrative changed Wednesday night as the Rangers shellacked Eflin for 11 hits and seven runs in just four innings. Eflin continued to use a fastball-heavy approach, throwing it 60.3% of the time in Wednesday’s start, but the Rangers were all over it.
The fact that the Rangers ran over Eflin shouldn’t have been that surprising. Even though he had a 2.81 ERA heading into Wednesday night, Eflin’s FIP (fielding-independent pitching) of 4.35 and xFIP of 4.73 showed that Eflin’s ERA probably should have been higher. While Eflin hasn’t walked many batters this season (he has just a 3.9% walk rate) he hasn’t been striking out batters particularly well with an 11.6% strikeout rate.
Manager Pete Mackanin said Eflin’s struggles Wednesday came from leaving too many pitches up in the zone: [quote via Matt Gelb of Philly.com]
"“It was disappointing because I was counting on him to pitch the way he has been for his last few outings,” Mackanin said. “He’s been outstanding. He just couldn’t get the ball down in the zone.”"
Eflin’s next start comes May 22 against the Rockies, who currently lead the NL West. Eflin will have to make some adjustments quickly if he wants to rebound.