Phillies starting Zach Eflin Tuesday: What to expect

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Zach Eflin #56 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on after giving up a run in the first inning against the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on April 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Zach Eflin #56 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on after giving up a run in the first inning against the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on April 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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Can the Phillies turn to Zach Eflin as injuries begin to mount?

Ben Lively hitting the disabled list with a back strain and Jerad Eickhoff recovering from a spring training shoulder injury has left the Phillies starting rotation feeling sore early in the season. Replacing Lively for the immediate future will be 24-year-old righty Zach Eflin, whose pitched parted of two seasons in Philadelphia since coming over in the Jimmy Rollins trade with Tom Windle from the Dodgers.

Manager Gabe Kapler was the Dodgers Director of Player Development for a month before Eflin was traded from the organization for the Phillies all-time hits leader.

Making 22 starts with the Phillies Eflin has a 5.85 ERA, but has flashed tremendous potential early in his career. A six-game stretch in 2016 saw him pitch with a 1.93 ERA with 21 strikeouts and two complete games. He had another impressive four-game stretch last season with an ERA of 3.00 with opponents hitting .245 against him.

Scheduled to start Tuesday against Miami, Eflin will look to improve on his record against the division rivals. In one start against Miami Eflin gave up seven runs off nine hits in five innings.
Scheduled to start Tuesday against Miami, Eflin will look to improve on his record against the division rivals. In one start against Miami Eflin gave up seven runs off nine hits in five innings. /

Injuries have been the main cause of struggle with Eflin, who had chronic tendonitis in both his knees and a stress fracture in his right foot in 2016 and a shoulder strain in 2017. How much those affected him certain starts isn’t publically known, but hopefully the surgeries alleviated the pain and could lead him to pitching successfully once again.

Time will be limited for Eflin to prove himself at the major league level with Eickhoff recovering from a shoulder injury and Mark Leiter Jr. continuing to rehab from an injury. After losing a major league job in spring training this year Eflin has appeared in four games with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, going 2-2 with a 4.05 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 20 innings. That limited success doesn’t neccessarily spell out future struggles in the majors. He’d pitched three solid games giving up three earned runs before falling apart last week, giving up six earned runs in four innings.

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Eflin’s arrivial also spells the idea that Eickhoff will return soon and that the former Dodgers prospect is only a Band-Aid on the major league rotation. Fellow IronPigs starters Enyel De Los Santos and Cole Irvin have seen much more success this season, though they haven’t made their major league debuts. General manager Matt Klentak wouldn’t call up one of those players if the major league rotation needed a long-term option to replace Lively, fearing the loss of a major league option being spent.

De Los Santos is having a fantastic season in his first year with Lehigh Valley since coming to Philadelphia in December via San Diego for shortstop Freddy Galvis. Making four starts De Los Santos has a team-best 1.40 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. Irvin, one of the lone lefties in the Phillies organization, has a 3.86 ERA in four starts with 21 punch-outs in as many innings.

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Jake Arrieta will get the first start against Miami Monday night, looking to keep his ERA below 2.00 and earn his fourth win of the season.

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