Phillies: Jerad Eickhoff’s future murky amid rehab start

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 05: Jerad Eickhoff
CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 05: Jerad Eickhoff /

Is there room for Jerad Eickhoff in the Phillies rotation?

Jay Floyd of Phoul Ballz reported Tuesday evening Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff threw six innings against a club team of free agents in extended spring training. The 27-year-old gave up a lead-off solo home run, the only hit he allowed in the outing rehabing from a lat injury.

General manager Matt Klentak told reporters two weeks ago Eickhoff would rejoin the rotation, but manager Gabe Kapler was uncommitted to it.

Despite the early injuries to the starting rotation, Philadelphia has survived over their first 34 games. The starting rotation has allowed the sixth-fewest average runs per game in baseball at 3.88 and the fifth-most quality starts.

At this moment the only three pitchers in the rotation are locks when it comes to Eickhoff needing to fill a spot: Jake Arrieta, Aaron Nola, and Nick Pivetta. At the same time, Zach Eflin has been fantastic in his first two starts of the season with 13 strikeouts to three walks in 12.2 innings with a 0.71 ERA.

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That would leave Vince Velasquez, who has been infamously hot and cold in his starts. The organization wants to give him every opportunity to start, but through seven starts he has an ERA over five.

Would Kapler move to a six-man rotation when Eickhoff is ready to return? It’s unlikely given the success of the rotation. Perhaps Eickhoff, who’s proved he’s a major league starter, gets an extended rehab assignment with Lehigh Valley or Reading with the organization being cautious with his health.

Ben Lively will also return from the disabled list, but he’s likely to remain in Lehigh Valley when the time comes.

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Unless Eflin or Velasquez falter consistently or there’s another injured starter, the Phillies will be hard pressed to find room for Eickhoff on the 25-man roster.