In a month that consisted of struggling aces, one Phillies pitcher stepped up to help carry the load.
The month of June has not been friendly to the Phillies. On top of being 12-13 during the month the Phillies top two pitchers have both struggled.
Cy Young candidate Aaron Nola has had his worst month ERA-wise, his highest previous to June was 2.73 in April compared to 3.23 in June.
However these barely seem like struggles compared to the month Jake Arrieta had. He has gone 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA. Opposing hitters are hitting .305 off him and he has given up more hits than strikeouts.
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One Phillies pitcher stepped up to carry the ace persona over the last 24 games.
Zach Eflin topped off what has been a phenomenal June last night. Against the best team in baseball Zach Eflin tossed seven scoreless innings, giving up only four hits while striking out six batters.
Eflin became only the third NL pitcher since 2007 to get a win over seven shutout innings against the New York Yankees.
The 24 year old won all five of his stars, posting a 1.76 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. He hasn’t been facing the runt of the litter either. His five wins have came against the Yankees, Washington Nationals, twice against the NL best Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs.
Eflin initially was not a member of the rotation. Even after the Jerad Eickhoff injury, it took a Ben Lively injury to clear room for Eflin in the rotation. He has taken complete advantage of his opportunity
Coming off a 1-5 6.16 ERA season, Eflin has been on the rebound. In only 10 starts he has statistically had the second best season from Phillies pitchers this year. He’s gone 6-2 and posted a 3.02 ERA which would be eight best in the NL if he qualified.
He has already posted a career high in strikeouts despite throwing less innings than each of his two previous seasons.
His strike percentage is also at a career high at an impressive 66.3. His velocity has also been solid throughout the year his fastball averaging 94 MPH. His K/9 in 2016 and 2017 were 4.41 and 4.90.
That number has doubled to 9.05 this season while his HR/9 has dropped to 0.64 compared to 1.71 and 2.24.
While Eflin has proved himself against the league’s best lineups, his remaining starts prior to the All-Star Game are much easier. He is likely going to face the AL-worst Baltimore Orioles, then the NL’s worst and second-worst teams the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets.
Best case scenario Eflin could end the 2018 first half 9-2 with a sub-three ERA. While an All-Star nod is unlikely it could be deserved. Eflin has one of the young stars who has made a large contribution to the 2018 season and is a big reason the Phillies remain a game back of the top wild card spot.