Phillies top-five most improved players during 2018 season
Zach Eflin was the main piece acquired from the Dodgers for Jimmy Rollins almost four years ago. He was a good pitching prospect with the potential to be a mid-rotation starter if everything broke right. During Eflin’s first two major-league seasons, little broke right.
Eflin showed promise in his rookie year, throwing two complete games, including one shutout. However, he struggled with consistency and finished the year with a 5.54 ERA after needing surgery to repair his knees. 2017 wasn’t any better as he posted a 6.16 ERA, striking out just 12.5% of opposing hitters.
This year, Eflin has dramatically improved. Through 22 starts, he has a 4.26 ERA, 3.88 fielding-independent pitching, and 1.27 WHIP. His strikeout rate jumped up to 21.7% as he generated far more whiffs with his sinker and changeup. Meanwhile, he has walked just 6.1% of opposing hitters, 12th-least amongst NL pitchers with 120 or more innings.
Eflin became valuable enough to the team’s rotation that some believed he should not be included in any package for Manny Machado at the trade deadline. While Eflin still has room to improve, he has already made a huge jump compared to last year and will be a key part of the rotation next year.