After spending most of the 2018 season on the disabled list, how will Jerad Eickhoff factor into the Phillies’ 2019 rotation?
2018 was supposed to be a bounce-back year for Jerad Eickhoff. He made 24 starts for the Phillies in 2017, posting a 4.71 ERA, 4.30 fielding-independent pitching, and 1.52 WHIP. He missed a few weeks midseason due to a back strain then went on the 60-day disabled list at the end of August with nerve irritation in his right hand.
Coming into this year, the hope was that a healthy Eickhoff would return to his 2015-16 form. In his first two years as a Phillie, Eickhoff had a 3.44 ERA, 216 strikeouts, 55 walks, and a 1.136 WHIP in 248.1 innings. He was the first of the young starters to establish himself in the majors.
Instead, Eickhoff was hurt early on in spring training as he suffered a lat strain. As he was rehabbing, he started feeling more tingling in his fingers as he pitched. This put him back on the disabled list with him not coming back until Sep. 3. Since then, he has only made one appearance.
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In the meantime, other pieces of the rotation started to crystallize. Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, and Nick Pivetta all took steps forward in their development and have not dealt with any injuries. These three all had strong enough seasons to warrant the inside track to a rotation spot next year. Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta have the first two spots with Pivetta, Velasquez, and Eflin holding down the last three.
So where does this leave Eickhoff? He was arguably better than all three of Pivetta, Velasquez, and Eflin when he was healthy, but he hasn’t been for over a year. He will make at most two or three appearances at all this season, which certainly is not enough to say whether or not he still has that 2015-16 form.
When looking at next season, Eickhoff will certainly be in play for a spot in the rotation, but there simply may not be a spot for him. There is a chance he winds up back in Triple-A or in the bullpen until a place opens up for him. Of course, there is plenty of time between now and the start of next season for things to shake out.