Eflin’s role in 2019
Simply put, Eflin will be pitching for his major-league life in 2019. Though he was the youngest member of the staff at 24 years old, there is going to be a lot of pressure and fluctuation at the back-end of the rotation for the Phillies this season.
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Eflin will be fighting off the young guns in the minors (Cole Irvin, Ranger Suarez, Adonis Medina, etc.), who are trying to push their way into the league. Also, once Jerad Eickhoff returns from injury, he will be fighting off the former big-leaguer for starts at the fourth and fifth spot in the rotation.
Although, if recent history is on Eflin’s side, 2019 should be a year of solid production for him. The player I liken Eflin to the most on this Phillies’ team is his rotation-mate Nick Pivetta. In Pivetta’s first full season (26 starts), he edged Eflin in strikeouts, while Eflin had the better ERA, home run rate and walk rate.
Pivetta saw improvement in his second season in almost every category but wins, and that’s what I anticipate awaits Eflin in his second full season.
Eflin does a great job at avoiding the barrel of the bat, with hitters only getting the sweet spot 30.6% of the time, according to MLB.com’s StatCast. That ranks 21st out of 139 pitchers with more than 300 batted ball events, For reference, Aaron Nola ranked fourth with 27.9%. In addition to avoiding the barrel, he walks the second least among the five starters last year, 0.1 behind Nola.