Phillies: Will Pivetta, Eflin, Velasquez ever turn the corner?
The Phillies trusted their young pitchers to step up, but few did in 2019.
The Phillies came into the season with some questions on the pitching staff. They knew Aaron Nola was an ace (although he’s been decidedly less ace-like this year), they knew what Jake Arrieta was capable of, but they also knew he was on the decline.
Philadelphia also expected big things out of the combination of Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin in the back of the rotation. They didn’t get it.
All three of those back-end starters underwhelmed this year, but I’m still convinced that Eflin can still pitch pretty well. Yes, he doesn’t have impressive numbers for this year or his career, but he’s had some dominant stretches.
From the beginning of the season through the end of May, Eflin made 11 total starts, six of which were quality starts, two of which were complete games, and one of those was a complete game shutout!! His ERA hit its lowest point on June 12 at 2.88; from there it ballooned up to 4.59 before dropping to its final 4.13.
So what happened to him? In July he complained of having a “heavy” body. My guess, is that it comes back to conditioning. If you recall, he had similar issues last year. His ERA was sitting below 3 heading into July, but after the all-star break climbed steadily towards his season total 4.36 mark. Now, he’s listed at 6’6″, 215lbs so he’s not Bartolo Colon out there, but maybe he’s just not that well-conditioned.
Another possibility is that all of that early season success was wearing on his arm late. Like I said, he pitched two complete games this year, Nick Pivetta is the only other Phillie to pitch one. Perhaps all those long starts early on tired him out late.
I remember watching the game against the Braves on July 27 where they wore those God-awful solid maroon unis that look like the ’70s threw up in technicolor, and I remember him leaving that start looking like he was completely drenched through.
Now, that may just be an effect of those aforementioned affronts to basic dignity the Phillies wore that day, but it looked like he was physically laboring to get through that game.
Eflin himself admitted to Todd Zolecki he needs to “be more conditioned going into Spring Training” next year. Maybe that’s all he needs to come back next year and pitch at a high level for a full season.
Of the three I mentioned before, Eflin clearly has the brightest future. Pivetta hasn’t been the breakout pitcher some thought he would be and Velasquez can rack up the strikeouts, but can never get through the order three times.
Eflin has had dominant spans, he just needs to learn how to sustain him. The Phillies will have to rely on him to do so. They need him to pitch well next year because there’s no way they acquire three or four top-tier arms this offseason.
Well, that about does it for the season, and unfortunately this may be it for my time at ThatBall’sOuttaHere. I have a real job now, and as it turns out this whole “adulting” thing can be rather time consuming, so I’m not sure I have the time to write anymore. I wanna thank all the writers at TBOH and George and John specifically for all the work they do to keep this site running smoothly. Lastly, I wanna thank you readers out there. It’s been great to see how you guys appreciate my work, and I’ve had fun reading all your takes on my pieces.
Do me a favor. Go follow all these the TBOH writers on Twitter. They’re all really smart people, and they do really great work. As for me, my Twitter handle is: @seth_humeniuk
Feel free to give me a follow. Although the writing journey may be ending, the endless #freezingcoldtakes and photoshopped pictures of Gritty are just getting started.
Finally, Let us all hold fast to the memory of Chase Utley’s epic parade speech and dream of the day when Bryce Harper parades down Broad Street, mounted high atop his Phanatic steed and holding aloft the Commissioner’s Trophy for all to see. God bless you all!