Phillies: Zach Eflin takes pride in pitching mentality

Zach Eflin #56 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Zach Eflin #56 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Perhaps the most significant contribution Philadelphia Phillies right-handed starting pitcher Zach Eflin can make this coming season is his ability to throw deep into games.

Since 2016 — the Phillies’ first full season without Cole Hamels as part of the rotation — only six different pitchers have thrown a complete game: Eflin, Jeremy Hellickson, Vince Velasquez, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta, and Aaron Nola.

Zach Eflin’s innings-eating mentality is especially valuable for the 2021 Phillies.

Of these half-dozen pitchers’ combined 11 complete games and six shutouts, Eflin accounts for five and three of them, respectively.

Having “innings eaters” like Eflin is more crucial than ever this coming season. Pitchers adjusting from a 60-game sprint of a season to a 162-game marathon will not come easy. Some will not be able to adjust back right away to their normal workload. Assuming Eflin can adjust, given his pitching mantra, the sky is the limit for him in 2021.

Zach Eflin describes the mentality he takes into every start.

“I think it takes a lot of fearlessness in being able to believe in yourself that on your start date, you’re the only guy that wants to touch the baseball,” Eflin recently said in a Baseballtown Charities Phillies Winter Tour interview. “I kind of take that mentality into every outing. I don’t like giving up the baseball at any given time. There’s no better feeling than starting and finishing the game, so I take a lot of pride in being able to throw a lot of innings and stay in the game as long as I can.”

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The right-hander recognizes that the longer he stays in the game, the more he can help save the bullpen arms for future games. Given the Phillies overhauled their bullpen this offseason, being able to spare them from being overused surely cannot hurt, especially as they get settled into their new team.

“That’s a huge thing for me,” Eflin continued. “I’ve always been a big-strike, early-contact thrower, so to filter that into the game really helps me as a pitcher. That’s really the goal every time — go out and throw nine innings, and put up a winning line.”

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