Phillies 2021 Spring Training Preview: Pitching Staff
No. 3 starter Zach Eflin is next on the list for pitchers. Eflin put together a career year in 2020 with a 115 ERA+, a 3.39 FIP, and a 3.23 xFIP.
In 2020 there were some interesting things Eflin changed from 2019 that allowed him to be a better pitcher. For starters he didn’t throw a pitch more than 34% of the time, using his fastball the most at just 33.6% of the time. In 2020 that changed drastically with Eflin throwing the sinker more than 51% of the time.
Another fun fact is that he threw the fastball a lot less in 2020 at just under 10% of the time. So clearly there was a completely new plan for Eflin under pitching coach Bryan Price, they want him to use a lot more of the sinker to keep the ball down, making Eflin much more of a ground ball pitcher.
The good news about Eflin’s 2020 season is what was mentioned earlier, Eflin’s FIP and xFIP suggest he was getting unlucky with his pure ERA production as both were lower than his ERA. If there is one sign that Eflin might’ve found something, that is the one.
The biggest question now is to see what another new pitching coach will do for Eflin, will Caleb Cotham continue to groom him into the pitcher he was in 2020 or try to make him the pitcher he was in 2019?
Free-agent signing Chase Anderson spent last season with the Blue Jays and he did not have a very good 2020.
Anderson in 2020 had an ERA+ of 61, 6.16 FIP, and a 4.09 xFIP with the Blue Jays last season.
On the surface, this seems like a very strange signing by Dombrowski, but when you look further, it could be a good get for the Phillies.
In 2018 and 2019 Anderson averaged a 105 ERA+, and a 5.04 FIP, not amazing but a lot better than his 2020 season. Not to mention he had a fantastic outlier year in 2018 with a 160 ERA+.
The weirdest thing about his bad 2020 season is there are good signs from it, he had a career year for strikeouts per 9 at over 10, and one of his best walks per 9 seasons at just 2.67.
The thing that killed Anderson was the opponent’s insane BABIP at .362, and his homerun flyball ratio being way too high at 28.9%.
It is easy to assume that these numbers should go down for Anderson in 2021 and if the strikeout and walk numbers keep getting better, Anderson could be a steal for the Phillies in 2021.