Phillies’ Zach Eflin closing out postseason clincher was perfect

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin (Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin (Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports) /

Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin records first career save in postseason-clincher.

Philadelphia Phillies fans will always remember starter-turned-closer Brett Myers shutting the door in 2007 to help the Phillies finally return to the postseason.

It is fitting that another starting pitcher who is currently being used in a bullpen role — Zach Eflin — did exactly the same thing Monday evening against the Houston Astros. Eflin shut the door to secure his first career save and his team a spot in the 2022 Major League Baseball postseason. The right-hander did not allow a baserunner to reach and needed just 14 pitches, 11 of which were strikes.

It is poetic and fitting that Eflin — who missed most of the second half of the season with lingering right knee soreness — recorded the final out. After all, the Phillies acquired him from the Los Angeles Dodgers in December 2014 as part of the trade that sent franchise hits leader Jimmy Rollins to the National League West club.

Eflin is the Phillies’ last true link to one of the franchise’s best players who contributed to the best postseason stretch in its long history. Fans knew that once Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and others played their last games in red pinstripes, it might be a while before the team could get back to Red October.

There was always a hope that Eflin would be one of the contributors to making that happen. It took seven seasons since his 2016 debut, but it happened.

Since returning from the injured list in mid-September, the 28-year-old has allowed just one earned run, four hits, and zero walks spanning seven appearances and 7 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. If Eflin can carry this success into meaningful postseason games, he will be an extremely important asset for interim manager Rob Thomson to call upon.

The Phillies still have two more regular season games to go before they play in their first postseason game since the heartbreaking finish against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 NLDS at Citizens Bank Park. Eflin will be among the players seeking to help the Phillies win two games in the Wild Card Series to bring back a postseason home game to South Philadelphia.

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