The Philadelphia Phillies have an increasing number of players putting up All-Star numbers in 2023. For weeks it looked like Nick Castellanos would represent the ball club solo. Bryson Stott’s case has been rejuvenated. Players like J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper are always candidates simply because of their name recognition and in the former’s case, a lack of really good options.
Fans hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite Phillies in this year’s All-Star Game are guaranteed to see at least one player there per MLB rules. They may also witness these three former Phillies playing in the Midsummer Classic taking place in Seattle.
1) Former Phillies player having an All-Star worthy season: Zach Eflin
Everybody knew this was going to happen. The always wise Tampa Bay Rays signed Zach Eflin to what looked like a ludicrously large contract for what he achieved in his career with the Phillies. He’ll take home $40 million in three seasons which is astonishing considering he was 36-45 with a 4.49 ERA in parts of 7 seasons with the Phillies.
Eflin was always the guy who was one game, one pitch, one scouting report away from becoming an ace. He never found it with the Phillies. This year with the Rays he has been a big part of their success.
Now 9-3 with a 3.35 ERA, Eflin is behind only teammate Shane McClanahan for the MLB lead in wins. He’s averaging 9.1 strikeouts per 9 and maybe even better has a walk rate of 1.6 per 9.
It’s no shock to anyone’s system for the Rays to get this kind of performance from Eflin. The Phillies opted to buy out his contract following the 2022 season and for good reason. Up until that point, he was more hype than execution.
Eflin could be one of several Rays players heading to the All-Star Game. He could be joined by another ex-Phillies player who you probably remember a little bit less.
Needless to say for those who experienced Eflin in Philadelphia, this would be his first All-Star selection.
2) Former Phillies player having an All-Star worthy season: Drew Smyly
Pitching for the Chicago Cubs in his second straight season, Drew Smyly is 7-4 with a 3.38 ERA which might not seem so impressive but realize he’s not too far off from Zach Eflin and on an inferior roster. In a lot of ways, he is a more veteran version of Eflin except he did excel early on in his career. Injuries held Smyly back. He still has only one season of reaching 30 starts which, ironically enough, came with the Rays in 2016.
The Phillies connection came in 2019 when he made a dozen starts for them. He went 3-2 with a 4.45 ERA. He was a midseason free agent signing who joined the club in their failed attempt to end the playoff drought in year one of Harper.
Smyly is on a Cubs team with early Cy Young candidate Marcus Stroman as the surer bet to make it to the All-Star Game. This could bump him from having any shot as there are definitely some other pitchers out there who could bump him for the sake of every club getting a representative. If Stroman’s exit from his London start is serious, however, this could provide Smyly with a path to be an All-Star for the first time in his career.
3) Former Phillies player having an All-Star worthy season: David Robertson
Much more recently a member of the Phillies, closer David Robertson is having what looks to be an All-Star worthy campaign for the New York Mets. The surprising fact that he is one of their better players on a team with as big of a payroll as it has caught everyone off guard.
Robertson came to the Phillies last year at the trade deadline from Smyly’s current team, the Cubs. He had a 2.70 ERA and 6 saves but was just 1-3 with a 3.71 FIP and 6.2 walks per 9 which had Phillies fans fretting often when he stepped on the mound.
The Mets have gotten much more from Robertson this year. Signed to be a setup man for Edwin Diaz, he has embraced the closer role yet again. He’s 2-1 with 11 saves in 13 opportunities. His 1.59 ERA and 41 strikeouts through 34 innings has been a blessing in the ninth for Buck Showalter. If the team was playing well, Robertson’s stellar campaign would be one of the top-billed stories. Because the Mets have struggled so awfully, it gets overlooked a little more.
Robertson has the numbers to justify an All-Star selection and struggles from practically every Mets starting pitcher plus some undesirable batting averages out of teammates such as Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor might drag them out of the All-Star Game even if they have some awesome run production numbers.
If selected it would be Robertson's time as an All-Star and first since 2011.