The Phillies enter the 2020 season with more questions than answers in their starting rotation. With Aaron Nola and newly signed Zack Wheeler holding down the top, the Phillies are left with uncertainty when it comes to the rest of the rotation. If one thing is for sure, Zach Eflin taking a step forward would go a long way towards helping the Phil’s reach the post season for the first time since 2011.
First Round Talent
In the 2012 MLB Draft, Eflin was selected 33rd overall by the San Diego Padres. He was seen as a big right hander with the potential to induce weak contact and keep the ball on the ground with a heavy sinker. Eflin eventually was dealt to Los Angeles Dodgers before finally landing in the Phillies organization. As I am sure many fans remember, Eflin was the first piece the Phillies acquired when they decided to tear down the aging core from the franchises best run from 2007-2011. Eflin was acquired along with another prospect in exchange for Franchise hit leader Jimmy Rollins.
Peaks and Valleys
Zach’s time in Philadelphia has been met with some extreme highs to go along with some extreme lows. This began as soon as he arrived in the Major Leagues. Eflin infamously gave up 8 earned runs in 2.2 Innings to the Toronto Blue Jays in his big league debut. However, he followed that up by going 3-2 with a 2.08 ERA in his next 7 starts, which included two complete games.
Unfortunately for the Phil’s, Eflin has continually been unable to shake his inconsistent play. This became as apparent as ever during the 2019 season.
Through Mid June, Zach Eflin looked poised to make his first career Major League Baseball All Star Game appearance. Following a 6 inning 2 earned run performance in a Phillies 6-2 loss to the Nationals on June 19th, Zach Eflin had some impressive stats. 6-8 with a 2.83 ERA to go along with a .221 BAA as well as holding opposing hitters to a .676 OPS. Simply put, Zach Eflin was emerging as the pitcher he was supposed to be all along.
If you’ve been paying attention so far, you know where this is going. Eflin followed up this strong start by absolutely falling apart over his next 6 starts. He proceeded to go 1-5 with an ERA of 10.66 to go along with opponents holding an OPS of 1.145. This stretch knocked Eflin out of the Phillies rotation for a month, derailing all the good he had done during the beginning of the season.
Of course, as many of you know Eflin did eventually return to the Phillies rotation in 2019. Thankfully, he did not squander away potentially his last chance to hold a spot in the rotation. Eflin made 7 starts the rest of the way, going 3-2 with a 2.83 ERA. This strong finish to the season allowed Eflin to finish with respectable back end of the rotation numbers; 10-13 with a 4.13 ERA.
The Time is Now
Having spent the last 4 seasons figuring out who he is, the time is now for Eflin to emerge. He enters the 2020 season at 26 years old, about to enter his “prime” years. Zach is also arbitration eligible for the first time in 2021. So not only is this a big season for his Phillies career; it could change how he is perceived as he works towards eventually hitting the open market.
One thing is for sure, the Phillies need Zach Eflin to solidify their starting rotation and become that solid third or fourth starter in the rotation that many in the origination believe he can be.
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