Zach Eflin pitched well rehab start, inspiring hope for Phillies rotation

Phillies starter Zach Eflin
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 23: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin (56) pitches during the Philadelphia Phillies versus the Washington Nationals on September 23, 2020 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin made the next big step in the recovery process following his battle with knee tendinitis.

While the Phillies were preparing for their West Coast matchup against the San Diego Padres, Eflin was with the AA Reading Fightin’ Phils making a rehab start agains the Bowie Baysox.

Given that his last start was on July 16, Eflin will need to work his way back up to full strength before rejoining the Phillies. Scheduled to throw 30 pitches, Eflin threw 2.1 innings for Reading on Saturday, ending the day with a pitch count of 31.

So how did Eflin do?

Pretty darn good!

The only blemish on his ledger came with two outs in the top of the second as he let up a double into right field off Johnny Rizer. He also allowed one additional baserunner on an error from former big leaguer Brock Stassi. That baserunner was then erased on a double play to Bryson Stott.

When WIll He Return to Philadelphia?

Eflin will likely require at least one more additional rehab start before rejoining the Phillies’ rotation. Assuming the standard five-day pitching cycle, that would place his return to the Phillies to August 31 at the earliest.

Regardless if his return comes in late August or early September, Eflin will be a welcome addition to the starting rotation in the midst of the playoff hunt. With a 3.68 FIP on the year, Eflin has been a workhorse in the rotation, pitching at least six innings of work in 15 of his 18 starts.

In 105.2 IP, Eflin has only walked 16 batters while striking out 99. That type of control and durability will be exactly what the Phillies need to extend the rotation as they continue to battle for a playoff spot.

A starting rotation of Wheeler, Nola, Eflin, and Gibson should be a good rotation to bring into the postseason with Ranger Suarez returning to the bullpen. While the Phillies’ top-four would not be the best in the postseason (by far) it would still be able to compete with the best.

That is, as long as the team is still in playoff contention when he returns.

Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire