Eflin’s Journey to Philly
The Philadelphia Phillies went on an incredible run from 2007-2011. The team won 5 straight division titles, made 2 World Series Appearances, and won it all in 2008. Following those five years of success, the Phillies began to decline. Star players such as Roy Halladay, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard all spent significant time on the Injured List. The Phillies began to fall down the standings and then General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was forced to make some tough decisions.
One of those decisions was trading cornerstone player Jimmy Rollins. The long-time Phillies shortstop and former MVP would be dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers on December 19, 2015. Rollins would head to LA and the Phils would receive right-handed starter Zach Eflin and left-hander Tom Windle.
Zach Eflin would join the likes of Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickoff, Vince Velasquez, and plenty other young arms in the Phillies farm club. The hope was for the Phillies to have a plethora of talented pitchers to develop. Outside of Nola, Eflin has had the most success of the crew listed above. Both Aaron and Zach are the only ones remaining in the organization. The experiment for the most part was not successful.
In terms of the Jimmy Rollins trade however, should be considered a win for both the Phils and Ruben Amaro Jr.
Zach Eflin would make his major league debut with the Phillies on June 14, 2016 in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The debut would not be memorable for Zach however, as he allowed 8 earned runs in 2.2 innings off work. Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays would hit a grand slam off the rookie and be joined in the homerun parade by Kevin Pillar and Edwin Encarnación.
Carving a Role
The Phillies’ young right hander would spent the rest of 2016 back and forth with the big league club. He would find himself in the same position in 2017 as we was promoted and demoted several times. It would not be until 2018 where Zach Eflin would become an everyday member of the Phillies starting rotation. Under Phillies’ former skipper Gabe Kapler, Zach Eflin would get a chance to shine. Sliding into the third starter position, Zach Eflin would follow teammates Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta in the Phillies rotation.
As a pitcher, Zach Eflin is a bit of unique pitcher. Eflin’s best pitch is his dynamic sinker. This pitch features fantastic movement and forces opponents to roll over into ground balls. Zach uses his sinker about 41.5% of the time. While he doesn’t boast above average velocity, one of Eflin’s best attributes has been his command. He ranks in the 99th percentile in terms of walk rate and lets up some of the fewest walk totals among big league starters.
Stamina and the ability to go deep into games is another quality in Zach Eflin’s arsenal. Number 56 has been known to go deep into starts when he is in a groove. Since 2019 Eflin has three complete games and two complete game shut outs.
What’s Next for Eflin?
Following a late season injury in 2021, Zach Eflin had to get surgery to repair his right patella tendon. It is almost guarenteed that he will miss the beginning of the season and we wish Zach a speedy recovery. Once he does get back on the diamond however, he will need to show up.
Since becoming a major leaguer, Zach Eflin has been up and down in the bigs. He will go on stretches of dominance at times and look like a potential All-Star. Whether its complete games or high strikeout performances, Eflin can just mow down even the best lineups in the game. At other points however, Eflin cannot get out of his own way. Long pitch counts and missing his spots is a common theme in some of his bad starts. Eflin has been known to leave pitches over the plate at points and get crushed because of it.
Consistency is the one area of improvement we must see if the Phillies are to keep Zach after 2022. He will make 5.5 million dollars this year and will become a Free Agent at the end of the season. The Phillies have Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, and Ranger Suarez under contract past this season. With prospects such as Mick Abel and Andrew Painter waiting in the wings, the club may opt to find a replacement for Eflin. If he can prove to be more consistent from start to start, as well as maintain health for the entire season, I can see a future with Zach Eflin in it. If we get more of the same from Zach in 2022, I believe it will be time for the team to cut ways with the right-hander.
Photo Credit: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire