Zach Eflin has arrived. You never want to see a player go down with an injury, though it appears Velasquez’ injury is minor. It was anticipated that the Phillies would call up Eflin at some point this season, and with his strong performance in the minors so far this season, it could mean the Phillies expect him to have a permanent stay with the big league team. That will all depends on if he can put together a few quality starts while Velasquez is on the DL.
Adam Morgan hasn’t been good this year at all and currently owns a 6.33 ERA. Last season, he had a few good starts but it doesn’t seem like he has the stuff to even be a bottom of the rotation pitcher anymore. With such good starting pitching in the minor league system, his spot in the rotation is not even close to safe. When Velasquez returns in a few weeks, if Eflin can show he belongs, Morgan will be demoted instead.
They shouldn’t rush Velasquez back from the DL. Vincent Velasquez has also been completely overworked. We have to remember he is only 24 years old and this is only his second year in the MLB. He has thrown over 90 pitches in 7 of his 12 starts this season. This workload has most likely had something to do with this injury. Before his injury, Velasquez did begin to struggle. In the month of May, his ERA was 5.12. The rest could be important for him to regaining his success.
Now onto Eflin, you may remember him as one of the prospects Ruben Amaro Jr. acquired in his late rebuild. The Phillies traded their long-time shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, to the Dodgers in exchange for pitching prospects Zach Eflin and Tom Windle. The Padres drafted Eflin in the first round of the 2012 draft, but it was a short stay as he was traded to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp. At the time of his promotion in June, Eflin was ranked as the 9th best prospect in the Phillies organization by MLB.com and the 4th best pitching prospect. He is projected to be a middle of the rotation starter in the future. He only just turned 22 in April, so with some time in the bigs, there is no reason he couldn’t exceed that expectation.
After a 2015 season at Double-A where he finished with a 3.69 ERA, Eflin started the season with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Triple-A where he posted his best numbers since Single-A ball. When he was called up, he had a 5-2 record with 2.90 ERA and a WHIP of 0.878. Eflin is a pitcher who works very fast. He has three pitches he throws consistently: his fastball, changeup, and slider. His fastball is in the lower 90s; however, his best pitch is easily his changeup. He won’t strike many batters out, but he is a very good contact pitcher.
Eflin is set to make his Major League debut on Tuesday against an elite Toronto Blue Jays offense. He has everything you are looking for in a middle of the rotation starter and should be able to put together a quality outing if he can mix up his fastball and change up. Now it’s time to see how he fares against tougher competition. Will this be a short stay in Philly? Or will another piece to the Phillies rebuild present itself? Regardless, Eflin is coming. Go Phillies!