Zach Eflin’s Complete Games By The Numbers

Last week I provided a reasonably in depth analysis of the start of Zach Eflin‘s major league career. There’s the good — dude throws strikes — and the bad — dude never misses bats — but mostly there’s the unknown — dude’s just 22 and still learning. Overall, the analysis essentially called for tempering enthusiasm about Eflin, which felt a bit silly in retrospect when in his very next start, he went out and did this:

In keeping a good Pirates team scoreless through nine innings, Eflin became the first Phillies rookie to toss a shutout since J.A. Happ threw two shutouts in 2009. At 22 years, 107 days old, he also became the youngest Phillies pitcher to throw a shutout since Kevin Gross (22 years, 83 days) on August 30, 1983.

Not only did he throw a shutout, he continued with his strike-throwing ways and didn’t walk a single batter. His final line on the evening: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HBP.

Any concerns I outlined prior to the shutout remain. During the game, opponents connected on 83% of swings against Eflin, which is a contact-rate that is still significantly higher than ideal. However, there’s no reason to rehash that analysis. The sole purpose of this piece is to celebrate the shutout with a few fun facts and lists.

Eflin’s complete game shutout tallied a Game Score of 87. Recall that, broadly speaking, 50 is an average outing and anything above 70 is very good. An 87 Game Score? Well, that figures to be one of the best starts of the season. In fact, it was just the 12th start by a National League pitcher this year to rate so highly, here’s the full list:

Player Date Tm Opp IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc
Madison Bumgarner 2016-07-10 SFG ARI 9.0 1 0 0 1 14 0 98
Vincent Velasquez 2016-04-14 PHI SDP 9.0 3 0 0 0 16 0 97
Jaime Garcia 2016-04-14 STL MIL 9.0 1 0 0 1 13 0 97
Clayton Kershaw 2016-05-01 LAD SDP 9.0 3 0 0 0 14 0 95
Clayton Kershaw 2016-05-12 LAD NYM 9.0 3 0 0 1 13 0 93
Julio Teheran 2016-06-19 ATL NYM 9.0 1 0 0 0 7 0 92
Jacob deGrom 2016-07-17 NYM PHI 9.0 1 0 0 1 7 0 91
Johnny Cueto 2016-05-23 SFG SDP 9.0 2 0 0 0 6 0 89
Clayton Kershaw 2016-05-23 LAD CIN 9.0 2 0 0 1 7 0 89
Jake Arrieta 2016-04-21 CHC CIN 9.0 0 0 0 4 6 0 89
Zach Eflin 2016-07-22 PHI PIT 9.0 3 0 0 0 6 0 87
Max Scherzer 2016-05-11 WSN DET 9.0 6 2 2 0 20 2 87
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/24/2016.

Talk about elite company. You could argue semantics of the term ace, but that list comprises essentially four aces, — Bumgarner, Kershaw, Arrieta, and Scherzer — three top tier starters — Garcia, Teheran, deGrom — and now two of the Phillies young rotation members — Velasquez and Eflin. Not bad.

This next list might be even more impressive. Here are all of the pitchers with multiple complete games this season:

It was easy to dismiss the complete game Eflin threw in his fifth major league start given that it was against a horrible Braves team, but it happened nonetheless. With that complete game and last weekend’s shutout, Eflin is now one of just seven pitchers in baseball with multiple complete games this season.

Not only that, check out the list of complete games by rookies in baseball this season:

Player CG Age Tm
Zach Eflin 2 22 PHI
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/25/2016.

Yup, you’re reading that right. Zach Eflin is the only rookie to throw even one complete game this season.

Now, for one final list, here all of the pitchers to throw a shutout in first eight career starts since 1990:

Gcar Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO
8 Zach Eflin 2016-07-22 PHI PIT W 4-0 SHO, W 9.0 3 0 0 0 6
8 Dontrelle Willis 2003-06-16 FLA NYM W 1-0 SHO, W 9.0 1 0 0 1 8
1 Mark Brownson 1998-07-21 COL HOU W 5-0 SHO, W 9.0 4 0 0 1 7
5 Kerry Wood 1998-05-06 CHC HOU W 2-0 SHO, W 9.0 1 0 0 0 20
5 Mike Mimbs 1995-05-26 PHI SDP W 2-0 SHO, W 9.0 2 0 0 1 4
1 Pedro Astacio 1992-07-03 (2) LAD PHI W 2-0 SHO, W 9.0 3 0 0 4 10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/24/2016.

Pitchers don’t throw complete games anymore, but Eflin now has one in 25% of his career major league starts. It’s undeniably impressive and it’s completely related to his ability to throw strikes. There are concerns about his profile moving forward, but none of that can take away from this notable start to his career.

Let’s close this out with an updated look at a breakdown of his first eight major league starts:

First start: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 3 HR, 27.00 ERA, 4.50 WHIP
Next 7 starts: 47.2 IP, 36 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 5 BB, 24 K, 3 HR, 2.08 ERA, 0.86 WHIP

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2 comments

  1. 100Bucks

    July 26, 2016 08:14 AM

    Thanks Corinne for the stats and analysis. I guess its too soon to tell if he becomes a solid reliable back of rotation guy like Kevin Gross or if he can become better. Eflin throws hard and has excellent control. So, it is surprising that he doesn’t miss more bats. At age 22, with the velocity and precision that he has it seems like he has the tools to be more than just solid. I think (hope) he can be dominant 5 years from now.
    This is a fun year for Phillies fans.

    • Romus

      July 26, 2016 01:42 PM

      Eflin’s whiff ratio has always been average, not specular.
      He has said in the past…..he pitches to contact….2Smr…since he wants to stay in the games longer and keep the pitch count lower. His GB rate and BB/9 were exceptional thru the minors. And he can get it up to 95/96 on his 4Smr if he wanted to, in which he had said in an interview last year. He seems to be a consummate pitcher.

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