Another of the Phillies Young Starting Pitchers Hits the DL

Here we go again.

Of course this comes not even a week after the news of of Aaron Nola‘s trip to the disabled list. Freddie Mercury has a few thoroughly unwelcome thoughts on the matter.

On the plus side, it’s not an arm injury for Zach Eflin. On the other, knees are a thing you definitely need in order to pitch effectively. Just as with Nola, it’s possible a trip to the disabled list so close to the end of the season may effectively end Eflin’s season here. Across Triple-A and the majors, he’s accumulated 131.2 innings, exactly the same innings total as he had last year in Double-A.

It’s been a Jekyl and Hyde performance for Eflin in the majors with seven fantastic starts sandwiched between four horrendous ones. As a strike-thrower who doesn’t miss bats, he is going to need to come back — be it at the end of this season or next year — with a way to effectively manage the quality of contact against him. But with two successful complete games under his belt, it’s not as though Eflin lacks for positives to take away from his first taste of the major leagues.

As for what this means for the immediate future, with two scheduled off days over the next week, the Phillies could go with a four man rotation with all of its pitchers on regular or extra rest through next Friday. At that point, the obvious candidates to fill the rotation spot are Triple-A starters David Buchanan or Adam Morgan, both of whom are already on the 40-man roster. Although neither of those options are likely to instill much confidence and excitement among Phillies fans, both pitchers have been performing well of late for Lehigh Valley and are more than capable of taking the ball every fifth day for the final weeks of the Phillies season.

If you’re anxious for a prospect call-up to fill the hole, don’t hold your breath. With Jake Thompson already with the big league club, Mark Appel out for the season, and Alec Asher serving a PED suspension, the only starting pitcher prospect left in Triple-A is Ben Lively. Now 88.2 innings into his Triple-A career, Lively’s performance (3.35 ERA, 17.3 K%) hasn’t put him in a strong position for an immediate call-up. However, Lively will need to be added to the 40-man this winter if the Phillies want to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, so it’s still not out of the question that he could see Philadelphia before the end of the season.

Although no corresponding move has been made yet, expect the Phillies to add an additional reliever until they need to add a fifth starter. Candidates include old friends Dalier Hinojosa, Elvis Araujo, and Colton Murray. Odds are likely in the left-handed Araujo’s favor as the Phillies pitching staff has been without a southpaw since Brett Oberholtzer was designated for assignment.

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  1. Steve

    August 09, 2016 06:43 PM

    I cant believe we didnt trade Jeremy Hellickson. He is clogging this rotation and blocking the path of our younger SP. Id much rather have a mid level prospect right now

    • Edwin

      August 10, 2016 04:46 PM

      That may be the single dumbest rationalization for not trading Hellickson. He’s the only guy in the rotation with any experience and although he isn’t great, a lottery pick? He provides a lot more to Phillies and has proved his worth.

      • Steve

        August 10, 2016 06:48 PM

        Sarcasm my friend. I was referring to the many posters who felt it was a big mistake to not give Hellickson away for simply the best current offer. I am pro Hellickson and would 100% extend him a QO. I would hope he rejects it, but be content with overpaying him for a year if he accepts.

      • Bary Onyx

        August 12, 2016 08:24 AM

        Don’t feel bad Edwin, I didn’t pick up on it either. I was going to blast him until I read his reply.

  2. Gil

    August 09, 2016 07:23 PM

    Holding onto Hellickson looks better and better for the Phillies. Given the cost to sign starting pitchers with terrible numbers, they might want to consider offering him a two year deal in the $30 million range. Not saying they should, but a strong finish to his season could make locking him down for two years a better deal for player and team alike than accepting or rejecting a qualifying offer for 16-17 million.

    • Eddie

      August 10, 2016 05:00 AM

      No, thanks. I’ll happily take the draft pick if he rejects the QO, or trade him next summer if he accepts it.

      I’m quite happy going into next year with five young starters, and Lively, Pinto and Pivetta waiting their chance in AAA. We have a lot of talent to sort through; only one way to find out who’s gonna stick.

      • Carmine

        August 10, 2016 10:11 AM

        Maybe, but you need veteran innings-eaters in the rotation too. If you have five young starters throwing close to 200 innings, you will know what you have– medical issues.

      • Bob

        August 10, 2016 11:50 AM

        It’s too tough to pass up that sandwich pick. That pick is so valuable. We can get some great talent there. If Hellickson accepts the QO, that’s fine. We can use him. But getting that pick would be amazing.

      • Eddie

        August 10, 2016 01:06 PM

        Why do I need a veteran innings-eater? Next year Nola is 24, Velasquez 25, Eickhoff 26. They’re moving out of driver’s permit stage and entering their prime. It may turn out that they can’t handle a normal workload, but at some point you have to find out, and a 2017 where I still don’t plan on contending seems like the time. If they can’t, it’s not like there aren’t passable guys available midseason.

    • Romus

      August 10, 2016 08:25 AM

      Hellickson , as approaching 30, seems to be the only pitcher on the rotation staff to remain and to stay healthy. Cannot believe all the ailments of the young studs. Though some of have reached or soon will reach their max innings pitched in their career, so putting them on the DL may be more precautionary.

      • Edwin

        August 10, 2016 04:47 PM

        Whoops it happened again. Spoke too soon

      • Romus

        August 10, 2016 05:22 PM

        Yes …I jinxed him.
        David Buchanan….. come on down!

    • Pete

      August 10, 2016 11:02 PM

      Holding on the Hellickson looks better and better for the Phillies and worse and worse for contenders in need of pitching. If I’m a fan of a contending team in need of pitching, I’d be wondering why my team didn’t acquire Hellickson. With Boston’s run support, Hellickson might have won every game he pitched for them the rest of the season.

  3. Andreas

    August 10, 2016 05:13 AM

    Just read (ESPN site) that Oberholtzer was claimed off waivers by the Angels and that Araujo was called up.

  4. RU

    August 10, 2016 10:22 AM

    After the disabled list reports for two young pitchers, watching two others (Thompson and VV) get absolutely smoked by major league hitters it is apparent to me that thank heaven the team kept Hellickson, who may be the only “predictable” pitcher. This really only shows, yet again, that you need at least 10 starters (or more) to start a season – because you will most likely wind up using them all. Moreover, despite metrics, “too many innings” on too inexperienced arms, or small sample sizes it would also appear that Management needs to continue to search almost exclusively for quality pitching. I would submit that the team might look for more experienced pitching in the Charlie Morton and Hellickson roles as they continue to audition potential young pitchers. I can’t help but feel disappointed in the overall performance and total body of work with the group so far. Eickoff, right now, is clearly the best of the lot. Back to the drawing board ?

    • Dave

      August 10, 2016 11:02 AM

      Phils were next to last in the NL in RA/G last year (4.99), only Colorado was worse.

      This season to date, their RA/G is 4.65, in a higher run scoring environment (NL league average RA/9 is 4.42 this year, only 4.21 in 2015)… so, the Phils are better than 5 other NL teams now: COL, CIN, MIL, ARI, SDP.

      Its not time to go back to the drawing board. The young staff is still learning their way through the league, and have had some inevitable bumps in the road. But overall, they’ve made a positive difference.

      Could they have done better? Sure. It also could have been much much worse.

      • Eddie

        August 10, 2016 01:16 PM

        Nola’s FIP is 3.07, Eickhoff’s 3.86, Velasquez’ 3.77. If they can stay healthy, that’s already 3/5 of a contending rotation. Add one more guy that can be not-terrible, sign Danny Duffy or someone else really good, and you’re entering 2018 with a top-ten group.

      • Romus

        August 10, 2016 03:48 PM

        Danny Duffy?
        Is this year an anomaly?
        After 90plus mediocre games over 5 years with the Royals, this year could be a positive blip…or the start of something special.

      • Eddie

        August 11, 2016 11:18 AM

        If you leave out his 2011 rookie year when he was 22, Duffy has a career ERA of 3.15. That qualifies as “really good” IMO.

        Point is, there will be top-of-rotation guys available in that 2018 class. Our current pitchers don’t need to become aces.

  5. dejesus54

    August 10, 2016 09:07 PM

    Maybe I’m missing something but:

    Morgan, 2016 (AAA): 50.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 7.7 hits/9, 9.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 (age 26)
    Buchanan, 2016 (AAA): 131.2 IP, 3.83 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 8.5 hits/9, 4.8 K/9 (not a typo), 2.1 BB/9 (age 27)

    Neither option may instill much confidence and excitement among Phillies fans, but one will especially nauseate them.

    • Major Malfunction

      August 11, 2016 01:09 PM

      Their AAA numbers are one thing, their MLB numbers are a totally different universe. Buchanan failed to get out of the 5th inning in 9 of his 15 MLB starts last year. Morgan failed on 8 of his 14. Yikes!

      MLB averages to date:

      Morgan: 5.44 ERA, 5.12 FIP, 1.4 WHIP, .853 OPS against, -1.1 WAR last MLB season
      Buchanan: 5.01 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 1.508 WHIP, .821 OPS against, -1.3 WAR last MLB season

      Unless they make some drastic changes, which they have failed to do in 2 extended chances over the last 2 years at MLB level, I don’t even think they are anything more than spot starters and AAA depth at this point.

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