Another of the Phillies Young Starting Pitchers Hits the DL
Here we go again.
#Phillies have placed RHP Zach Eflin on the 15-day DL with patellar tendinopathy in both knees.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 9, 2016
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.