The past four seasons, Zach Eflin has found himself in the starting rotation (excluding a short spell in the ‘pen during the 2019 season). Lots of fans wonder, how does a mediocre pitcher make his way into the rotation, season-long, year after year? The answer is: he is mediocre on paper, sometimes mediocre on the mound, but the short spurts of breakout pitcher the Phillies have seen in Eflin over the past few seasons has been enough to keep him on the staff.
Lots of people may be asking right now, aren’t Velasquez and Pivetta both mediocre pitchers and in the rotation? The answer is yes, but neither have been able to stay in the rotation for as long as Eflin has. Like I said, Eflin went to the bullpen for only about half of a month last season. Otherwise, his four-year and counting career has been played as a starter. On the other hand, Velasquez had a three and half month stint in the bullpen last year and a few outings out of the ‘pen in ’18 as well. Pivetta was sent down to the minors for a short time back in his rookie year and was in the bullpen for half of the 2019 season.
Let’s look into Eflin’s stats over the past four seasons. In 2016, Eflin went three and five with a 5.54 ERA. In 2017, he didn’t do any better going one and five with an ERA of 6.16. The last two seasons have been, no doubt, his best going 11-8, with an ERA of 4.36. Last year he posted a 4.13 ERA and had a record of 10-13. So it’s obvious Eflin has been mediocre at best during his time as a Phillie, but let’s look deeper into a select few of his starts of the past three years.
During the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons Eflin has thrown a total of four complete games. That may not seem like a huge feat for someone that has been in the Phillies, rotation for about four years. But can you guess how many the rest of the Phillies staff has thrown over that time? Zero. Zach Eflin leads the team in the most complete games over the past three seasons.
I believe Zach Eflin is a good end of the rotation starter. Sure, he may get blown up sometimes, but more often than not he’ll give you at least five to six innings of three run ball, and isn’t that good enough for a four or five starter? The point is, he’ll usually give you a good enough shot to win the game, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, he’ll give you a full game. Zach Eflin has had a confusing career and he has a lot of haters, but I still believe he has what it takes to be a low-end starting pitcher in the big leagues.