Jerad Eickhoff was primed to be one of the Phillies’ most consistent starters this season, as he was in 2016. He made 33 starts last season and was second on the team in ERA. It was very seldom that Eickhoff pitched his team out of games.
This season has been a different story, however. The third-year pitcher just made his second trip to the disabled list, this time the 60-day, ending his season due to nerve irritation in his right hand.
Eickhoff, who was much more volatile, pitched to a 4.71 ERA in 24 starts. In 128 innings, the 27-year-old allowed 142 hits and walked 53 batters. Last year, in 197.1 innings, the right-hander surrendered 187 hits and walked just 42 batters. Eickhoff also threw first pitch strikes just 56.8 percent of the time – down from 65 percent in 2015 and 61 percent in 2016. He also faces the same demons he did in 2016: the second and third time through the order, where opponents are hitting .284 and .321, respectively.
As far as next year goes, Aaron Nola is the only legitimate definite for the rotation in 2018. Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez and Jake Thompson have either been hurt or bad … or both. It remains to be seen how the aforementioned pitchers will sort out, but Eickhoff is the next best bet (after Nola) for a slot in the rotation for 2018. Among pitchers that have started at least 10 games for the Phillies, Eickhoff is still third on the team in ERA, behind Nola and Ben Lively. Speaks volumes to the struggles of the Phillies’ staff as a whole.
The right-hander doesn’t have one of those “live arms” we hear so much about in pitchers. He throws in the lows 90s with a good curveball, and a decent slider and changeup.
Hopefully this season was an anomaly with command issues, but have we seen Eickhoff’s ceiling already? He’s already 27 and, as mentioned earlier, doesn’t have imposing stuff. He’s certainly a serviceable pitcher as a fourth or fifth starter, but with some of the pitchers the Phillies have, for example, Nick Pivetta – who has a live arm with better stuff – has much more upside than Eickhoff. The third-year veteran isn’t a bad pitcher and would be fine as a back-end starter for a winning team, but you know, the Phils aren’t a winning team.
The Phils can upgrade from Eickhoff either from within or the cash they’ll be spending in the next few years. That could happen this offseason, but it may be too much to ask.