Acquired last off-season from the Dodgers in the trade for Jimmy Rollins, righty pitcher Zach Eflin has made an impact this season for his new organization. As part of the highly touted Double-A Reading Fightins’ rotation, Eflin has posted a 4-4 record along with a 2.99 ERA in 12 starts.
Following his start against Trenton on Wednesday, a 6-5 loss, Eflin spoke about his outing, his pitch repertoire, his reaction to the trade that brought him to the Phillies and more. Read ahead for that interview.
-You went six innings, allowed four runs, one earned, took the loss. Talk about your outing against the Thunder…
I was having trouble keeping the ball down, obviously. It felt like they weren’t missing the ball and I gotta do a better job of keeping the ball down and mixing in my off-speeds for strikes. I was cutting them, I was pushing them a little bit and just, it was a day to throw as many strikes as I could and I felt like I did a somewhat of a good job of throwing strikes. I just needed to throw my pitches with more conviction.
-What pitch are you finding the most success with this year and what is the full repertoire?
This year I think I am having the most success with my two-seam. Being able to get ground balls when I need them. And I have a four-seam, change up and slider though. Definitely my fastball has been the best this year. I’ve been able to locate it pretty decently throughout the year. I just struggled a little bit with it tonight.
-After a great start to your season, in which you posted a 1.14 ERA through your first four starts, the results have cooled off a bit. Is there any level of frustration that can build for you, when the numbers take a dip?
No, I don’t get frustrated really. I understand it’s the game of baseball and anything can happen on any given night. And I think the biggest thing I want to learn here is how to cope with failure. I really, really enjoy, um, if I have a bad outing, I don’t hang my head. I look for ways to get better, look for ways to improve and I think I’ve capitalized on that this year- being able to go back out there the next outing and forget about every previous one.
-One of the team’s coaches Mickey Morandini pointed out to me recently that there are a couple position players on the team that are good clubhouse guys, who can be supportive and pick guys up. Is there anyone on the pitching staff who stands out as being a guy like that?
I think we all go a really well job of picking each other up. I think it kind of just runs through the chemistry of the team. It goes for the offense and the pitching. I think we all do a great job of picking guys up and letting them know that there’s plenty of baseball to be played and we’re all here for a reason. That’s what I think about it.
-Is there a level of competition among the guys in the starting rotation that allows you all to push one another?
I think it’s all of our dream to make it to the big leagues. We’re all here and I think it’ll be a dream come true if we all got to stay together and pitch in Philly. That’s why we’re competing against each other, we’re motivating each other, because we really want the other person to do well too. And, you know, like I said, it would be a dream for the five of us to be in Philly together. I think that can be reached, we just have to work hard and that’s what we remind each other.
-What was your reaction to being traded from the Padres to the Dodgers and then flipped to the Phils in a separate deal?
The only thing I remember is that I was shocked. I was sick as a dog and I didn’t believe it at first. Then two weeks went by and the trade officially happened. I was shocked. I had never- I was really humbled that my name got mentioned with Matt Kemp and Jimmy Rollins. I guess I would say I was just shocked and humbled. It was a crazy couple weeks, but I couldn’t be happier. I loved San Diego and I love the Phillies so far.
-You came to Philadelphia for the team’s prospect workshop and seminars over the winter. What was that experience like after joining a brand new team?
It was unbelievable. I thought it was a really cool opportunity to meet the other guys and get acquainted with people before spring training. I think they did a great job of putting it on and they taught a lot about leadership and professionalism. And I think that’s pretty mandatory as you’re going through the minor leagues and they did a great job with that and it was just an awesome time.
-Coming from a different team and having grown up in Florida, what were your impression of the Phillies before joining the organization?
My impression before were that they were an old, historic team and that’s all I really had about them. I never really watched too many Phillies games growing up except when they won the World Series. I didn’t have too many opinions. Just that they were an old school system.