The Philadelphia Phillies enter Spring Training with some questions in their pitching rotation. Behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, you have guys like Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez and Jerad Eickhoff all in the mix for rotation spots.
Eickhoff was a guy who came out and impressed after being acquired as a part of the deal that sent Cole Hamels to Texas in July 2015. During the 2016 season, Eickhoff posted a 3.65 ERA in 33 starts before regressing in 2017 as he dealt with a few injuries, most notably numbness in his fingers. In 2018, he missed time with a strained back muscle and the return of numbness in his hand. Eickhoff visited numerous specialists last season, with throacic outlet syndrome ultimately being ruled out. The cause of the numbness was diagnosed at carpal tunnel syndrome.
After going through some options, he had a minimally invasive surgery in October to repair some nerves in the carpal tunnel area. By the time 2019 rolled around, he began feeling much better as indication from Meghan Montemurro’s article for The Athletic on Eickhoff from back in January:
Two to three weeks ahead of his typical offseason schedule, Eickhoff said he feels 100 percent healthy. After throwing a bullpen session on Monday, he’s scheduled to throw another Friday. The right-hander is currently throwing fastballs and changeups at 70-80 percent effort during his ‘pen sessions and will continue to ramp up. On flat ground, he’s incorporating breaking balls. Eickhoff said he will “for sure” be ready at the start of spring training when the Phillies report to Clearwater, Fla., in mid-February.
Fast forward to pitchers and catchers reporting to Clearwater, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler indicated that Eickhoff had experienced a setback of sorts. After getting back to what seemed like 100 percent in January, Kapler mentioned that the 28-year-old was experiencing some symptoms resulting from his surgery:
Another #Phillies injury update: Jerad Eickhoff had some recurring symptoms last month after carpal tunnel syndrome surgery at the end of last season. He's scheduled to throw a bullpen session next week. "As of now, he's not a candidate for surgery," Kapler said.
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) February 13, 2019
In 68 career games for the Phillies (66 starts), Eickhoff is 18-26 with a 3.91 ERA. If he’s able to return to his 2016 form, Philadelphia’s pitching staff would benefit a lot from his ability to keep hitters off balance and eat up innings like he did when healthy. That being said, neurological conditions are often on/off. Cases differ from person to person, but symptoms can reappear after not being symptomatic for months at a time.
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