The 2020 regular season is scheduled to begin in late July, which means it’s finally time to talk some baseball! To prepare you for the season, Phillies Nation will be taking an in-depth look at all of your favorite players. Here’s a review of Zach Eflin’s 2019 season as well as what to expect from the Phillies starter in 2020.
2019 Stat Line: 163.1 IP, 28 GS, 10-13 Record, 4.13 ERA, 4.85 FIP, 1.347 WHIP, 9.5 H/9, 1.54 HR/9, 2.64 BB/9, 7.11 K/9, 1.5 fWAR
2019 Season in Review
Heading into the 2019 season, RHP Zach Eflin was largely overlooked. As the fifth starter in the rotation, journalists and fans were questioning whether or not he would even keep his spot. Early in the season, Eflin silenced any doubts.
The first third of his 2019 season was where he looked the strongest. Eflin posted a 2.64 ERA in May and left the month with a 3.02 overall ERA thanks to two stellar performances early in the season.
In a 5-1 win over the Miami Marlins on April 28, Eflin became the first Philadelphia Phillies pitcher to throw a complete game since September of 2017 when Ben Lively did so in a loss to the Washington Nationals.
Soon after, Eflin shut out the Kansas City Royals on May 11. He allowed only four hits and no walks while striking out seven. Eflin became the first Phillies pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout since Jeremy Hellickson did so against the Marlins in September 2016.
Eflin’s performances began to falter after he returned from a 10-day stay on the injured list because of mid-back tightness. He regressed to a 4.02 ERA in June, but was still an effective major league starter before hitting a wall in July.
In a month where he went 0-4, Eflin’s worst performance came against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 15, when he allowed nine hits and seven earned runs over six innings.
His ERA skyrocketed to 11.88 for the month of July and he was moved to the bullpen. His stay in the bullpen was short; Eflin returned to the rotation in mid-August. Upon his return he posted similar numbers to the beginning of the season, reasserting his value in the rotation and for the Phillies.
2020 Season Preview
Eflin will likely be in the starting rotation for the abbreviated 2020 season, but his position is nowhere near secure. Eflin still needs to fight with Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez for the final two spots in the rotation, assuming Joe Girardi employs a five-man rotation. After the way Eflin left the 2019 season, it seems like he has secured his place as the No. 4 starter. Despite his dip in the middle of the season, Eflin posted average or above-average numbers throughout the rest of the season.
The constant pressure put on by Pivetta and Velasquez might help Eflin keep his momentum throughout the season. It seems like Eflin does his best work when he doesn’t have certainty about his place in the rotation. If he does not crack like he did in the middle of 2019, 2020 could be Eflin’s breakout year.
It is worth noting, though, that No. 1 overall prospect Spencer Howard is expected to make his major league debut at some point in 2020. If Eflin struggles, there will be a legitimate option to take his spot in the rotation this season.
Check out our previous 2020 previews
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