Zach Eflin has exceeded all expectations to start the 2021 season
Zach Eflin is locked in. There was a ton of hype around the Phillies’ number three pitcher during the offseason after a strong finish to the 2020 season. In seven starts this year, he has a 3.38 ERA with 42 strikeouts and three walks in just over 45 innings of work. He ranks second in the entire National League in innings pitched, a spot behind Zack Wheeler and two spots in front of Aaron Nola.
Eflin has gone at least six innings in all seven starts this. year for the Phillies. He’s allowed one or two runs in five of them. Over the past six seasons with the Phillies, Eflin has continued to progress both mentally and physically while adding more pitches and velocity to his resume.
As a rookie, Eflin’s sinker averaged 92.0 mph. Over the last two seasons, the average is now 93.3 mph. He’s more confident on the mound. He has a new willingness to pitch into contact and aggressively pounds the strike zone. After a ton of offseason talk about Eflin’s potential, he’s proved to be better and more consistent than ever before.
Against the Braves specifically, Eflin is 6-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 12 career starts. The Phillies have won eight of those games including five of the last six. Most recently came last weekend, when Eflin pitched 6.2 innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs, and a first inning walk, while striking out eight. The Phillies won that game 12-2.
Eflin will take the mound Thursday in D.C. against the Washington Nationals. For the Phillies, who continue to struggle on the road, this series against the Nationals is extremely important. Starting the season 5-11 on the road, the Phillies need to capitalize on a weak Nationals team, who sit at the bottom of the NL East. Turning things around on the road could be the key for the Phillies to make the postseason for the first time in over a decade.
The Phillies have the fourth-most strikeouts in the National League and have the second lowest walk rate. The top of their rotation has been extremely important with Nola, Wheeler, and Eflin leading the way. The jury is still out on Vincent Velasquez and Chase Anderson, but solidifying Eflin as the number three moving forward is extremely beneficial for a Phillies team that desperately needs consistent performances from their starting pitchers.
Eflin has and continues to demonstrate significant improvements as a member of the Phillies rotation. He’s only 27-years-old and is under the Phillies’ control for the next two seasons. Hopefully he sticks around for much longer than that.