Phillies’ trade for Zach Eflin just keeps getting better and better

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Best is yet to come in this Phillies trade that just keeps getting better and better originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia” data-reactid=”16″>Best is yet to come in this Phillies trade that just keeps getting better and better originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="As baseball’s offseason takes shape, we will take a look at each player on the Phillies 2020 roster and where they fit in the future. We’ll go through the roster by uniform number, lowest to highest for position players, highest to lowest for pitchers, and alternate daily.” data-reactid=”17″>As baseball’s offseason takes shape, we will take a look at each player on the Phillies 2020 roster and where they fit in the future. We’ll go through the roster by uniform number, lowest to highest for position players, highest to lowest for pitchers, and alternate daily.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Today: Starting pitcher Zach Eflin” data-reactid=”22″>Today: Starting pitcher Zach Eflin

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Career rundown” data-reactid=”23″>Career rundown

Acquired in a trade by former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., Eflin has been part of the Phillies’ starting rotation for five seasons and a mainstay for three. 

The 6-6 right-hander has continued to add strength to his frame — he pitched at 230 pounds in 2020 — and that has helped his endurance, leg drive and fastball velocity. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Eflin brings to mind the old adage: Slow and steady wins the race.&nbsp;He has shown continued improvement throughout his career. Don’t be surprised if he makes an All-Star team very soon.” data-reactid=”26″>Eflin brings to mind the old adage: Slow and steady wins the race. He has shown continued improvement throughout his career. Don’t be surprised if he makes an All-Star team very soon.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="How he became a Phillie” data-reactid=”27″>How he became a Phillie

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Eflin holds the distinction of being the centerpiece acquisition in the trade that started the Phillies' still unfulfilled rebuild in December 2014. He was originally the San Diego Padres‘ property. They spun him through Los Angeles and the Dodgers, in turn, sent him to Philadelphia for Jimmy Rollins.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”28″>Eflin holds the distinction of being the centerpiece acquisition in the trade that started the Phillies’ still unfulfilled rebuild in December 2014. He was originally the San Diego Padres‘ property. They spun him through Los Angeles and the Dodgers, in turn, sent him to Philadelphia for Jimmy Rollins. 

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="2020 season” data-reactid=”29″>2020 season

It was a very good one. Eflin made 10 starts and the Phillies won eight of them. He finished with three notable career-bests — a 3.97 ERA, 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings, and a 1.27 WHIP. 

Eflin’s strong season began taking shape late in 2019 when he stopped relying on high, four-seam fastballs, a strategy that had been preached by the previous coaching staff, and returned to looking for early contact and quick outs by featuring his best pitch, a sinking, two-seam fastball down in the zone.

Back in his comfort zone, Eflin’s confidence grew and his strikeout totals actually rose significantly. He struck out 28.6 percent of the total batters he faced, a huge jump from 22.4 percent and 18.3 percent the previous two seasons, respectively.

Though he threw sinkers over 50 percent of the time, Eflin can mix it up with a slider, curveball, changeup and occasional four-seamer up in the zone. That mix will be important in avoiding predictability moving forward.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="What lies ahead” data-reactid=”34″>What lies ahead

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Eflin is entering his full prime. He will turn 27 in April. He's strong. He's confident in himself and his approach. He has all the ingredients to take another big step forward in 2021 and complement Aaron Nola and Zack&nbsp;Wheeler in an excellent three-headed attack at the top of the rotation.” data-reactid=”35″>Eflin is entering his full prime. He will turn 27 in April. He’s strong. He’s confident in himself and his approach. He has all the ingredients to take another big step forward in 2021 and complement Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler in an excellent three-headed attack at the top of the rotation.

Eflin pitched 2⅔ innings of scoreless relief on the final day of the season and that dropped his ERA under 4.00, which could earn him a few more bucks next season. He’s eligible for salary arbitration and probably in line to at least double his $2.63 million salary. Eflin would be eligible for free agency after the 2022 season. It would not be surprising if the Phils entertained the idea of a multi-year deal this winter.

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