Zach Eflin delivered a dominant seven innings of shutout baseball in an important 3-0 Phillies win over the Yankees last night at Citizens Bank Park.
His numbers for the month were stupid good and a big reason why the Phillies sit only 2.5 games back of first place in the NL East this morning after an unforgiving June schedule.
For the month (with National League ranks among starters with at least 20 IP in parentheses):
- 0.00 HR/9 (1st)
- 2.06 FIP (2nd)
- 1.76 ERA (4th)
- .282 OPP SLG% (4th)
- .246 wOBA (5th)
- 0.98 WHIP (9th)
In light of these numbers and his perfect 5-0 record, the four stabilizing performances that helped the Phillies shake off poor stretches of play, and the fact that his wins came against elite teams such as the Cubs, Yankees, Nationals, and Brewers, I think you should also know that I would be more than agreeable to Zach Eflin exhaling directly into my face this morning. I would take his breath and allow it to permeate my being and infuse me with life.
Anyway, how did he do the magic that he did against New York? He relied heavily upon his four-seam fastball, going to it on 48 of his 92 pitches (52%). That is in line with what appears to be a pronounced shift in how Eflin is attacking hitters this season. After throwing the four-seamer only 24.6% of the time in 2017, he’s nearly doubled that number to 48.1% this season, and his results using it have been outstanding:
On the night, he generated 14 swings and misses on his 92 pitches (14.1% swinging strike percentage), notable because his 2018 SwStrk% is now in line with league average after being considerably below it over the first two seasons of his career. His slider was particularly effective last night, as he generated whiffs on six of the Yankees’ 13 swings against it. For the season, opponents are hitting only .186 against his slider after hitting .360 against it in 2017.
He is also both efficient and aggressive, throwing no more than 18 pitches and no less than 66% of them for strikes in any of his seven innings of work.
Aaron Nola is the unquestioned staff ace, Nick Pivetta has the wipeout curve and high ceiling potential, Jake Arrieta is the former Cy Young Winner and World Series champ, and Vince Velasquez is…I still don’t know. As for Zach Eflin, he’s making a name for himself, and he’s a big reason why the Phillies appear ready to hang around in a wide-open NL playoff race this summer.