Here’s one that’s sure to get Phillies fans feeling some kind of way.
In an article appearing today on MLB.com, Jon Morosi speculates about how the highly coveted Manny Machado will figure into what has become a compelling NL East race. With the Nationals in the midst of a horrendous 3-10 stretch that has seen the preseason division favorite fall a game under .500, the upstart Braves and Phillies are seemingly in position to add at the deadline. As Morosi writes, Machado is a fit for both teams, and each has the pitching that Baltimore covets to get a deal done. While this isn’t anything that we don’t already know, what Morosi had to say about one potential trade option for the Phillies is quite interesting:
Prior to this season, Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin had a career 5.85 ERA in 22 Major League starts. He was sent to Triple-A at the end of this Spring Training and spent all of April in the Minors. If the Orioles had called in April with a one-for-one trade proposal — Machado for Eflin — it’s reasonable to believe the Phils would have accepted.
Now? The circumstances have changed. Eflin has a 2.97 ERA in 11 Major League starts this year. If Baltimore made the same proposal today — a half-season of Machado for 4 1/2 of Eflin — Philadelphia likely would say no, one source told MLB.com.
Just to recap, the Phillies would not be willing to include Zach Eflin in a deal for Manny Machado. While, frankly, that probably seems insane, and, certainly, most Phillies fans would go crazy if they learned their unwillingness to part with Eflin was what ultimately prevented Machado and his .937 OPS and 21 homers from landing in Philadelphia, it’s not quite as ridiculous as one would think.
I wrote about Eflin last week, before he turned in another two masterful performances against the Yankees and Orioles. Consider the following about Eflin, who has been the best pitcher in a very good Phillies rotation over the past month. Here are his numbers since June 1st (NL rank among qualified pitchers in parentheses):
- HR allowed: 1 (T-1)
- ERA: 1.91 (2)
- FIP: 2.21 (2)
- WHIP: 0.93 (2)
- BB%: 4.1 (2)
- Opponent wOBA: .245 (3)
- Opponent slugging percentage: .301 (4)
- Opponents’ batting average: .210 (6)
- K-BB%: 19.2% (6)
Basically, Eflin, who is under team control through 2022, has given the Phillies elite level production over his last six turns through the rotation. While you can write off his performance while saying it’s a small sample size, or luck, I would be quick to point out his improved health and subsequent uptick in velocity could very well mean that he is closer to what he has recently shown than the middling starter he was the two previous years. So while most fans will probably scoff at Morosi’s suggestion that the team won’t part with Eflin for Machado, if the goal is to make the postseason, I’m not sure that trading an ascending, healthy, controllable young pitcher who has arguably been one the league’s best starters for what is a two-month rental is such a wise idea.