By Michael Donovan
Phillies rookie starter Zach Eflin bore a striking resemblance yesterday to the way he debuted in Toronto in June — like a rookie!
He entered the 11-1 loss to the Marlins at Marlins Park with a 2.08 ERA in seven starts since allowing nine runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays on June 14.
His recent success included a shutout Friday against the Pirates and a complete game earlier this month against the Braves. But Eflin struggled against the Marlins, allowing nine hits, seven runs and four walks in five-plus innings as the Phillies dropped to 4-9 since the All-Star break.
“You can’t go out there and dominate every outing,” Eflin said. “I just think it’s a mindset thing. I always have a positive mindset, not really ever negative. I think it’s a big thing as a starting pitcher, especially when you have four days off between starts. I’m going to work my tail off the next four days and really focus on the next outing.”
Eflin, whose ERA jumped from 3.40 to 4.23, allowed a leadoff double to J.T. Realmuto in the first inning. He scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 1-0, butGiancarlo Stanton followed and crushed a two-run home run to left field to make it 3-0. Stanton hit a 1-0 fastball, which left his bat at 112 mph and traveled a projected 435 feet, according to Statcast™.
“He hit it pretty well,” Eflin said.
Eflin allowed another run in the fourth and three more runs in the sixth before leaving the game.
“Eflin wasn’t the same pitcher he was in Pittsburgh,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He just left the ball up. I didn’t like the mix of pitches he used. We were hoping he’d use his curveball a little bit more. I thought he made some good pitches that the umpire missed. But that wasn’t the reason. He just wasn’t the same guy.”
It was a disappointment that Eflin could not replicate his success in Pittsburgh, particularly because he grew up in Orlando, Fla. He had family and at least 20 friends in attendance.
“It’s just the experience they got to have,” Eflin said. “It’s really cool knowing where I came from, all my friends being able to be here and supporting me.”
But the early returns for Eflin are encouraging, especially considering he was one of the first pieces acquired in the Phillies’ rebuild. He joined the Phillies in December 2014, as part of the Jimmy Rollins trade with the Dodgers.
He makes his next start Tuesday against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park.