Eflin (back) threw a bullpen session Monday, Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The session apparently went quite well, with pitching coach Bryan Price calling it "beautiful." Aesthetics aside, the Phillies will be very happy to have Eflin back on the mound after battling back spasms, especially as they're already expecting to be without one starter early in the season, as Zack Wheeler will be away on paternity leave with his wife due to give birth to the couple's first child around Opening Day. Whether or not Eflin is able to build up to a starter's workload for his first turn in the rotation remains to be seen.
Eflin is considered day-to-day due to back spasms, Matt Gelb of The Athletic reports. The issue doesn't appear to be serious, but it's prevented Eflin from facing hitters in any of the Phillies' intrasquad games. WIth Opening Day less than two weeks away, it's quite possible Eflin misses a turn in the rotation or is at least on a fairly low pitch count early on. With Zack Wheeler also set to miss time early due to the birth of his first child, there's a good chance both Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are in the Phillies' rotation to start the year. Highly-rated prospect Spencer Howard could even get a chance right away, as well, despite the fact that he's yet to reach Triple-A.
Eflin's rotation spot is safe even if the shortened season means the Phillies elect to open the campaign with Spencer Howard on the big-league roster, Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Eflin isn't a dominant weapon by any means, but he seemed to have a firm grip on a rotation spot despite his 4.13 ERA last season not being particularly well supported by his 4.85 FIP and 4.76 xFIP. If Howard does indeed open the season in the big leagues, that will come at the expense of Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta, who were battling for the fifth starter spot.
Eflin signed a one-year, $2.625 million contract with Philadelphia on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Eflin cruised to his best season yet in 2019, finishing with a 4.13 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 129 strikeouts across 163.1 frames. He'll likely sit near the middle of the Phillies' rotation during the 2020 season.
Eflin (10-13) earned the win Saturday against the Marlins after allowing three runs on six hits over 7.2 innings. He struck out six and walked two. Eflin worked through 7.2 frames with only one run allowed, but a single and a home run during the eighth inning ended his outing. The 25-year-old had an up-and-down season with a 4.13 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 129:48 K:BB through 163.1 innings, but he'll finish with a quality performance.
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