It’s Zach with a “ch” not a “ck” like that comedian that pleasures himself in front of unsuspecting women. Don’t worry, I’m told Zach only does this in front of the Philly Phanatic. (And who could blame him, the Phanatic is thicc.) Anyways, this is an Eflin underrated hurler right here! Total sleeper status. Except Grey ranked him 64th in his top starters for 2019, which I didn’t view until after writing the bulk of this. So, Zach’s not really underrated by Razzball terms, nor his he overrated, so let’s say that he’s just around the Greydar. Much like your mother. Regardless… this post can serve as a reminder to watch out for him on draft day. Eflin right!
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Some question whether Eflin will even be in the rotation to start the year, but he’s currently projected as the Phillies fifth starter in a rotation that includes the oft-injured Vince Velasquez. Zach will be turning 25 in April and track records show pitchers age like wine so he’s like not old, I guess. Last year he peaked prematurely. Like I did in eighth grade. God I was sick back then. I would’ve been the man in high school if I went. Dad said gigolos don’t need a high school education. Even though his season climaxed prematurely, a half season of fringe all-star pitching hardly makes him a two-pump chump. In 2018 he had a career high in starts (24). His previous high was 12. This could be a key reason why his second half contrasted so much from his first. More starts = fatigue and opposing teams figuring out his weaknesses. Prior to the All-Star break, he had a 3.15 ERA, .233 opponent batting average, and 67 strike outs in 68.2 innings. Post break, his walks went up dramatically as well as opponent’s batting average. This led his ERA to increase to 5.76 post break. He also struggled all year against lefties. Lefties slugged .496 while righties just .382, Eflin A. There’s obviously reason for caution here, but there are plenty of hints at success to come. His FIP for the entire year was 3.80 which would’ve been 26th best in the league, but he missed qualifying. His fastball gained almost two mph from 2017 to 95.28 mph. Eflin added a cutter to his repertoire and his changeup improved. He used his changeup almost 5% more than in 2017 and the whiff % on this pitch went from 4.5% to 18%. Improvement in those areas in one season is a sign he’s capable of another big improvement for the upcoming season.
This is a young pitcher on a team that has a chance to win a lot of games. He has had another off-season to improve. And he’s likely to face the AAA team in Miami a couple times. His first half statistics alone make him worth a late round flyer.