The Philadelphia Phillies may be hot, but they have a big problem on their hands with regard to their starting pitching. The group may not look like an issue on the surface, as the Phillies starters rank in the top ten in ERA, second in innings pitched, and sixth in strikeouts, but there are concerns about how long the team can keep this up.
One of the more concerning issues for the Phillies has been the health of Zach Eflin, specifically, his right knee. Eflin’s knee has been a point of concern for years, even before he came to the Phillies. He’s actually been dealing with chronic knee pain since he was about ten years old.
Eflin pushed through, however, and made his way to the MLB, although in 2017, he would have to end his season with patella-tendon surgery on both his left and right knees. Eflin would return that spring with a renewed spirit, but the results were not much different post-surgery. Eflin would again undergo a procedure to surgically repair his right patellar tendon in September of 2021. He would start the year supposedly healthy, but now, just 12 starts into the season, it seems his knee is causing him issues once again.
At some point, the Phillies have to ask themselves, ‘how big of a problem are Zach Eflin’s knees?’
On June 14th, against the Miami Marlins, Eflin would give four quick runs before pitching lights-out baseball over the next five innings. He was then pulled after only 80 pitches in those six total innings, a decision many questioned considering how unstoppable he seemed since the first inning.
As it turns out, the reason Eflin left after six was that he was dealing with soreness and tightness in his recently repaired right knee. It was discovered that it was “only a bruise,” and the team decided that Eflin would pitch in his next outing against the Washington Nationals.
That outing did not go as planned as Eflin was only able to pitch two innings. After the game, interim manager Rob Thomson revealed that the plan was only for Eflin to go three innings against Washington. It seems the Phillies, at this point, aren’t overly concerned and expect this situation to work itself out with some time. They may not be able to afford that approach, however.
Philadelphia may not want to admit it, but they have an issue when it comes to Zach Eflin’s knees. While Eflin hasn’t been lights out this season, the thought of losing him is highly problematic considering the lack of in-house options behind him. The Phillies currently sit two games back in the Wild Card race. Hopefully, the team realizes they can’t take this lightly and take a proactive approach instead of a reactive one.