Phillies vs Nationals: Zach Eflin injured in Phillies loss


Phillies good vibes interrupted by loss and pitching injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

WASHINGTON — The heady vibe that engulfed the Phillies clubhouse this month was snuffed out on Sunday when the team lost not just a game, but possibly a starting pitcher as well.

Zach Eflin exited the 9-3 loss to the Washington Nationals after two lackluster innings. It was the second straight start for Eflin, who left Tuesday night’s game against Miami after six innings and 80 pitches with a strained right knee. He underwent surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his knee in September.

There was no immediate word on why Eflin left Sunday’s start, but it was reasonable to believe he had more issues with the surgically repaired knee. The pitcher had been examined by team doctors in the days before the start and had been cleared to pitch. In fact, on Thursday, manager Rob Thomson expressed relief that doctors saw nothing wrong with the patellar tendon in Eflin’s knee. Eflin was diagnosed with only a bruise, according to Thomson, and nothing that would prevent him from going to the mound.

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Three days later …

Eflin was scored for five hits, including a long three-run homer from Juan Soto, and four runs over his two innings on the job. He also hit a batter. The four runs allowed by Eflin came in the second inning. The Phillies hung in the middle of the innings with three unearned runs, but the Nationals pulled away with four runs against Andrew Bellatti and Corey Knebel. The defense was not good behind Bellatti.

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Knebel, who opened the season as the Phillies edged closer, walked in a run and gave up a two-run homer to old friend Maikel Franco in 1⅓ of an inning.

The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Phillies and prevented them from sweeping the last-place five-game National Championship streak. The Phils won the first four, two in extra innings.

The Phillies are still doing pretty well at 15-3 in June, but Eflin’s condition should be cause for concern. The starting rotation is one of the strengths of the team. He entered Sunday with a 3.65 ERA, ninth-best in the majors, while winning 327⅓ innings, second in the majors.

The rotation that built those impressive numbers is not deep. It’s basically five guys – Eflin, Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson and Ranger Suarez – and none have missed a start this season. After this group, there is Bailey Falter and Cristopher Sanchez in the minors and not much more. Losing Eflin for a while will hurt.

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The Phillies are slow Monday before playing two games against the Rangers in Texas and four against a very strong Padres team in San Diego. Eflin’s spot in the rotation will go to San Diego on Saturday. Falter, who started Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader, could be put on duty if Eflin can’t go.

In addition to losing Eflin early Sunday, the Phillies were without Bryce Harper, who continues to receive treatment for a blister in his left hand. Thomson said Harper is making progress and could eventually be ready to go to Texas on Tuesday night.


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