On the day the Phillies got Aaron Nola back after more than a week in COVID protocol, the team lost another starting pitcher Tuesday when Zach Eflin was placed on the 10-day injured list with tendinitis in his right knee.
Eflin had battled patellar tendinitis earlier in his career. He had surgery on both knees to ease the problem in 2016.
Eflin’s assignment to the IL was backdated to Saturday. He would be eligible to come off the IL in one week, if healthy. He will miss at least one start. The team had not announced its plans to fill Eflin’s spot in the rotation. Lefty Cristopher Sanchez took Eflin’s spot on the roster. He could be a possibility.
Losing Eflin is not good. He’s one of the Phillies’ top three starting pitchers, along with Nola and Zack Wheeler. The Phillies believe they would have a chance in a postseason series because of those three pitchers, but their chances of making the postseason would certainly be hurt if Eflin were to be out for an extended period.
Already, the Phillies are looking to add pitching for a playoff run. They could use a back-end starter and a late-game reliever. If Eflin’s condition lingers, they could need two starters and that might be difficult for president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld to pull off given the lack of depth the team has in the farm system.
Eflin is 4-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 18 starts. He opened the season by pitching at least six innings in 10 straight starts and has done that 14 times this season. He did not make it out of the fourth inning and allowed six runs in his last start against Miami on Friday. There is now a good excuse to why that happened.
Moving on, Nola is set to start for the first time in two weeks Tuesday night against the Yankees in New York. He was scratched from the last game before the All-Star break after he came in contact with teammate Alec Bohm, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Speaking of Bohm, he was also cleared to return Tuesday. Bohm is in New York with the Phillies but has to work himself back into baseball shape before he’s reinstated.
Back to Nola, he had no symptoms. The right-hander ended up missing just one start as the Phillies were about to play their fifth game back from the break Tuesday night.
Nola has faced the Yankees twice previously in his career. He’s allowed just one run in 13 2/3 innings, struck out 21 and walked one.