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No Eflin’ Around: Philles 4, Pirates 0

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The Phillies got another encouraging start from the pitcher acquired in the Jimmy Rollins trade.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll bet there’s not another first base coach in baseball who feels better about the Jimmy Rollins trade than Ruben Amaro Jr. right now.

The young pitcher the former Phils general manager acquired in the Jimmy Rollins trade two years ago, 22-year-old Zach Eflin, shut down a dangerous Pittsburgh Pirates lineup last night, needing just 100 pitches to notch his first career shutout.

And in only his eighth career start, Eflin pitched his second complete game, something not a lot of pitchers, or teams, have done this year.

Eflin is the only rookie pitcher in baseball to throw a complete game this year, and he’s thrown two. And in all of baseball, here is the list of pitchers who have thrown more complete games than Eflin so far this year.

Johnny Cueto (4), Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Steven Wright, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber (3).

That’s it. That’s the list.

Eflin struck out 6 batters and walked none, featuring a nasty slider that Pirates hitters were flailing at all night.

He now has a 3.40 ERA and a 4.19 FIP in his eight starts, but that includes his disastrous Major League debut in which he gave up 8 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings to the Toronto Blue Jays. Since that debut, he has a 2.08 ERA and a 3.33 FIP, with 24 strikeouts and just three walks.

Opponents are batting .205 against him, and he’s posted a WHIP of 0.86.

So yes, the Jimmy Rollins trade is working out so far.

But the night was not all sunshine and roses. Maikel Franco had to leave the game after getting plunked by a 96 mph Gerrit Cole fastball on the wrist, the same exact spot he got hit last year that caused him to miss virtually the entire second half of the season.

The Phillies say X-rays were negative and that, while he probably won’t play on Saturday, they hope he’ll back very soon.

But after he was hit in Arizona last year, it took the team a full week to officially put him on the DL, and it lasted until the last week of the season.

Obviously, losing Franco would be a crusher, both for the Phillies’ ability to put runs on the board and for Franco’s development. Time will tell if this is the same as last year, or something different.

The Phils and Pirates play the second game of their three-game set Saturday afternoon, at 4:05. Aaron Nola will look to make his second straight strong start, opposed by one of the best young pitchers in the Pirates’ farm system, Tyler Glasnow.