By the end of September, the planet is sick of us. Baseball squeezes in its last few desperate fits, but we all know what’s coming: closed schools, icy roads and blog posts about baseball executives meeting.
It’s as though we are being prepared for baseball’s natural stopping point. But in mid-August, baseball is at its regular season’s most pulse-pounding, and the horrifying introspection of the cold months isn’t even a thought. In August, a season ending means something bad has happened.
It already happened to Aaron Nola. And now another young Phillies pitcher, Zach Eflin, will have his season conclude long before it was supposed to.
Zach Eflin had right knee surgery today. Expectation is he'll need left knee surgery, too. Phillies say he could be ready by spring.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) August 19, 2016
One knee down, Eflin is undoubtedly very excited for surgery on the other one, meaning of course that 2016 won’t see him throwing from a mound again.
The 22-year-old checks out with a 5.54 ERA, 31 SO, 17 BB, 1.326 WHIP, and -0.2 WAR. He was the only National League rookie to throw two complete games - one of which was a shut-out. This was during July, a month in which he averaged seven innings a start, and allowed only six runs in four games until July 27. This is was deemed the day it all went wrong (The Marlins pounded him for 7 ER and he gave up 4 BB), making the time between his debut (in which he was pummeled with 8 ER in less than 3 IP) and that late July game against the Fish his encouraging ceiling for the season.
The knee issue haunting Eflin - patellar tendinopathy, the same affliction that got a hold of Chase Utley’s knees - has been a factor since he was 11. His knees will be braced up for the next month and half and then he’ll have those cold, dead months I spoke of earlier to set aside for the fun of injury rehabilitation. Yay!
It’s not a hopeless situation, it’s just a sad trombone playing in the final stretch of a season in which we were very anxious to hope. We’ll see Eflin again next season, when this young staff will be tasked not only with proving something in their follow-up campaigns, but some of whom will be doing so while recovering from debilitating injuries.