The Phillies made a series of roster moves today as two veterans acquired this off-season were placed on the disabled list.
Right-hander Clay Buchholz was officially placed on the 10-day DL after undergoing successful surgery today to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm. That injury is expected to keep him out for 4-6 months. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery.
In his place, the Phils have exercised the contract of Zach Eflin, who made his 2017 big league debut tonight against the New York Mets.
The Phillies traded for Buchholz this winter in a deal with the Boston Red Sox, assuming all of the hurler’s $13.5 million contract as part of the deal. In return they got two starts out of him over 7 1⁄3 innings in which he posted an ERA of 12.27. That comes to $6.75 million per start, or $97,826 per pitch.
Last year, Eflin made 11 starts and, after a historically disastrous Major League debut against the Toronto Blue Jays, had a 2.08 in his next seven outings until chronic knee issues flared up, which resulted him missing most of the last two months of the season after posting a 13.85 ERA in his final three starts.
Eflin had double knee surgery this off-season and is said to be throwing pain-free for the first time in his career. He made two starts in the minors this season, a rehab start for Clearwater and one start for AAA Lehigh Valley in which he threw five shutout innings.
At 23 years and one month old, he is now the youngest member of the team’s 25-man roster. And with Buchholz out of the picture, the Phils boast one of the youngest rotations in baseball.
Via @EliasSports: the Phillies currently have the 2nd-youngest rotation in MLB with an average age of 25 years, 262 days (youngest: COL).— Chris Ware (@cwarephils) April 18, 2017
In the other set of roster moves announced today, the team announced they were putting outfielder Howie Kendrick on the 10-day DL with a right abdominal straight (retroactive to April 16). Daniel Nava got the start in left field against New York in the series opener, although it will be interesting to see if Aaron Altherr gets the lion’s share of starts in Kendricks’ absence.
When asked about the decision to start Nava over Altherr, manager Pete Mackanin said, “[Nava’s] swinging the bat as well as anybody, he gives you real good at-bats. (Aaron) Altherr has shown some better at-bats with his change of approach. He'll be getting more playing time as we go, I'm just trying to sneak everyone in when we can." (quotes per Ryan Lawrence of The Philly Voice)
In Kendricks’ place, the team has called up right-handed pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. from Lehigh Valley.
Leiter Jr. was picked by the Phillies in the 22nd round of the 2013 MLB draft. He appeared in two games for the Iron Pigs this year as a middle reliever where he gave up one earned run in his first 5 1⁄3 innings pitched.
Last year he appeared in 23 games (17 starts) for AA Reading, with a 3.39 ERA in 103 2⁄3 innings, striking out 8.2 batters per nine while walking 2.6. Leiter Jr. is also the answer to a bona fide “Phun Phact.”
Mark Leiter Sr. pitched for the Phils in the late-90s. They become second father-son duo to play for Phils, joining the Amaros— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) April 18, 2017
With Buchholz and Kendrick now on the DL, a significant chunk of their payroll is physically unable to perform those duties.
It’s possible another move will be made in the coming days as the team may look to bring up another bench bat and send Leiter Jr. back down to the minors. Roman Quinn would be the most likely candidate to earn a promotion should that happen.
It was a bad day to be a Phillies veteran.