With a rotation headed by Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, I don’t think anyone expected Zach Eflin to emerge as the Phillies’ stopper during the stretch run. But for the second straight start, with the Phillies in dire need of a win, Eflin came through in a big way. Thanks to his performance - as well as a resurgent night by Bryce Harper and the offense - the Phillies beat the Nationals 12-3.
In Eflin’s last start, the Phillies were coming off a two-game losing streak, and he responded with a shutout (albeit a seven-inning one). This time around, the Phillies were in the midst of a four-game skid, and looking like they had all but given up on their season. But Eflin did what Wheeler and Nola failed to do in their most recent turns through the rotation: Provide a strong start and lead the team to victory.
Eflin struck out nine batters in eight-plus innings, and his line would have looked even better if not for a cosmetic two-run home run by Juan Soto in the ninth.
Zach Eflin just completed his final start of the regular season.— Alex Carr (@AlexCarrMLB) September 24, 2020
An 8-inning gem with 9K’s.
He finishes 2020 with career bests in:
And a litany of other things.
He’s really established himself as a legitimate rotation piece for the Phillies.
The offense provided Eflin with plenty of support. After a couple of nights where he looked like he could barely move, Bryce Harper hit two home runs.
.@bryceharper3 wants that postseason spot. pic.twitter.com/PiLVm3cif3— MLB (@MLB) September 23, 2020
Another one for @bryceharper3! #RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/YVIdfQBEUf— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) September 23, 2020
He wasn’t the only Phillie to show a surge of power on Wednesday. Andrew McCutchen, Didi Gregorius, and Andrew Knapp also sent balls into the seats.
It would have been nice if the Phillies could have better distributed these runs, and scored them on a night when the starter wasn’t pitching so well (Like any of the past three days for instance). On the other hand, after the misery of the past week, getting to enjoy an easy win isn’t the worst thing in the world.
This was Eflin’s final start of the regular season, but he’d be in line to pitch the playoff opener if the Phillies qualify for the postseason. After the way he’s lifted them up his past two starts, it would be a nice gesture if they could return the favor.