Two young right-handers made strong returns from the disabled list on Sunday for the Phillies. At the major league level, Jerad Eickhoff was activated from the DL and threw five shutout innings against San Diego to record his first win of the season after dropping his first eight decisions. Eickhoff walked one batter and struck out eight, while his offense backed him with seven runs, all of which came via long balls.
Meanwhile, Zach Eflin made his first start after being activated from the DL and threw 4 1/3 innings in Lehigh Valley’s 5-2 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Eflin allowed two earned runs on five hits and didn’t walk a batter while striking out five. The ‘Pigs win draws them within 1/2 game of the RailRiders in the International League’s North Division as the teams head into the Triple-A All-Star Break.
Eickhoff endured a stretch of 14 straight games without a win to start the season for the Phillies before he wound up on the DL with a back injury that cost him three starts. On Sunday, he looked more like the pitcher that pitched to a 3.44 ERA in his first 41 starts with the Phillies over the past two seasons than he did the guy who had a 4.63 ERA coming into Sunday’s start against the Padres.
The eight strikeouts for Eickhoff were two shy of his career-high of 10, which he has done twice, with the last time being last October 1st against the Mets. After the game, manager Pete Mackanin had praise for the 27-year old’s curveball, which has been a key pitch for him.
“That’s his pitch and when he has that working for him and he can locate it, he’s really good,” Mackanin told reporters following the game.
Eflin had been on the DL since June 3rd with a sore elbow. The 23-year old had made eight starts with the Phillies this season, posting a 6.13 ERA. The Phillies optioned Eflin to Lehigh Valley on May 29 and he pitched in one game with the IronPigs, going four innings and allowing four runs in a loss to Louisville. The next day he was placed on the DL.