Eflin is pronounced EFF-lynn.
Eflin has a 91-95 mph 4-seam FASTBALL with above-average life, and a 90-94 mph 2-seam SINKER. His best secondary pitch is his a plus 85-88 mph CHANGEUP with sink and late bite, which gets a 55 grade. He also has an 85-87 mph SLIDER that has decent shape and is an effective chase pitch that will flash 50 at times. And he has a 45 grade 77-80 mph CURVEBALL.
He has excellent arm speed on his change, which sells its deception.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 44.3% of the time; Sinker only 19.1% of the time; Change 6.9%; Slider 25.2%; and Curve 4.4% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 22.9% of the time, his Sinker 46%; Change 7.2%; Slider 12.2%; and Curveball 11.7% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93.7 mph, Sinker 92.7, Changeup 86.5, Slider 86, and Curve 77.9 mph.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 46.5% of the time, his Sinker 11.8%; Change 11.1%; Slider 22.7%; Curveball 5.4%; and Cutter 2.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 95.3 mph, Sinker 93.7, Changeup 87.2, Slider 86.1, Curve 78, and Cutter 89 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 33.3% of the time, his Sinker 22.2%; Change 7.9%; Slider 30.7%; Curveball 5.4%; and Cutter less than 1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.3 mph, Sinker 93.6, Changeup 87.1, Slider 87.5, Curve 78.2, and Cutter 90 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 9.1% of the time, his Sinker 52%; Change 5.5%; Slider 20%; Curveball 12.9%; and Cutter less than 1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.8 mph, Sinker 94.2, Changeup 88.3, Slider 88.9, Curve 79.4, and Cutter 87.6 mph.
Zach gets a 55 for his fine control.
Zach has an easy arm action and stays tall and rigid in his repeatable delivery. But that keeps him from getting maximum extension out front.
"The strength has caught up with the ability to repeat the arm action and delivery," an area scout said in the spring of 2012. "It's one of the cleaner arm actions. He has done a good job of building arm strength and strength of the body."
Eflin could develop into a #4 in a rotation.
In 2013, Eflin first teamed with pitching coach Burt Hooton at low Class A Fort Wayne.
“I started working in bullpens on throwing my two-seamer a lot more,” Eflin said. “Burt basically expressed that you need to throw the ball to contact, and I think that really helped my game a lot as far as locating my two-seamer, making my pitching a craft and understanding the hitters.
“Location, location, what to do in certain counts and reading hitters—I think that was the biggest thing that’s helped me so far.”
In 2015, Zach improved his knowledge of pitch sequencing and how to best finish off a hitter when he has two strikes on him.
Eflin pitches to contact and has learned how to finish hitters off with a strikeout, when appropriate.
May 11, 2019: Eflin recorded his second career shutout.
Sept 18, 2019: Eflin is 2-1 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts since rejoining the rotation and recommitting himself to throwing more sinkers.
“At the end of the day, I’m going out and attacking guys and if it’s my sinker that day that’s working, I’m going to use my sinker. If it’s my changeup, I’m going to use my changeup,” Eflin said. “We figure out what we have going early in the bullpen before the game. Today was the sinker. It’s been working these last couple outings so if it’s there next outing you’ll probably see it again.”
In 2019, Eflin took some positive steps. He went 10-13 with a 4.13 ERA, but he showed flashes of his potential at the beginning and end of the season. He was 6-7 with a 2.83 ERA through his first 14 starts before going 1-4 with an 8.75 ERA in his next 11 appearances, including four relief outings following a demotion to the bullpen in July.
The 25-year-old grew tired at times of throwing four-seam fastballs at the top of the strike zone, putting his favored sinker in his back pocket. Eflin got back to his sinker once he rejoined the rotation in August because he wanted ground balls and quick outs. It worked. He compiled a 3-2 record with a 2.83 ERA in his final seven starts.
In 2018-2019, Eflin was 21-21 with a 4.23 ERA. This puts him ahead of Vince Velasquez (16-20, 4.88 ERA) and Nick Pivetta (11-20, 4.99 ERA) on the depth chart.
“I think there’s a fairly clear distinction, and that’s not meant to be a knock on Vinny or on Nick,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “I just think that Eflin has experienced more sustained success. I also think he’s been dominant for longer stretches of time, and the net of the two seasons, the numbers combined look like an established Major League starter’s. There’s probably less to poke holes in. Again, this is much more about Eflin and the success that he’s having. I personally think that Eflin has really established himself as a dependable piece of a Major League rotation.” (T Zolecki - MLB.com - Sept 28, 2019)
- 2020 Improvements: Eflin came to a crossroads with a seldom-used weapon in his arsenal. He had a curveball, but he rarely threw it, because he didn't often trust it.
Perhaps, he thought, he should ditch it. But then Eflin started to throw his curveball more aggressively. Phillies manager Joe Girardi liked it. He told Eflin that he should throw it more. Eflin finally unleashed his not-so-secret weapon with remarkable effectiveness in a 4-1 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.
The victory helped the Phillies win five consecutive games for the first time since July 31–Aug. 5, 2018, and moved them to .500 for the first time since Aug. 18. Philadelphia can sweep Atlanta and move within one game of first place in the NL East with a victory in the series finale.
“For Zach, I’ve been thrilled with what I’ve seen,” Girardi said. “Today, he had it all.”
Eflin (2-1, 4.10 ERA) threw his curveball 19 times as he dominated the Braves for seven innings before a 37-minute rain delay ended his afternoon. He allowed four hits, one run and struck out eight. It is the first time in his career that he struck out eight or more batters without a walk.
Eflin struck out six batters with his curveball. He had never previously struck out more than three batters in a game with it.
He has never struck out more than nine batters in a season with it.
“I’m not flipping it over for strikes anymore,” Eflin said. “I’m being aggressive with it and trying to create as much spin as possible with it. I think that’s complementing all my other pitches. It’s a confidence pitch. I trust it, just like I do with all of my weapons. We’re going to continue to use it. Now, it’s really kind of grip and rip—think fastball the whole time and accelerate through the pitch. It’s been a huge learning point for me. I’m happy where it’s at, and I’m happy to continue moving forward with it.” (Todd Zolecki - Aug. 29, 2020)
Sept. 18, 2020: Eflin pitched a shutout. It is the third shutout of Eflin’s career, and his first since May 11, 2019, in Kansas City. Since '04, Eflin is just the fourth Phillies pitcher with three or more shutouts. Cliff Lee (eight), Cole Hamels (seven) and Roy Halladay (five) are the others. Since Eflin’s big league debut in 2016, only two pitchers have thrown more than three shutouts: Corey Kluber (six) and Ervin Santana (four).
Sept 23, 2020: Eflin preceded this start with a seven-inning shutout against the Blue Jays. He is 3-1 with a 3.65 ERA (15 earned runs in 37 innings) in his last six starts. He has struck out 41 and walked six in that stretch. Eflin has flashed an impressive curveball during that span, striking out three batters with the pitch. Over his last six starts, he has fanned 18 of 41 (43.9 percent) batters on curveballs. In comparison, he struck out just 25 of 347 batters (7.2 percent) on curveballs in the first 82 games (78 starts) of his career.
“To be completely honest, I just stopped throwing it like a baby,” Eflin said. (T Zolecki - MLB.com - Sept 24, 2020)
- 2020 Season: It was the best season of Eflin's MLB career. He posted a career-low 3.97 ERA, a career-low 1.271 WHIP, a career-low 3.23 xFIP, and a career-high 10.7 K/9 rate. It was a super promising few months of baseball for the often criticized right-hander, a stretch that left the Philadelphia Phillies feeling pretty good about him being their established “#3” moving forward.
Eflin’s velocity on his sinker and curveball was a tick higher than we’ve come to expect with him, and it led to a very strong ten starts.
As of the start of the 2021, Eflin had a career record of: 29-33 with a 4.63 ERA, having allowed 80 home runs and 508 hits in 478 innings.
- 2021 Season: Eflin had a 4-7 record, 4.17 ERA, 1.249 WHIP and 99 strikeouts in 18 starts this season. He got off to a strong start, recording a 2.77 ERA in his first four starts, including a pair of seven-inning appearances. But, his ERA crept up to 4.10 by the end of May, including a stretch of four straight losses, where he gave up a combined 14 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings.
The right-handed pitcher looked to be getting back on track, giving up multiple runs in just three of his next six starts entering the All-Star break. In his first game after the break, he lasted only 3 2/3 innings, giving up six runs (five earned). He was later placed on the IL with a kneecap injury, nearly returning in late August before ultimately missing the remainder of the year.
Eflin pitched six or more innings in 14 starts while giving up more than three earned runs in six of his games. He had 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.4 walks per nine innings. Despite the rough stretch, he still had a decent season and looked to play a significant role in the starting rotation before his injury. ( Bryce Turner - Oct. 26, 2021)