Eflin finds redemption with strong 2nd start

Rookie exits on positive note after 5 2/3 IP

Eflin finds redemption with strong 2nd start

PHILADELPHIA -- Although Zach Eflin had already moved on in the hours following his exit after 2 2/3 innings in his Major League debut, there was still a part of him that needed to prove himself.

If he didn't in his second Major League start -- and first at Citizens Bank Park -- he at least made progress, limiting the D-backs to two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss on Sunday afternoon.

"Even after the game in Toronto, he seemed like he knew what he needed to do," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's pretty cool, calm and collected. He's not an emotional guy. I think he knows what he's up against, and he knows what he has to do."

Eflin was quick to forget his first start, but he didn't blacklist the outing. The 22-year-old righty still studied the tape. He found what he needed to work on and made the adjustments before his home debut.

"I was kind of rushing that day," Eflin said. "[Today], I was just focusing on ... staying down in the zone, working quick and getting extension."

Giving up a pair of runs and not making it out of the sixth isn't where Eflin hopes to peak, though. While it was a step in the right direction, the Phillies' No. 13 prospect has more to work on.

Mackanin was disappointed with Eflin working up in the zone after his first start. Eflin felt he did a better job of keeping the ball down, but Mackanin saw some pitches his rookie start got away with.

"Eflin looked much better, obviously," Mackanin said. "He located his pitches better. He still got away with some pitches he left up in the zone. We need to see him pitch down in the zone a little bit more. But he's 22 years old, and it was a good confidence booster for him."

In his debut, Eflin had family front and center. His father, his grandparents, his two sisters, his girlfriend and her brother sat in the first row above the visitor's dugout at Rogers Centre. For his Father's Day outing, Eflin's dad, Larry, saw his son get back to the pitcher he was used to seeing.

"It was cool that I was pitching on Father's Day, and he got to come out," Eflin said. "It was really special."

And instead of facing friends and family while walking off the field after having given up eight earned runs, Eflin left to a partial standing ovation from the crowd of more than 40,000 in Philadelphia.

That was important for Mackanin -- and the reason he pulled his starter after only 88 pitches. Two runners were on, but one was intentionally walked and there were two outs. After a degrading exit in his first start, Mackanin wanted Eflin to leave on a positive note in his second.

"I didn't want him to throw over 100 pitches and maybe get burned the next inning, or that inning," Mackanin said. "We wanted him to come out of that game with a positive feeling for his next outing."

Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.