Morgan's spot in jeopardy as struggles continue

Morgan's spot in jeopardy as struggles continue

PHILADELPHIA -- Hours before Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan threw a pitch on Wednesday night at Target Field, an inquiring mind asked Phillies manager Pete Mackanin about Vince Velasquez's seemingly imminent return from the 15-day disabled list.

Did Morgan need a big start against the Twins with Velasquez's return looming?

"Yes," Mackanin said bluntly.

But Morgan struggled in a 6-5 loss. He allowed 11 hits, five runs (four earned), one walk and struck out three in five innings against a Twins team that entered night 25th in baseball with an average of 4.03 runs per game.

Morgan is 1-6 with a 6.55 ERA in 11 starts.

"It wasn't a good start," Mackanin said. "Eleven hits in five innings. … I don't know what to say. I'm not happy with his performance and we'll talk about everything with Matt [Klentak, GM] tonight, and hopefully have something for you tomorrow."

Morgan joined the Phillies' rotation in April when Charlie Morton suffered a season-ending hamstring injury. He got the nod because he pitched well in Spring Training - narrowly losing the No. 5 job in a tight competition with Velasquez -- and because he pitched competently last season, posting a 4.48 ERA in 15 starts. But with Morgan's continued struggles this season, the Phillies might decide to give rookie right-hander Zach Eflin a longer look.

Eflin, who is the organization's No. 13 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, joined the rotation when the Phillies placed Velasquez on the DL earlier this month with a strained right biceps.

"That's something you have to deal with," Morgan said. "You can't really think about it. I know that I haven't been doing my job, and I need to get better at it."

Velasquez might still need another rehab start, although he has insisted in the past week he only needed the one he made Wednesday night with Double-A Reading. Either way, Mackanin is a bit surprised Morgan has looked so wildly different than the pitcher he watched last season and this spring.

"Up in the zone, pitch selection is not good," Mackanin said. "I don't know what the plan is right now, but I'm sure I'll talk to Matt. I know Velasquez pitched pretty well today, so we'll just have to see tomorrow. I don't have an answer for you on that."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.