Eflin optioned as Kendrick set to return

Move comes after pitcher allows 7 runs in start

Eflin optioned as Kendrick set to return

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies made a roster move Sunday that will have a significant impact on their lineup and rotation.

They optioned Zach Eflin to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following an 8-4 loss to the Reds at Citizens Bank Park, where Eflin allowed nine hits, seven runs, one walk and four home runs and struck out three in five innings. Eflin has a 13.20 ERA in his last three starts, allowing 30 hits, 22 earned runs, five walks and seven home runs in 15 innings.

The Phillies will activate outfielder/infielder Howie Kendrick before Monday night's series opener in Miami. They will make another roster move to replace Eflin in the rotation in the coming days. The best bet to replace Eflin is Triple-A right-hander Ben Lively. Ranked the Phillies' No. 24 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, Lively is 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA in nine starts with the IronPigs. He allowed one unearned run in eight innings Saturday against Louisville.

Nick Pivetta and Jake Thompson are options, but Pivetta (4-0, 1.04 ERA in four starts) is unlikely because he was optioned May 18 after posting a 5.12 ERA in four starts with the Phillies. Thompson (2-4, 5.68 ERA in eight starts) has been inconsistent at Triple-A.

Tom Eshelman (2-0, 1.82 ERA in four starts) has pitched well since his promotion from Double-A Reading, but he is not on the 40-man roster.

"There are some things that I need to work on," Eflin said. "I need to do a better job of pitching backwards, especially in fastball counts. There's a lot of things I can work on, but at the end of the day, I'm not worried about it. I'm going to go down there, work on everything I need to work on and get back here as quick as possible."

Kendrick's diving catch

Kendrick could start in left field on Monday night. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin could move Aaron Altherr to center field to rest Odubel Herrera, who is hitting .132 with a .309 OPS in 68 plate appearances since May 9.

Mackanin said Friday that he wanted Herrera to hit his way out of his slump, but his continued struggles might have changed his mind.

"I plan on giving him a day off here and there because obviously he's not swinging the bat well," Mackanin said. "It's tough mentally when you go through something like this and you have to fight your way out, but it's also a good idea in my opinion to occasionally take a guy out of the pressure and let him relax a little bit and continue to work."

Kendrick also might play some third base. Maikel Franco is hitting .185 with a .494 OPS in 69 plate appearances since May 4.

"He's not giving us consistent at-bats," Mackanin said. "He's searching both physically and mentally. It's not easy for him. I can tell he's down on himself."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.