Major League Baseball can be an unforgiving place. Phillies rookie Zach Eflin learned that the hard way. Today, the team opted to give the 22-year-old a crash course in elite MLB offenses, allowing him to make his debut against the vaunted Toronto Blue Jays in the homer-happy Rogers Centre.
By the end of his afternoon, Eflin had recorded as many outs as earned runs allowed (eight). While all of the Toronto batters had a field day (every starter reached base at least once), reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson led the way with two doubles, a grand slam, five RBI, and three runs scored. As Sportsnet’s Adren Zwelling noted, Donaldson seemed to really be squaring up the offerings from Eflin.
I think Josh Donaldson was seeing Zach Eflin well today. Exit velocities: 101-mph (double), 109-mph (double), 108-mph (grand slam).
— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) June 14, 2016
While the future is undoubtedly bright for the young righty, Eflin’s debut will go down as one of the most disastrous in recent memory. Fortunately, as shown in this tweet from Philly beat writer Matt Gelb, Eflin managed to leave the stadium in good spirits despite his early struggles.
"It still was a dream come true," Zach Eflin said. "I was out there in front of 50,000 people playing the game I love." He'll start Sunday.
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) June 14, 2016
Luckily for Eflin, his second career start should come under much more favorable circumstances. He’s currently slated to make his first appearance in front of the home crowd this upcoming weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’ll be shifting from a top-3 offensive environment in Toronto to one of the league’s more run-stifling ballparks (Citizen’s Bank currently ranks 26th out of 30 in terms of runs).
The Phillies still have lofty expectations for the former first-rounder. Acquired from the Dodgers in the Jimmy Rollins trade, the hope is that Eflin can join Aaron Nola, Vincent Velasquez, and Jerad Eickhoff in the next wave of starting pitching for the big league club.
Regardless of what the future holds, you’re now officially a Major Leaguer, Zach. Welcome to the show! It can only get better from here.