SAN DIEGO — The Phillies could soon receive a boost to their starting rotation in time for the season’s final month as Zach Eflin cruised Saturday afternoon through a rehab start with double-A Reading.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi said before Saturday night’s game at Petco Park that the team has not yet decided what’s next for Eflin, who threw 21 of his 31 pitches for strikes over 2⅓ scoreless innings. Eflin has been on the injured list since July 20 with patellar tendinitis in his right knee.
The likely options are to either activate Eflin and have him start on Thursday or Friday or schedule him for a rehab start later this week with triple-A Lehigh Valley. Eflin struck out three and walked none. He said earlier this month that his goal was to return to the Phillies in August, which remains possible if he does not make another rehab start.
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Kyle Gibson, who is donating money this season to Philabundance and Cradles to Crayons, is also hosting a fantasy football league for charity. The entry price starts at $250 and the grand prize includes a trip to spring training in 2022. All donations will go to a charity selected by Gibson and the registration is open on the website of Big League Impact, a foundation founded by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright. Gibson is their vice president.
“Just being here on short notice and not being able to plan, we didn’t get to do like a big marketing strategy,” said Gibson, who starts Sunday against the Padres. “But I know there’s people everywhere you want to look for ways to get involved and look for ways to be a part of something that’s bigger than them. We all kind of feel that sense of desire. So I told the people at Big League Impact ‘Hey, let’s set something up and give people the chance.’”
Hard to measure
It seems like everything in baseball is able to be quantified with either a stat or a measurement, yet it remains difficult to measure how a pitcher will handle the tension felt when trying to record the final outs of the game. If there was a stat for squashing pressure, Ian Kennedy would seem to grade highly.
He entered Friday with the bases loaded and two outs with a two-run lead. He plunked Fernando Tatis Jr. to bring in a run and then struck out Manny Machado to move the Phillies closer to a 4-3 win.
“When I look at players, you have to look at their heartbeat,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said on Saturday. “Ability is one thing, but heartbeat — allowing that ability to come out — is another thing. He’s one of those guys who has a slow heartbeat. That could have really shook some pitchers up, what happened with Tatis. But it didn’t.”
Sam Coonrod could also be nearing a return to the majors as he continues to rehab with triple-A Lehigh Valley. The hard-throwing reliever pitched a 1-2-3 inning on Friday night. He’s scheduled to pitch 1⅓ innings in his next appearance so the Phils can see how his elbow responds to multi-inning work. His next outing will either be Sunday or Tuesday.