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Eflin could force Phils to make tough decisions

Right-hander making case to stay in rotation when Eickhoff returns
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Zach Eflin could be creating a numbers crunch in the Phillies' rotation.

He is 1-0 with a 0.71 ERA in two starts since replacing Ben Lively (0-2, 6.85 ERA in five starts) in the rotation last week. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler raved about Eflin's performance in Monday's 11-0 victory over the Giants. Eflin threw a remarkably effective four-seam fastball that is averaging 94.4 mph this season -- almost 1.5 mph faster than last year -- and induced a career-high 14 swings and misses.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Zach Eflin could be creating a numbers crunch in the Phillies' rotation.

He is 1-0 with a 0.71 ERA in two starts since replacing Ben Lively (0-2, 6.85 ERA in five starts) in the rotation last week. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler raved about Eflin's performance in Monday's 11-0 victory over the Giants. Eflin threw a remarkably effective four-seam fastball that is averaging 94.4 mph this season -- almost 1.5 mph faster than last year -- and induced a career-high 14 swings and misses.

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If Eflin is pitching anything close to that in the coming weeks, he is going to stay in the rotation.

It could force the Phillies to make some tough decisions. Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, who is recovering from a strained right lat, pitched 2 1/3 innings Tuesday in an extended spring training game in Clearwater, Fla. He could be ready to pitch before the end of the month. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said a couple of weeks ago that, "when he comes back to this team, he's going to be back in the rotation."

Kapler said Tuesday that "we'll see how he looks when he's fully healthy and capable to contribute and see where our rotation is at that point."

If Eflin continues to pitch well and Eickhoff is throwing well when he is ready to be activated, the Phillies could look elsewhere. Vince Velasquez is 2-4 with a 5.14 ERA in seven starts. Nick Pivetta is 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in seven starts.

"The cool thing about the way our rotation is going right now is we don't have to make any decisions right now," Kapler said. "We have plenty of time before we have to get to that, and at this point we're just kind of happy with the way things are rolling and happy with the way Eickhoff is progressing, happy with the way our guys are coming together at the big league level right now."

Kapler is correct about that. Tough decisions one day can become no-brainers a month from now.

Extra bases
Kapler also provided updates on other injured Phillies:

• He said left-hander Adam Morgan (strained back) feels better. He suffered the injury while working out.

• Right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. (strained right forearm) is scheduled to pitch two innings Wednesday for Class A Advanced Clearwater.

• Shortstop J.P. Crawford (strained right forearm) hit off the practice tee.

"He is progressing nicely," Kapler said.

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.

Philadelphia Phillies, Zach Eflin, Jerad Eickhoff