Eflin rebounds and bullpen stellar as Phils beat Padres


On a night when Bryce Harper's left thumb fracture likely altered the course of the Phillies' season, they received the sort of pitching effort they'll need consistently in the second half to overcome his loss.

Zach Eflin, who left each of his last two starts early with right knee soreness, rebounded in San Diego with five effective innings in a 4-2 win. The bullpen followed with four perfect innings.

All of it was secondary to the Harper injury, which will be incredibly difficult for the Phils to overcome.

Eflin began the night with four scoreless innings before allowing a two-run double to Jorge Alfaro with two outs in the fifth. Centerfielder Matt Vierling ran down the hard-hit ball and had it lined up at the warning track but simply missed it. Eflin labored in that fifth inning but got through it and his night ended at 80 pitches.

Eflin's situation has been a recent concern for the Phillies. After missing the final 2½ months of the 2021 season with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee and having surgery in September, he's experienced soreness in the knee this month.

He had thrown 38 pitches in his previous start, allowing four runs in two innings to the Nationals. A start before, he gave up four runs in six innings, throwing 80 pitches in a high-scoring game the Phillies eventually lost to the Marlins.

The Phillies would be in a precarious spot if Eflin or any other member of their five-man rotation has to miss time, as their major-league-ready starting pitching depth is basically non-existent beyond Bailey Falter.

Eflin, in a contract year, has had moments this season. He opened June with eight scoreless innings against the Angels. He had back-to-back starts in May allowing one run in six innings to the Padres, then striking out a career-high 12 Dodgers. He pitched well against the Padres again Saturday night.

The Phillies' bullpen protected Eflin's lead with four 1-2-3 innings. Andrew Bellatti had the sixth, Corey Knebel the seventh, Brad Hand the eighth and Seranthony Dominguez the ninth.

Overall this season, Eflin is 3-5 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 13 starts. It looks like his next start will be Friday at home against the Cardinals.

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