On the day the Phillies got Aaron Nola back after more than a week in COVID protocol, the team lost another starting pitcher Tuesday when Zach Eflin was placed on the 10-day injured list with tendinitis in his right knee.
Eflin had battled patellar tendinitis earlier in his career. He had surgery on both knees to alleviate the problem in 2016.
Eflin's assignment to the IL was backdated to Saturday. He would be eligible to come off the IL in one week, if healthy. He will miss at least two starts. Manager Joe Girardi said the team would use a cast of relievers to fill Eflin's spot in the rotation against the Yankees in New York on Wednesday. Lefty Cristopher Sanchez took Eflin's spot on the roster. He would be a possibility to get some innings. Bailey Falter would have been another possibility to pick up some innings, but he and another reliever, JD Hammer, were placed on the COVID IL shortly before Tuesday's game.
Losing Eflin is a blow. He's one of the Phillies' top three starting pitchers, along with Nola and Zack Wheeler. The Phillies believe they would have a chance in a postseason series because of those three pitchers, but their chances of making the postseason would certainly be hurt if Eflin were to be out for an extended period.
Already, the Phillies are looking to add pitching for a playoff run. They could use a back-end starter and a late-game reliever. If Eflin's condition lingers, they could need two starters and that might be difficult for baseball ops leaders Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld to pull off given the lack of depth the team has in the farm system.
Eflin is 4-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 18 starts. He opened the season by pitching at least six innings in 10 straight starts and has done that 14 times this season. He did not make it out of the fourth inning and allowed six runs in his last start against Miami on Friday.
Nola is set to start for the first time in two weeks Tuesday night against the Yankees in New York. He was scratched from the last game before the All-Star break after he came in contact with teammate Alec Bohm, who tested positive for COVID-19. Bohm has been medically cleared to return and could do so as soon as Wednesday unless the team decides he needs some extra prep time after missing 10 days.
Nola had no symptoms. The right-hander ended up missing just one start as the Phillies were about to play their fifth game back from the break Tuesday night.
Nola has faced the Yankees twice previously in his career. He's allowed just one run in 13⅔ innings, struck out 21 and walked one.
Here is the lineup that the Phillies used Tuesday night against Yankees right-hander Domingo German:
1. Jean Segura 2B
2. J.T. Realmuto C
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. Andrew McCutchen LF
5. Rhys Hoskins 1B
6. Didi Gregorius SS
7. Brad Miller DH
8. Ronald Torreyes 3B
9. Travis Jankowski CF
Aaron Nola P