Phillies-Diamondbacks 5 things: Riding with the rookie Zach Eflin


Phillies (30-39) vs. Diamondbacks (31-39)
1:35 p.m. on CSN

Nothing is going well for the Phillies right now. Saturday's game was their 22nd loss in 28 games.

Fathers' Day gives them another chance to right the ship. Rookie Zach Eflin will look for a much better start after allowing eight runs in less than three innings during his MLB debut. 

Here are five things to keep your eye on to close the weekend.

1. Where, oh where, did the offense go?
Over the last two days, Corey Seidman and I have detailed how the rotation and bullpen have failed the Phillies over the last few weeks. But the team has truly been a mess in all facets, especially on offense.

The lineup has produced a .218 average over its last 300 plate appearances (spanning the last 30 days), the second worst mark in all of baseball. In that time, they've drawn the fewest walks (51), have fewer hits than any other team and scored the fewest runs. In fact, they've scored just 82 runs in the past 30 days, 10 fewer than the next worst offense (the New York Mets). 

Outside of Odubel Herrera, the Phillies simply don't have anyone producing consistently. Tommy Joseph showed flashes of power, but the rookie is in the midst of a 1-for-24 slump. Maikel Franco has yet to take the step forward many expected after his 2015 campaign. 

Manager Pete Mackanin appears willing to try anything, moving Cody Asche to the leadoff spot Saturday while shuffling players like Andres Blanco in and out of the starting nine. Now nine games under .500, there's little reason for the Phillies to seek out a trade to help their current offensive malaise, so there are no reinforcements coming in the immediate future for Mackanin.

Buckle up: It may be a bumpy ride. 

2. Riding with the rookie
Zach Eflin's big league debut wasn't pretty … to say the least.

Eflin was dealt a bad hand having to face an imposing Blue Jays offense to begin his MLB career, but the Phillies needed a fresh arm after Vince Velasquez went on the disabled list. The 22-year-old didn't appear quite ready for the big show, allowing three home runs while walking three in just 2⅔ to the Jays. 

But Sunday is a new day (with a less daunting opponent). Eflin has moved up the minor leagues by limiting both walks and home runs, so maybe we can chalk up his first game to the normal jitters that plague everyone who makes the majors. 

The D-backs don't have quite the offense the Jays sport on a daily basis, but there are some power hitters like Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and Peter O'Brien that can make anyone off their game pay. 

If Eflin is going to stick in the rotation until Velasquez returns (or beyond), Sunday is as good a day as any to turn things around. 

3. Also facing a rookie
The Phillies are thanking their lucky stars that Zack Greinke can only pitch once every five days after his masterful performance Saturday. 

Instead of a former Cy Young award winner, the Phillies will face a former top draft pick, RHP Archie Bradley. Bradley was picked No. 7 overall in 2011. The Diamondbacks gave him a bonus of $5 million, which enticed him to sign instead of going to college to play both football and baseball.

The dual-sport star made his MLB debut at the start of 2015, when he was one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball, according to However, he hasn't quite lived up to the hype thus far.  

He pitched to a 5.80 ERA in 35⅔ innings over eight starts last season, retaining his rookie status going in 2016. His stats look pretty similar this year with a 5.66 ERA in his first 35 innings over six starts. 

Bradley has a propensity to walk too many batters (4.6 per nine innings), but his strikeout stuff has shown through this season, fanning more than a batter an inning. He's still 23 years old, so he has plenty of time to reach his ceiling. 

4. Players to Watch
Phillies: Odubel Herrera has continued his torrid pace despite the slumping hitters all around him. Herrera had a home run Saturday and provided the requisite bat flip to celebrate the occasion. Maybe there'll be some more fireworks against a less impressive starter to top the weekend.

Diamondbacks: As mentioned above, Peter O'Brien can mash. In fact, that's about all he can do. The 25-year-old isn't a slick fielder and can't hit for average, but all three of his hits this year have been home runs (two coming against the Phillies Friday). In 30 at-bats over the last two years, he has just seven hits, but five have been for extra bases, including four homers. 

5. When we last met...
• Bradley's first career loss came against the Phillies on May 16, 2015. The winning pitcher was Jerome Williams.

• He lasted just two-plus innings, giving up four runs on five hits, three walks and a home run, which was hit by now-Atlanta Brave Jeff Francoeur. 

• In that game, Maikel Franco went 0 for 1 with a walk against Bradley while Ryan Howard went 1 for 2 with a booming RBI double. Freddy Galvis had two walks against the rookie while Chase Utley delivered the finishing blow with an RBI single to knock Bradley out of the game.

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