Phillies Pitcher Zach Elfin “Pain Free” After Throwing Again

Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin’s 2016 season was cut short by injury, but he seems to be back on track for the start of 2017.

When Phillies pitchers Aaron Nola and Zach Elfin both underwent season-ending surgeries, their readiness for 2017 was up in the air. Nola completed a throwing program without any complications, but there had been little news surrounding Eflin this offseason until now.

Eflin confirmed on his own Twitter that he started a throwing program and is “pain free”. It was his first time throwing since undergoing surgery months ago to repair the patella tendons in both of his knees. Eflin also fractured his right foot but did not receive surgery for it.

Eflin has dealt with pain in his knees due to patellar tendinits since he was 11 years old. Former Phils second baseman Chase Utley also dealt with this problem in his later years in Philadelphia. General manager Matt Klentak told Matt Breen of Eflin “was pretty excited about the possibility of coming to spring training next year pain-free for the first time in his life.”

The 22-year old Eflin pitched 131.1 innings in 2016 between Triple-A Lehigh Valley and the majors. He was impressive with the Ironpigs as he logged a 2.90 ERA and an even better 2.55 FIP (fielding-independent pitching) in 11 starts.

When Eflin reached the majors, he started off poorly as he allowed nine runs to the Blue Jays. The righty turned in two complete games, including a shutout against the Pirates that helped Philadelphia to the biggest upset of the year according to Fangraphs. Eflin had three more starts allowing more than six runs before going on the shelf. He finished the season with a 5.54 ERA in 11 major-league starts.

Eflin will likely compete with Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Adam Morgan for the fifth spot in the rotation in spring training next year.

Seeing Eflin make this first step in his recovery is definitely a sign in the positive direction. If he keeps throwing pain-free, he will definitely be ready for spring training in 2017 and compete for a spot in the major-league rotation.

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