The Philadelphia Phillies continue to receive strong performances from their starting pitchers.
The bullpen, however, remains a major issue.
Entering the club’s series finale Thursday night against the visiting New York Yankees, the Philadelphia bullpen has racked up a mind-boggling 9.18 ERA.
“I think they will turn it around,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “They just haven’t had consistent work. They’re going to get better.”
The Phillies beat the Yankees 11-7 in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday but squandered a brilliant effort by Aaron Nola in a 3-1 loss in the second game. Nola tied his career high with 12 strikeouts in six innings, but Tommy Hunter gave up four hits and two runs in the seventh without registering an out.
The Phillies will hand the ball to right-hander Zach Eflin on Thursday for his first start of the season. Eflin was 10-13 with a 4.13 ERA last season.
In one career start against the Yankees in 2018, Eflin tossed seven scoreless innings and earned the win.
Eflin dealt with back spasms for parts of last season, which caused some inconsistency in his outings. However, he was encouraged with how he threw during the initial version of spring training.
“I don’t think I’ve lost any ground, to be honest with you,” Eflin said last month. “I threw bullpens twice a week through the whole quarantine and stayed in shape and stayed ready. The arm’s still conditioned and everything’s feeling better. … I’m on track and feel like I’m in a really good space.”
The Yankees will look for their second straight win when they send left-hander Jordan Montgomery to the mound for his second start this season.
In Montgomery’s initial start against the Boston Red Sox, he was sharp in allowing just one run in 5 2/3 innings last Friday.
Montgomery has never faced the Phillies in his four-year major league career.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone noted that he will be closely monitoring Montgomery’s pitch count, especially coming off a serious injury. Montgomery missed most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery, returning last September for one relief outing and one start, finishing with no decisions and a 6.75 ERA.
“He’s been built up, his pitch count is built up pretty high right now,” Boone said. “I mean, I’ve talked a lot about how well he threw the ball for us in spring training, how I feel like even his stuff has picked up since before the injury.”
The Yankees, who have lost just twice through the first 11 games, will look to continue an impressive streak on Thursday. When Luke Voit homered in the second game of the doubleheader, it marked New York’s 11th consecutive game with a home run to open a season, topping the team record of 10 set in 1999.
“There’s no limp in this lineup,” Voit said. “Everyone can hit the deep ball, get on base, walk. We have good approaches and don’t swing at balls. It’s a lot of damage throughout.”
–Field Level Media