Zach Eflin giving Rays consistency when they most need it

The Tampa Bay Rays may be in first place right now, but where might they be without the consistent work of Zach Eflin on the mound?
Philadelphia Phillies v Tampa Bay Rays
Philadelphia Phillies v Tampa Bay Rays / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Rays rotation has been heavily impacted by injury. With Tyler Glasnow debuting late, Jeffery Springs’ season-ending injury, Taj Bradley being inconsistent, and now Shane McClanahan on the shelf, Zach Eflin has been the only mainstay in the Rays rotation. 

Over seven big league seasons in Philadelphia, Zach Eflin was never able to turn the corner. But, Eflin has always been a strike thrower, and the long-time Phillie has an excellent six percent walk rate for his career. The issue was always his strike-out rates were never the best, until this season.

With the Rays, Eflin is striking out 26.1% of batters he faces and is walking just 3.9% of them. With the instability of the Rays’ staff, it is crucial for them to have someone like Eflin to give consistent innings. 

Another thing to note about Eflin is he is getting hitters to chase more. His chase rate is up three percent from 2022, but the thing that stands out the most to me is when batters chase, they are only making contact 57% of the time. That is down eight percent down from his 65% clip last season.

I think that credit is due to his revamped sinker. In 2022, Eflin’s sinker broke roughly 2 inches vertically and horizontally, not making it too effective. However, in 2023, Eflin added one more inch of vertical drop (3.4 inches), at the expense of some horizontal movement (1.8 inches).

Even though Shane McClanahan has been the best pitcher for the Rays so far, Eflin has remained on the field. Eflin has given the Rays important innings, and he will be a crucial piece for the second half of the season.