Today's slightly awkward 12:10pm ET start is highlighted by an intriguing pitching match up between Adam Conley and Zach Eflin. Both have had waves of success this season coupled with some struggles.
|Team||Starter||ERA||FIP||2016 ZIPS Projected ERA|
This will be the ninth start on the resume for Phillie's youngster Zach Eflin. After posting a 2.50 FIP at AAA Leigh Valley in just under 70 innings, Eflin got the call only to be torn apart by the Toronto Blue Jays on June 14th. Even though he couldn't get out of the third inning, I'd seen him pitch at AA Reading and had a suspicion that Eflin was a much better pitcher than his major league debut suggested. While that is easy to say now that Eflin has two complete games in his last four starts, the thing that stands out from the beginning is his control. Posting a 1.57 BB/9 in 2015 at AA, followed up by a 1.45 BB/9 at AAA this season, Eflin generates a lot of contact with the combination of his 2-seam fastball and plus slider.
While his success so far has been promising, many will agree there is some regression to come. For one, some advanced metrics that attempt to isolate pitcher performance aren't too high on him. His xFIP for the season sits at 4.86, his ZiPS projected ERA shown above is at a grotesque 5.40, and the Fangraph's metric SIERA isn't very encouraging at 4.92. Even with the negativity on what he will progress towards as a pitcher for the rest of the season, I envision him as an arm that will likely continue to perform better than his pitching independent stats show due to his ability to control the strike zone and play to his defense very well.
Adam Conley will take the mound for the Marlins today in what has so far been a very encouraging season. The biggest positive is Conley's ability to both generate swinging strikes, with that metric sitting at 9.8% for him on the year. That puts him above the 50th percentile among pitchers this season, and as a lot of analysts have shown, the ability to miss bats and earn strikeouts may be one of the better predictors of future success.
Conley's side arm delivery will be hard to stop comparing to the great Chris Sale, but with some polishing of his slider and changeup going into the next season, I think Conley has a real shot to make a name for himself behind ace Jose Fernandez. Two things that stand out as leading to some of the struggles Conley has had begin with the patience hitters have had against him. Swinging at just under 30% of the pitches that he throws out of the strike zone, hitters tend to sit on fastball with Conley, and that has best the worst of his three pitches thus far in 2016.
The second and more alarming stat is Conley's failing ability to succeed when facing an order for the third time. Referencing a great Fangraph's article by Paul Sporer, Conley's slider to righties becomes nearly unusable to righties deep in games. The first two times through Conley actually has one of the most effective pitches in baseball with a .024/.091/.024 slash line on his slider to righties. Overall, his opponent's slugging percentage against jumps nearly 200 points to .500 overall, while his average against jumps 100 points of its own to .295 overall. I speculate that the metrics for his fastball look so mediocre because of his inability to use his slider late in games to righties, causing him to overuse it, skewing the results.
This is something that could definitely be corrected, and when Conley does, I expect to see even further strides towards being a reputable #2 starter in the major leagues. Watch the third time through the Phillies order closely today.
|PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES||MIAMI MARLINS|
|Cesar Hernandez - SS||J.T. Realmuto - C|
|Odubel Herrera - CF||Martin Prado - 3B|
|Maikel Franco - 3B||Christian Yelich - LF|
|Tommy Joseph - 1B||Giancarlo Stanton - RF|
|Cameron Rupp - C||Marcell Ozuna - CF|
|Tyler Goeddel - LF||Adeiny Hechavarria - SS|
|Taylor Featherston - 2B||Miguel Rojas - 2B|
|Jimmy Paredes - RF||Don Kelly - 1B|
|Zach Eflin - RHP||Adam Conley - LHP|
Things to Note...
- Ichiro currently sits at 2,997 hits in the Major Leagues and will get the day off today after going 1-for-5 in yesterday's win. With no off day tomorrow, as the Marlins stay home for a four game series with the St. Louis Cardinals, there is a good chance that Ichiro will obtain his 3,000th hit by weekend's end. Likely facing no lefties over the next few days unless Tyler Lyons makes a start Saturday, Ichiro will surely get a start or two to help him towards the feat. Keep those MLB At-Bat push notifications on in case you're not watching any of the next few games!
- The Marlins are a decent favorite in this game, with the moneyline set at -190 in their favor, the Phillies sit at +170. The over/under for the game is at a pretty low 7.5, with the under actually being favored at -125. I guess their expecting a pitchers duel between Eflin and Conley, something that could happen, but I think there could be enough late runs by either team to push the over.
Prediction - Marlins squeak by Phillies for series win, 5-4