According to Phillies Interim Manager Rob Thomson, a 2022 return for veteran starter Zach Eflin is not out of the question. Eflin has been on the Injured List since late June with what has been described as a right knee bruise. Although the front office was able to acquire Noah Syndergaard at the trade deadline, adding Eflin back to the starting rotation would be a breath of fresh air to the pitching staff.
In recent weeks, the team has placed both right-handers Zack Wheeler and Seranthony Dominquez on the injured list. Both pitchers are expected to return at some point during the stretch run. Corey Knebel was also moved to the 60 Day IL, however, it appears Knebel has thrown his last pitch of the 2022 season. He had to shut it down with a bad shoulder, and the bullpen will surely miss his production in the back end.
Adding Eflin back to the pitching staff would allow the Phillies to move a starter or two to the bullpen, strengthening their depth for a potential trip to October. Left-handers Ranger Saurez and Bailey Falter both have experience pitching out of the bullpen and could be moved to relief rolls once Wheeler/Eflin return to the starting staff. The Phillies may also elect to use Eflin out of the bullpen, which they did for a short time in late 2019.
It is safe to assume the 2022 staff that Rob Thomson has to work with is much deeper than the staff Gabe Kapler was given in 2019. For instance, although Aaron Nola is still around having another great season, the 2019 rotation did not have the likes of Kyle Gibson, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler. If the Phillies were to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2011, the same year Charlie Manuel had the luxury of having “4-aces”, then the pitching staff will most certainly need to get healthy, and the team will need to play to their new found depth on the mound.