Phillies @ Dodgers August 8, 2016: The return (?) of Zach Eflin

7:10 p.m. PT
Los Angeles
2B  Hernandez  2B  Utley
 RF  Altherr  SS  Seager
3B  Franco  3B  Turner
1B  Joseph  RF  Reddick
C  Rupp  1B  Gonzalez
CF  Herrera  C  Grandal
LF  Goeddel  CF  Pederson
SS  Galvis  LF  Segedin
Eflin (R)
Urias (L)

Today’s series-opener against the Phillies contains some intrigue for the Dodgers. They are facing old friend (?) Zach Eflin. Eflin was received from the Padres in the Matt Kemp/Yasmani Grandal trade, then flipped to the Phillies for one season of Jimmy Rollins. Eflin has had a very up-and-down debut season. He gave some fuel for the “should have kept” crowd when he allowed a 2.56 ERA in a six-start stretch earlier this season, including a complete-game three hit shutout. However, Eflin’s three other starts have been absolutely terrible. He allowed nine runs in his first start against Toronto, and he’s allowed 13 in his last two outings against Miami and San Francisco. Eflin has one of the lowest strikeout rates in the game, so expect a lot of contact today. He does limit walks, but hasn’t been great at suppressing hard contact. The Dodgers will hope to take advantage of that tonight. Despite the lack of missed bats, Eflin doesn’t lack for velocity, touching 96 while averaging 93 with his four-seam fastball. He also features a two-seam, curve, slider, and change.

Today’s Dodger lineup is nearly the standard right-handed pitching affair, with Josh Reddick back in the cleanup spot. Rob Segedin gets another start in left field, and Howie Kendrick is getting the day off. Chase Utley is starting at second, but his bat has been cool for quite awhile now; his wRC+ is below 100 after his torrid start (.218/.286/.318 since the beginning of June). Howie Kendrick still hasn’t brought his full-season line back to normal, but he has been out-hitting most of the team recently. It may be time to move Kendrick back to second, though forcing Utley to the bench for Rob Segedin doesn’t seem like a move that absolutely needs to be made.

In Dodger injury news, today it was revealed that Trayce Thompson was literally playing through a broken back. A broken back.

If that doesn’t sum up the 2016 Dodgers season, I’m not sure what does.

Joe Blanton has been transferred to the bereavement list, and Josh Ravin has been recalled to replace him. Since returning from his 80-game suspension, Ravin has struck out 18 batters in nine innings. Blanton will be out for this series, returning on Friday in Cincinnati if he’s ready. All the best.

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About Daniel Brim

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Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn't live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.