Phillies

Phillies

MIAMI – Through all the ups and downs experienced by the Phillies’ young starting pitchers this season, Jerad Eickhoff has soldiered on like a fastball at the knees, unhyped but extremely effective.

Eickhoff has not racked up a 16-strikeout shutout like Vince Velasquez did.

He has not authored a 92-pitch complete game like Zach Eflin did.

He didn’t post a 0.99 WHIP over his first 12 starts of the season (that ranked sixth in the majors at the time) like Aaron Nola did.

All he has done is, without flash, make every start and solidify himself as a key building block in the team’s rotation going forward. Oh, yeah, he’s also given the Phillies a chance to win more often than not when he's taken the mound.

Eickhoff continued his season of consistency in backboning the Phillies’ 6-2 win over the Miami Marlins on Monday afternoon (see Instant Replay). The 26-year-old right-hander was tagged for three hits and two runs in the first inning, but never fretted. He held the Marlins to just three more hits over the next five innings and earned the win when Freddy Galvis (two-run homer in the fifth) and Jimmy Parades (two-run pinch-hit single in the seventh) sparked an offense that scored just 11 runs while being swept in the previous six games at home.

 

“I’m just happy to get a couple runs,” manager Pete Mackanin said after the game. “Obviously, a big hit by Freddy. And Eickhoff pitched well.”

While Nola and Eflin have gone down with season-ending injuries and Velasquez has been shut down because of an innings limit, Eickhoff has gone 10-13 with a 3.86 ERA in 28 starts. Not bad when you consider he was 2-8 on June 2, a record that wasn’t all his fault as he received an average of just 2.6 runs of support in going a month without a win.

“To be 10-13 is really a testament to his fortitude and his makeup,” Mackanin said. “He’s a grinder and he takes it very seriously. He’s pitched extremely well. If it weren’t for some poor run support, he might have 14 wins.”

Eickhoff joined the Phillies organization 13 months ago as part of the trade that sent Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers. In 36 big-league starts, all with the Phillies, he is 13-16 with a 3.58 ERA. To watch him closely is to see improvement. He's learned to mix his pitches better, and he's especially gotten better in limiting damage, preventing big innings after giving up a run or two. He did that Monday.

“All the things that have happened this year, good or bad, I’ve learned from,” the pitcher said.

Coincidentally, Eickhoff made his big-league debut in Marlins Park – the same place he pitched Monday – a little over a year ago.

Eickhoff is mature, bright and full of purpose. He’s not here for kicks. He’s here to get better every time out and ultimately become a good major-league pitcher. He’s on his way to becoming that.

After coming out of the game for a pinch-hitter Monday, he sat in the dugout and reflected back to his first big-league start and how far he’s come since the trade.

“I was sitting in the dugout today and I knew I was done,” Eickhoff said. “You just think back to all the times when maybe it didn’t go well or it did go well, and I just think how fortunate I am to be able to do this. There’s been so many people that have helped me get here and helped me learn to get to this point, whether it’s the coaching staff to Chooch (Carlos Ruiz), even though he’s gone now. I’ve just been really lucky to have guys to help push me forward in my learning process and help quicken that as well.”

Eickhoff’s diligent approach to the game has won admirers in the clubhouse.

Galvis, the shortstop, invoked a pretty big name when talking about Eickhoff after the win.

“He always has control of the game,” Galvis said. “He has good pace. He's got a good breaking ball.

 

“He reminds me a little bit of (Roy) Halladay when I played some games behind him. Just the way he throws strikes, his work, his work ethic. The tempo is almost the same, the way he controls the game.”

That’s a pretty good compliment.

And without flash, Jerad Eickhoff has had a pretty good season, certainly one both he and a growing Phillies team can build on.