The Phillies don’t have to worry about Jerad Eickhoff ever getting full of himself.
This is one grounded young man.
Eickhoff out-pitched American League Cy Young candidate Chris Sale in helping the Phillies beat the Chicago White Sox, 8-3, at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay). The 26-year-old right-hander has been remarkably consistent in his first full season in the majors. He has not missed a start, is pushing 200 innings and is 11-14 with a 3.75 ERA after starting out the season 2-8. His record would be a lot better if his mates had scored runs for him all season like they did Wednesday night.
With veteran Jeremy Hellickson likely moving on via free agency, Eickhoff could be in line to be the Phillies’ opening day starter next April.
Eickhoff was asked about that possibility after holding the White Sox to three runs over seven innings in his latest win.
His answer showed just how grounded he is.
“As long as I can be one of the guys on the team, one through five, just try to get in the rotation, whatever it is I’m happy with,” he said.
Eickhoff shouldn't worry.
He will be one of the guys next year.
Manager Pete Mackanin called him “a mainstay.” Those are words that get attached to durable pitchers who don’t miss a start and keep their teams in games, as Eickhoff has done so often. He entered Wednesday night’s game with the third-lowest run support in the majors — 3.59 runs per nine innings. He’d be pushing 15 wins with better run support. The Phils are 12-1 when scoring three runs or more in an Eickhoff start.
“That’s a tremendous compliment,” Eickhoff said in response to Mackanin’s calling him a mainstay. “I try to be as consistent as I can. You want to be counted on. To go out there and kind of know what you’re going to get, that’s what I’ve always strived to do.”
Eickhoff leads the team with 187⅓ innings. With two starts left, he has a chance to reach 200 innings.
“I think that would be a pretty cool benchmark to get to with this being my first full year,” he said. “But I try to think as day-by-day as I can and control what I can control pitch to pitch.”
Run support was not a problem for Eickhoff in this game. The Phillies had 10 hits with Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp all getting two each. Sale entered the game with a 3.03 ERA, second best in the AL, but the Phils torched him for six runs in four innings.
The top two men in the lineup, Hernandez and Roman Quinn, combined to reach base seven times and score three runs.
Joseph doubled in a run in the first inning against Sale and Rupp followed with a two-run double.
Joseph clubbed his 21st homer in 298 at-bats, a two-run shot in the third. The rookie first baseman is 12 for 25 with three homers and eight RBIs in his last seven games. He is hitting .262 with a .522 slugging percentage and a .311 on-base percentage.
Joseph was happy to get Eickhoff some run support.
“He’s pitched much better than his record,” Joseph said. “He seems to go up against the ace of every staff as well. To get him run support meant a lot for us. And I’m sure it meant something for him as well.”
Eickhoff has been prone to home runs. He has given up seven in his last two starts, but six have been solo shots and solo shots won’t kill you, as the saying goes.
The Phillies traveled to New York after the game. They open a four-game series against the Mets on Thursday night and will have a chance to impact that club’s postseason hopes. The Mets were swept by the Braves the last three nights and the Phillies would like to do the same.
“I think the guys are up to it,” Mackanin said. “The Mets are playing for something. It would be nice to be a spoiler.”