SAN DIEGO — The Phillies employed a creative bit of personnel management in getting newcomer Justin Bour on the 25-man roster for Saturday night’s game against the San Diego Padres.
The Phillies did not subtract from their middle-infield bench depth and send J.P Crawford or Scott Kingery to the minors.
They optioned a member of their starting pitching rotation to the minor leagues.
And here’s the thing:
Zach Eflin won’t even miss a start. He’ll be out 10 days of big-league service time and big-league pay, but he will be able to pitch for the Phillies on Thursday and come back and make his normal start after that.
Here’s how it works: The Phillies have a doubleheader on Thursday against the Mets. They are allowed to add a 26th man from the minors for that day and it will be Eflin. After that, he will go back to the minors for the completion of his 10-day option and be eligible to return to the rotation on Aug. 22 in Washington.
The Phillies will still need to make a roster move on Thursday, Friday or Saturday because they will need a pitcher on one of those days because of the doubleheader stack-up, but sending Eflin out buys them some time and allows them a five-man bench and eight-man bullpen in the interim. It’s not the greatest solution if your name is Zach Eflin, but it might help the Phillies win a game in a tight pennant race.
“Zach was professional about this through and through,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He understands that we're going to try to get every marginal advantage through the end of the season that we possibly can, and right now, we have to believe that the division is going to come down to one game. If that's true, having an additional player on our roster that we can use right now is that marginal edge.
“By way of example — just a little potential anecdote — if Maikel Franco leads off the sixth inning with a base hit in a 0-0 ballgame, we might be able to use Scott Kingery to run for him in that situation with the understanding that we have a shortstop (Crawford) still available.”
Eflin was not available for comment. In addition to losing 10 days of service time, he stands to lose about $20,000 in big-league salary.
“Sometimes one guy takes it on the chin so that 25 guys as a group and as an organization and as a team can prosper,” Kapler said. “Our responsibility to the Phillies organization is to get every possible marginal advantage, and this gives us a marginal advantage by having an additional player on the roster.”