Short outings have Phillies in a 'bad stretch'

Starters have gone six or more innings 15 times, ranking 28th in MLB

Short outings have Phillies in a 'bad stretch'

ARLINGTON -- Manager Pete Mackanin holds onto the belief that once the Phillies' rotation falls in line everything else will, too.

In the meantime, the losses continue to mount.

Right-hander Zach Eflin allowed 11 hits and seven runs in four innings Wednesday night in a 9-3 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Park. The Phillies are 3-14 since an April 27 victory over the Marlins moved them to 11-9. Phillies starters have a 6.18 ERA in that stretch and have allowed 21 home runs, while opponents have posted a .936 OPS against them.

"It's early in the season. I'm not going to assume we're this bad," Mackanin said. "I know we're not. When things go bad, they snowball. When things go good, you get that feeling you're going to win. I'm not concerned, I just don't like losing. And this is a bad stretch."

Mackanin on offensive struggles

This was the fifth time this season a Phillies starting pitcher failed to pitch more than four innings in a game. Phillies starters have pitched six or more innings just 15 times this season, which ranks 28th in baseball.

Eflin had been one of the rotation's most dependable starters since he replaced the injured Clay Buchholz in April. He had pitched six or more innings in four of his five starts, including seven innings three times. He had not allowed more than three runs before Wednesday.

"It was disappointing because I was counting on him to pitch the way he has been," Mackanin said. "He's been outstanding. He couldn't get the ball down in the zone. It was all about command once again."

The Rangers jumped on Eflin's typically reliable fastball and ran him from the game early.

Opponents had hit just .232 against Eflin's two-seam and four-seam fastballs this season, according to Statcast™. He threw his fastballs 71.4 percent of the time. Among pitchers with 400 or more pitches this season that ranked fifth in baseball behind Bartolo Colon (82.6 percent), Kendall Graveman (80.9 percent), Antonio Senzatela (76.7 percent) and Lance Lynn (76.6 percent).

But the Rangers went 4-for-6 against Eflin's two-seamer and 3-for-3 with three sacrifice flies against his four-seamer.

"I did a horrible job of locating the fastball, keeping them off balance, pitching inside -- I kind of veered away from that today," Eflin said. "I fell behind hitters. I did a good job of throwing it right into their bats. I didn't do my job."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.