Sore shoulder hampers Eflin in loss to Giants

Sore shoulder hampers Eflin in loss to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Phillies made three trades the past two offseasons to try to stabilize their rotation. It seems more and more likely they will need to make another move or two this winter.

Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin left Friday night's 10-2 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park after the fifth inning because of discomfort in his right shoulder. He stressed that leaving the game was precautionary, but he will be examined further Saturday. Eflin missed time earlier this season in Triple-A because of a strained right elbow.

"It's just something I wasn't comfortable continuing with," Eflin said. "I want to make sure it's right. I've had some soreness back there before, but not really like this. This is a little different than I've had before. So sleep on it, come in tomorrow and see how it feels."

Eflin allowed seven hits, six runs, two walks and two home runs and struck out two in five innings. He is 1-5 with a 6.16 ERA in 11 starts.

"[I felt it] throughout the game," Eflin said. "It wasn't any one pitch. It just kind of progressed. It increased a little bit. But I don't think it's anything serious, more of a precautionary thing."

The Phillies have used 10 starters this season. They entered the game with a 4.70 ERA, which ranked 17th in baseball. Aaron Nola (3.26 ERA) and Jerad Eickhoff (4.33 ERA) are probably the only two locks for next season's rotation. Jeremy Hellickson got traded last month and injured Clay Buchholz will not return.

The remaining combination of Vince Velasquez (5.13 ERA), Nick Pivetta (6.25 ERA), Ben Lively (3.80 ERA), Jake Thompson (4.20 ERA), Mark Leiter Jr. (4.38 ERA) and Eflin have a combined 5.33 ERA. One or two of them could open next season in the rotation, but it makes sense that the Phillies will acquire at least one veteran starting pitcher in the offseason.

"We're still looking for guys to get it together," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "You take Eflin, last year he had some real good games. He hasn't been able to duplicate that so far this year. It could be his new knees he had fixed. Whatever the reason -- he had some arm issues earlier. This, today. You never know what it's all about. It's just a matter of commanding the ball. That's all it is."

There is no question some folks would love the Phillies to pursue Dodgers right-hander Yu Darvish. But it seems unlikely because it would take a multiyear commitment and Darvish's best seasons are likely to come while the Phillies are still rebuilding.

Phillies fans remember how little they got from Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt at the end of their contracts. They might want to avoid the same situation with a high-priced pitcher like Darvish. Other impending free agents include Jake Arrieta, Andrew Cashner, Jhoulys Chacin, Marco Estrada, Scott Feldman and Jason Vargas.

Trades could be made, too.

Or maybe some of the Phillies' young pitchers will really step up in the season's final weeks. But right now one question is will Eflin make his next start?

"I won't call it an injury," Mackanin said. "He had discomfort."

Just precautionary, for now.

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.