Phillies Lose Starter Eickhoff to Injury
The Phillies starting rotation got a huge boost early in the week when the team agreed to a three-year contract with starter Jake Arrieta. Since then, much of the discussion in terms of the starting rotation has who will fill the fifth and final spot, assuming the starting rotation included Arrieta, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez. The Phillies will instead need to find two starters heading in 2018.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia delivered the news that Eickhoff will be out with an injury for a significant amount of time:
Salisbury additionally notes that Eickhoff is in Philadelphia being examined further.
Battling for the fifth spot included Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta and Tom Eshelman. Of the four, Eshelman may have pitched the best thus far in Spring Training Grapefruit League action. However, Eshelman is not on the 40-man roster and may be headed to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start the season no matter what.
Eflin, Lively and Pivetta have performed in that order, looking at Spring Training numbers. However, the Phillies really like Pivetta's arm and he may get consideration. Jake Thompson was under consideration but seems to have fallen behind the others. Drew Hutchison remains in camp but is also not on the 40-man roster and might help the Phillies more if he is stashed at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Mark Leiter, Jr. could get a shot, but the Phillies may wish to keep him in his bullpen/emergency starter role. Leiter is likely to make the Phillies roster at the end of Spring Training.
This is disappointing news for Eickhoff, who hoped to show that his strong 2016 season as more indicative of his ability than the injury-riddled 2017 that showed a decline in his numbers.