Zach Eflin, scheduled to start tomorrow’s game against Boston, has been placed on the IL with a back strain.
Eflin says he’s had this sort of back problem before, that an MRI left him optimistic that he will be able to return on April 23, when he becomes eligible.
Eflin, signed by the Rays as a free agent, has made two starts, pitching 11 innings and giving up four earned runs.
His injury paves the way for the major league debut of Taj Bradley, a 22 year old right handed pitcher who is currently ranked eighteenth on MLB’s prospect list.
A 2018 fifth round draft pick, Bradley has pitched 317.2 minor league innings with a 2.66 ERA. A Baseball America scouting report from this spring noted:
Bradley’s fastball and cutter/slider give him a pair of big league-ready pitches. His nearly plus-plus 94-96 mph fastball will touch 97-98 and has plenty of life. He throws a plus cutter/slider that is thrown with a cutter grip and a fastball mentality, but he has the ability to make it bigger and sweepier or tighter and harder. It’s not a strikeout pitch as much as it is one that hitters struggle to barrel. Bradley’s ability to throw both of these pitches for strikes gives hitters problems. When Bradley is on, hitters are usually behind in counts. The question has long been whether he develop a third pitch to go with them. So far, he’s struggled to find the confidence in either his curveball or a changeup. He’s tried a variety of changeup grips but has returned to a splitter that will flash average. He needs to use it more to develop his feel for it. His 76-78 mph, below-average curveball could be an early-count surprise pitch to steal a strike, but he struggles to land it in the zone