It's unlikely that Jerad Eickhoff will ever make people forget Cole Hamels, but he pitched well in his major league debut, throwing six shutout innings and picking up the first win of what the Phillies hope will be many wins over a number of seasons for them.
The 25-year old right-hander allowed five hits and walked just one batter in the outing, while striking out five. The only trouble he ran into came in the sixth inning, when the Marlins put runners on first and second with nobody out. Rather than wilting, Eickhoff went back to work and pitched out of the jam, getting Phillies nemesis Martin Prado to line out to center field and then came back to strike out both Justin Bour and Marcel Ozuna.
Eickhoff also helped himself with the bat when he delivered a two-run gourndball to left to score both Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown to put the Phillies up 4-0. Howard would later double to drive in a run and Cameron Rupp added an RBI single in the top of the sixth that put the Phillies up 6-0 at the time. Miami got a run on a lead-off home run from Derek Dietrich in the bottom of the seventh, but the Phillies would get an insurance run in the top of the ninth on another Ryan Howard double that scored Odubel Herrera. Howard finished the night with two doubles and a single, scoring a run and driving in two. Rupp and Herrera each had two hits, with Herrera scoring three times in the game.
Since coming to the Phillies organization, Eickhoff has been everything Philadelphia could have hoped for. In three starts with Lehigh Valley, he is 2-1, 2.49 with 19 strikeouts and just three walks in 21 2/3 innings of work. He was dominating in his last outing against Pawtucket, but tired in the eighth inning, and left with runners on second and third after allowing a run to score. Colton Murray came on in relief, but was unable to strand the runners. Prior to that inning, Eickhoff was dominating the PawSox lineup.
Earlier this season at Round Rock, the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, Eickhoff was 9-4 with a 4.25 ERA in 17 starts and one relief appearance. He opened the year at Double-A Frisco and was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in just two starts.
There's a good chance that Eickhoff will stick in the Phillies rotation for the rest of the season, since they had been going with four starters until they needed a fifth for tonight's game. They're also planning on expanding to a six-man rotation over the final month of the season to limit innings for their young pitchers.
To make room for Eickhoff on the 25-man roster, the Phillies designated left-hander Cesar Jimenez for assignment. Eickhoff was already on the 40-man roster, so the Phillies didn't have to clear any room for him.
Alec Asher, another pitcher acquired in the Cole Hamels deal could also reach the majors in September when rosters expand to a maximum of 40 players. Asher is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts at Lehigh Valley and was 3-6, 4.73 at Round Rock in 12 starts, after starting the season at Frisco, where he made eight starts and was 1-4, 3.98 in his time at Double-A. Overall, Asher is 5-10, 4.19 this season.