BREWERS (26-19) AT PHILLIES (24-18)
1:05 p.m. ET; NBCSP, FSWI, MLB.TV
The Milwaukee Brewers benefited from strong pitching to rebound from a series-opening loss to capture the next two contests.
The Philadelphia Phillies will look to bounce back on Thursday afternoon as they send their hottest pitcher to the mound in a bid for a split of the four-game series with the Brewers, who have won nine of their past 12.
Right-hander Zach Eflin (5-3, 2.47 ERA) recorded two complete games to highlight a 3-0 mark with a 1.39 ERA in his last three starts.
He allowed just two runs, 15 hits and two walks in that three-game stretch and became the first Phillies pitcher since Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in 2011 to collect multiple complete games in the team’s first 38 contests.
Eflin, 25, scattered four hits and struck out seven without issuing a walk Saturday in a 7-0 win at Kansas City.
Eflin, who is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his career against the Brewers, would be wise to keep a keen eye on Ryan Braun, who has tormented the Phillies in his career — especially at Citizens Bank Park. Braun is 3-for-8 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs in this series to improve to 60-for-147 (.408) with 45 RBIs with 38 runs in Philadelphia.
Speaking of former National League Most Valuable Players, Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper provided a few solid swings at the plate as he attempts to work his way out of his offensive doldrums. Harper lined a double to left field Wednesday in the Phillies’ 5-2 setback to Milwaukee, ending an 0-for-15 stretch.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler had told reporters that he was not considering having Harper sit out as a means to possibly change his fortunes.
“I don’t have a tangible reason why we shouldn’t play him,” Kapler said. “We think he gives us our best chance to win tonight. We think he will be positively impacted by being in tonight’s lineup. We’ll consider it on a day-to-day basis. He and I will have those conversations.”
Phillies shortstop Jean Segura is swinging a hotter bat of late, as he belted a solo homer in the first inning and carries a six-game hitting streak into Thursday’s contest versus right-hander Zach Davies (4-0, 1.54 ERA).
Davies received a no-decision in his last start against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, allowing one run on six hits.
The 26-year-old is 1-1 with a 7.15 ERA in a pair of starts versus Philadelphia, with Andrew McCutchen (4-for-12, homer, five RBIs) and Maikel Franco (4-for-6, homer, four RBIs) enjoying success in small sample sizes.
In addition to having contend with Davies, the Phillies will need to perform better in the field after a pair of mental miscues led to a three-run third inning on Wednesday.
“I think we didn’t play a good game from most angles,” Kapler said. “I don’t think we played very good defense, didn’t take advantage of good scoring opportunities and didn’t pitch as good as we can. From every angle, it wasn’t a crisp game.”
Milwaukee’s prize prospect Keston Hiura, coming off a two-hit performance in his major league debut Tuesday, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Wednesday.
“It’s the big leagues now,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “There’s a ton of excitement on the first day, and the game doesn’t get any easier or any harder — it’s just the second day. Now you settle in and realize that it’s good baseball, and you just have to keep having good at-bats.”
–Field Level Media