Phillies

Mets 10, Phillies 5: Zach Eflin's start over in a New York minute

Mets 10, Phillies 5: Zach Eflin's start over in a New York minute

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NEW YORK – The Phillies suffered one of their most disappointing – and probably damaging – defeats of the season in a 10-5 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field on Saturday night.

The Mets tagged starting pitcher Zach Eflin for six runs in three innings.

The Phillies were unable to build on the positive vibes of Friday night’s 4-3 win and now have the most difficult task of facing Cy Young frontrunner Jacob deGrom in the series finale on Sunday.

The Phillies have not won a series since Aug. 2-5 when they swept the Marlins. They are 11-19 since then and are still in the NL East race only because first-place Atlanta has been inconsistent and not run away with it. The Phils entered Saturday night’s debacle trailing Atlanta by 2 ½ games. The Braves were playing in Arizona. The Phils have 21 games remaining, including seven against Atlanta.

Eflin struggles again

Eflin was the Phillies MVP in the month of June. He went 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in that month. He allowed six runs the entire month. He gave up that many in three innings of work Saturday night. The Mets feasted on Eflin’s flat slider. He gave up a three-run double to Tomas Nido and a three-run homer to Todd Frazier on the pitch. Both of those big hits came with two outs. Eflin also gave up a triple on the pitch.

Prolonged struggles

Over his last five starts, Eflin has given up 36 hits and 20 earned runs for a 7.71 ERA. These struggles have coincided with his controversial 10-day “demotion” to Triple A last month. The front office sent Eflin to the minors so it could manipulate the roster and add an extra player. Eflin never actually missed a start because he was allowed to come back to the majors for a doubleheader. He initially was not happy with the move, but later said he understood it. He has not been the same pitcher since the move.

A wasted chance

Eflin’s inability to keep the Phillies in the game early hurt because the bats did come alive to produce 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings against Mets starter Noah Syndergaard. The right-hander also issued five walks, one intentionally. Despite all those base runners, the Phillies scored just four runs against Syndergaard. They left the bases loaded twice. Jose Bautista pinch-hit with the bases full and the Phils down five runs in the seventh. The Phils needed a big hit from Bautista, but he struck out swinging at what would have been ball four.

Hoskins heating

Rhys Hoskins homered for the second straight game. Carlos Santana had two hits as he continues to swing a hot bat. Cesar Hernandez had four hits.

Dominant 

The Mets are 47-25 against the Phillies since the start of the 2015 season.

They are 9-6 against the Phillies this season.

More injury woes for Quinn 

Here’s the latest on Roman Quinn’s latest injury.

Up next

deGrom, Sunday’s Mets’ starter, leads the majors with a 1.68 ERA. He 7-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 14 lifetime starts against the Phillies. He struck out nine and walked none in a complete-game win over the Phillies last month in Philadelphia. Vince Velasquez pitches for the Phillies.

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Gabe Kapler's Malibu home destroyed in California wildfires

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Gabe Kapler's Malibu home destroyed in California wildfires

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was among the many who lost their homes to the wildfires spreading throughout California.

It was Kapler's residence in Malibu. He and his family are safe, and his thoughts are with the community affected by the tragedy, a Phillies spokesperson said.

At least 31 people have been killed, more than 200 remain missing, and hundreds of thousands were forced to evacuate their homes as multiple fires rage across California. 

Kapler was born in Hollywood. In addition to his home in Malibu, he has one in Philly, and was in Philadelphia as recently as last week.

Phillies could use Bryce Harper's personality just as much as his bat

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Phillies could use Bryce Harper's personality just as much as his bat

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in MLB. Monday is dedicated to Nationals slugger Bryce Harper.

This is the winter the Phillies have been waiting for.

This is the type of guy they have been waiting for.

Bryce Harper.

Much of the baseball world believes the Phillies are the favorites to sign Harper. He’s already turned down $300 million from the incumbent Washington Nationals, according to a report in the Washington Post. Some of the other big-market clubs — the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs — that have long been mentioned as potential suitors might not make strong plays for the slugging outfielder because of payroll concerns. The San Francisco Giants are going through some front-office turnover and have not decided whether they will be in it for Harper. The Chicago White Sox are a big-market club, but will a bright-lights guy like Harper be in a hurry to join a 100-loss team that is often an afterthought in its own city? Everything lines up for the Phillies and Harper is excellent fit.

To wit:

The Phillies, who improved by 14 wins in 2018, are a team on the rise.

They have the money to give Harper the deal he is looking for, a contract that will eclipse Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325 million package.

They have the need for a superstar talent.

And Harper, who turned 26 last month, is going to be a superstar for a long time. Whoever signs him is going to get many, many of his prime years as his career arcs toward Cooperstown.

There is so much to like about Harper as a potential Phillie.

Age-wise, he fits in nicely with the existing core of Rhys Hoskins, who turns 26 in March, and Aaron Nola, who will turn 26 in June.

He has star power, personality and panache, something this team could use as it searches for a face, an identity that will help sell tickets.

But nothing sells tickets and fires up TV ratings more than winning and Harper will help this team win.

He has the plate discipline (a majors high 130 walks in 2018) and power (34 homers) that the Phillies are trying to construct a lineup around.

He’s produced an OPS of over 1.000 two of the last four seasons.

He loves hitting in Citizens Bank Park. In 50 career games there, he has a .930 OPS and 14 homers and 32 RBIs.

There is something else to like about Harper. He has a healthy competitive sneer that will rub off on teammates. Watching Harper from afar, you get the sense that he will be angry if he hasn’t won a couple of World Series rings by the time his career is over. That’s a good intangible. That’s good fuel. It’s difficult to see money corrupting this guy’s drive.

There are other players in this free-agent market that, like Harper, would make the Phillies better. In the coming days, we will look at those players.

But if the Phillies can come away from this winter with Bryce Harper, they will have taken a huge step forward in their quest to get John Middleton’s (bleeping) trophy back.

It could take a deal of 10 years or more to get Harper. Contracts of that length seldom end well. But Harper is the kind of player, still young and full of talent, that can help the Phillies win a couple of World Series and if that happens no one will complain about a couple of uncomfortable years at the end.

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