Young pitchers toe rubber as Phillies host Mets

PHILADELPHIA -- When the Philadelphia Phillies honor their legendary players Sunday afternoon, it will be a pair of young arms still looking to find themselves in the big leagues squaring off for the Phillies and Mets.

Right-hander Zach Eflin (1-3, 5.67 ERA) will make his second start since returning from the disabled list for the Phillies and opposes Chris Flexen, who makes his fourth career start.

Eflin is coming off of arguably his best performance of the season when he went seven innings and allowed two runs against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 8.

Following up a performance like the one Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola gave against the Mats on Saturday night is no easy task, but Nola's command and use of both sides of the plate is something that Phillies manager Pete Mackanin wants to see from his entire pitching staff.

"We like to see our guys come in on hitters," Mackanin said. "One of the things that (Steven) Matz did well there was use both sides of the plate ... I was happy to see (Aaron) Nola do that and I want to see more of that to keep those hitters honest."

Eflin has struggled with his command this season, giving up 12 home runs in nine starts, but his performance against Atlanta last week is encouraging for Mackanin and the Phillies.

Perhaps more encouraging is the play of Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera. After a turbulent stretch of the season that had many fans questioning his effort level, Herrera has hit safely in 15 consecutive games, the longest streak of any Phillies player this season.

The Mets will look to win the rubber-match of the series when they send Flexen (1-1, 8.43) to the hill.

Pitching only three innings while stretching his arm out in each of his first two starts, Flexen went 5 2/3 against the Rangers last week to earn his first career victory.

With the departure of second baseman Neil Walker, who was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday evening with cash for a player to be named later, the Mets now have an opening at second base. Veteran Jose Reyes stepped in Saturday and will most likely fill in for Walker until Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson decide on a permanent solution.

"We talked about seeing what some of our players can do for 2018 and I think this series of transactions opens up the opportunity for us to observe some new players," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said.

"I think you'll see Reyes there, you'll see Flores there. We've got plenty of coverage there as I think we do at all of the infield positions."

New York outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has hit the ball extremely well inside the confines of Citizens Bank Park, and he'll get another opportunity to add to his eye-popping numbers in Philadelphia on Sunday. He has 10 home runs in 18 games in Philadelphia, the best numbers he has in any other away ballpark.
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