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Phillies' Eflin Tosses MLB-Best 2nd Complete Game in Shutout of Royals

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Saturday evening, Philadelphia Phillies RHP Zach Eflin entered "uncharted territory" for the 2019 season while tossing nine shutout innings to blank the Kansas City Royals, 7-0, at Kauffman Stadium.

Eflin became the first MLB pitcher this season to toss multiple complete games, with his other coming just two starts prior, a 5-1 win home against the Miami Marlins on April 28. He threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of his 31 batters faced, while inducing nine swinging strikes out of 110 pitches and 76 strikes overall.

In addition to leading MLB in complete games, Eflin is also tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks' Zack Greinke and the Milwaukee Brewers' Brandon Woodruff for the most wins (5) in the NL; his 2.47 ERA ranks seventh-best among qualified NL pitchers.

Only nine other pitchers, six in the National League, have logged a complete game in 2019: Carlos Carrasco (CLE), Mike Fiers (OAK), Kyle Hendricks (CHC), Derek Holland (SF), German Marquez (COL), Mike Minor (TEX), Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD), Noah Syndergaard (NYM) and Jameson Taillon (PIT).

Also in the win, Rhys Hoskins brought home his National League third-best 34th RBI, with a third-inning two-RBI double to put the Phillies on the board, 2-0. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger (38) and the Brewers' Christian Yelich (37) have more RBI in the NL. Leadoff batter Andrew McCutchen also drove home two RBI, while Odubel Herrera slugged his eighth double and first triple. Cesar Hernandez and Andrew Knapp each walked twice.

Knapp told Philly.com's Scott Lauber post-game that Eflin's two complete games are "two of the most dominant outings" he has seen "in a long time. ... It's awesome. I feel really fortunate to be able to catch him."

Eflin now has four complete games (two shutouts) in his career; the other two complete games were tossed in the right-hander's rookie season, 2016. Lauber writes:

The latest gem marked Eflin’s second career shutout, the other coming on July 22, 2016, in Pittsburgh. That game, like this one, occurred in the midst of an impressive stretch in which he posted a 2.08 ERA in seven starts.

Over Eflin's last three starts (25 innings), he has surrendered just two runs, 15 hits and two walks while striking out 15 of his 89 batters faced — good for a 0.72 ERA and .179/.216/.226 opposing slash.

Phillies southpaw prospect Cole Irvin will make his MLB debut in the Mother's Day series finale rubber match; he has gone 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA spanning 36 innings at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season.

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