By Lewis Gould
Four days after the Phillies acquired Jason Vargas in a little-to-lose trade, they start their stretch drive with the veteran lefty tonight against the Chicago White Sox in the opener of a three-game set at CBP.
The Phillies sent cash and light-hitting Double-A catcher Austin Bossart to the New York Mets on Monday in exchange for Vargas (6-5, 4.01 ERA), who had a 3.27 ERA over his final 16 appearances with the Mets. The 36-year-old also made it into the sixth inning in 10 of those outings.
“He gives us depth,” Phils manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after the trade. “He gives us stability and a guy who has been extremely competitive over a really long period of time.”
Vargas will be up against a Chicago team that’s lost four in a row and hasn’t scored more than two runs in any of those losses.
Chicago will try to end the losing streak behind right-hander Ivan Nova, who has also delivered better results with each month this season.
Nova (6-9, 5.23) went 3-2 in five starts in July with a 3.16 ERA.
Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper is 6-for-13 in his career off Nova with two home runs, six RBIs and no strikeouts.
The arrival of Vargas has shifted right-hander Zach Eflin to the bullpen for the first time in his four-year career.
Eflin had a 10.73 ERA in his last six starts before making the first relief appearance of his major league career on Wednesday in a 5-1 loss to the Giants. He tossed a scoreless inning, but surrendered a hit and two walks along the way.
Eflin could come in handy when the top right-handed hitters for the White Sox come up late in the game, however.
“One of the things that we’re potentially excited about is seeing Eflin in a role where he could take down several righties in a row,” Kapler said. “Utilize his good fastball-slider combination, among his other offerings, to be effective out of the pen.”