Strength against strength: Phillies’ pitching vs. Jays’ hitting

The Philadelphia Phillies‘ pitching staff was dominant during the first half of the team’s current homestand. Those arms are looking for the same success against an interleague opponent this weekend.

The Toronto Blue Jays visit Citizens Bank Park for a three-game series that starts Friday night. It’s the first meeting between the teams since June 16, 2016.

The Phillies started their week with a series win against the Atlanta Braves. Philadelphia’s pitchers shut out Atlanta twice in the series and allowed just three runs in the other game.

Entering the weekend, the Phillies ranked third in the major leagues with a 3.36 team ERA.

“Our pitching has been really strong,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said after Wednesday’s 4-0 win. ” … That leads me to believe our staff is really good, to hold (the Braves) down like that, and our bullpen was able to come in and shut them down as well.”

As Kapler noted, the Phillies are getting strong outings from starters and relievers. Philadelphia’s bullpen has a 3.56 ERA (ranked ninth in the major leagues) and a .232 batting average against.

“There are a lot of good arms in that bullpen. A lot of ways to deploy our guys,” Kapler said. ” … We got great arms, we got great mix and match options and we’re always prepared and picking each other up. We don’t have to look for one (pitcher) or one specific inning.”

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, have one of the top offenses in baseball. Toronto averages 4.7 runs per game, and the team’s 65 homers through 50 games are the fourth most in baseball.

Zach Eflin (1-0, 1.56 ERA) will be the first Phillies starter to face the Blue Jays. Eflin, a right-hander, is making his fourth start of the season.

Eflin’s last start was his shortest with the Phillies this season. He went 4 2/3 innings against the Cardinals and gave up four runs (two earned) and three hits. Eflin, 24, has still only allowed three earned runs in 17 1/3 innings this year.

Eflin’s only other appearance against the Blue Jays came in his major league debut. It didn’t go so well. Eflin gave up eight earned runs, nine hits (three homers) and three walks against the Blue Jays on June 14, 2016.

Sam Gaviglio will be starting for the Blue Jays as he continues to try and make his case for a long-term spot in the rotation. WIth Jaime Garcia and Marcus Stroman on the disabled list, Gaviglio got the nod against Oakland last Saturday.

The 26-year-old pitched well. Gaviglio, who has never faced the Phillies in his 19 major league appearances, threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up six hits and a walk while striking out six batters.

“We wanted to go after them right away. I didn’t want to get into too many deep counts and just trust the defense,” Gaviglio told MLB.com after the outing.

The Phillies are 4-0 in interleague play this season and the Blue Jays are 1-1 against the National League.