Game 21: Please Do Not Lose to the Black-Clad Islanders.

Game 21: Please Do Not Lose to the Black-Clad Islanders.

Coming off a pair of losses to two weaker NHL clubs, the Flyers get a crack at one of the absolute worst tonight up in Long Island. As is their custom, the Islanders are playing woefully bad hockey and currently sit in the cellar of the Eastern Conference with just 13 points on five wins.

In their last two games, the Isles have been shut out 6-0 and 5-0 by the Bruins and Penguins, respectively. They've won just twice this month, hell, just twice since the middle of October. The Flyers have scored more than twice as many goals in two more games (73 vs 35), with the Islanders posting the fewest goals in the league, averaging less than two per contest.

In other words, the Flyers should be able to reverse their two-game skid tonight. Of course, the Eagles lost to the Cardinals, so… let's not take anything for granted. Below, a look at goalies, lineup notes, and what the Mets Islanders will be wearing tonight.

Ilya Bryzgalov gets the start in net for the Flyers, facing Rick DiPietro. Look for the Isles to try get the game trending rough. They've called up Michael Haley to provide a spark. Katie Strang of ESPN says Brian Rolston, Marty Reasoner, and Nino Niederreiter won't play.  

Chris Pronger did not make the trip, still bothered by a virus. Braydon Coburn and Jaromir Jagr will suit up, per Neil Hartman.

AS IF ISLANDERS FANS NEEDED ANOTHER REASON NOT TO BUY A JERSEY
Finally, the Isles will debut a new third jersey tonight. Mostly black, it has the full team name rainbowed over the front. Looks pretty freaking weird without the logo if you ask me, but it beats the fisherman travesty. As for the black/blue/orange combo… pretty reminiscent of the black Mets jerseys (no longer in use), so it shouldn't be too hard to get your feelings in order about tonight's opponent.

We're headed out for the night, so it might be a little quiet with the posts later on. Should be around for a few tomorrow though. Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Alec Asher's two-seamer shines in another effective outing

Alec Asher's two-seamer shines in another effective outing

NEW YORK -- Alec Asher’s two-seamer was nearly perfect against the Mets on Saturday night — even if the pitching line was attached to his name was decidedly less so.

The rookie exited after five innings with four unearned runs attached to his name — two Phillies’ throwing errors on playable ground balls will do that — but lowered his ERA to 1.66 in a 10-8 victory that was far, far closer than it needed to be.

Lost in the shuffle of the Phillies bullpen’s attempt at self-immolation was just how effective Asher’s newly-developed two-seam fastball was in the early innings against the Mets’ full lineup. The relatively slow pitch — it was sitting around 90 MPH Saturday — generated six popouts during his perfect first trip through the batting order.

“Being able to throw a pitch that’s not straight works wonders,” Asher said. “Last year, I didn’t really have success throwing the four-seam, so just adding that little bit of movement misses barrels, [generates] mishits and gave me a lot of ground balls and weak contact, which is all I can ask for.”

Opponents are batting just .182 off Asher’s two-seamer in his four starts this year, according to data from Fangraphs.com, a complete 180 from his disastrous September call-up in 2015.

In his first major league starts, Asher struggled to establish a mound presence with a four-seamer that nearly touched 95 MPH. Opponents batted .250 and got seven extra-base hits off the four seamer as Asher finished 2015 with an ugly 9.31 ERA.

The Phillies challenged Asher to generative more movement on the pitch and he returned in Spring Training with an entirely new repertoire.

So far, the effort has paid off.

“It’s outstanding. It’s been a real good pitch for him and his changeup,” manager Pete Mackanin said of Asher’s two-seamer. “He didn’t have either pitch last year, and for him to come up with it over the course of the winter and throw those pitches so effectively is huge.”

Asher relied on the changeup to escape the fifth inning — the only high-stress situation he faced all evening.

With four runs already in, a fifth runner poised on third base and a Citi Field crowd beside itself in hopes of a miracle comeback, Asher got pinch-hitter James Loney to top a low changeup out of the zone down the first base line that Tommy Joseph stopped with a dive.

“[I wanted] just to slow the game down and take it pitch by pitch,” Asher said.

Even if Saturday wound up being perhaps a bit more frantic than he would have liked to be, Asher has developed a formula for future success as he prepares for his final start of the season next Friday — also against the Mets — and 2017.

“Just establishing the fastball, commanding both sides of the plate and changing speeds,” he said.

His two-run single in the first inning on Saturday night — his first two career RBIs and, ultimately, the winning margin — was a bonus.

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Today's lineup: Jorge Alfaro makes second straight start

Today's lineup: Jorge Alfaro makes second straight start

Catcher Jorge Alfaro is making his second straight start after Saturday's 10-8 win.

Alfaro, the Phillies' top catching prospect, has gone 0 for 11 with a walk in his three career starts, all coming in the last two weeks since he was called up. Alfaro was acquired in the Cole Hamels trade last July and is 1 for 13 with a walk in five games. 

The 23-year-old will catch Jake Thompson in a game that means a lot more to the Mets (1:10/CSN).

Giving Alfaro playing time allows Phillies fans the chance to get a glimpse of the future. Roman Quinn has received plentiful playing time after was called up in the mid-September and Alfaro, like Quinn, is trying to leave an impression on the Phillies' brass before spring training.

Quinn is not in the lineup on Sunday as Aaron Altherr and Cody Asche man the corner outfield spots. Freddy Galvis moved up to second in the lineup after staying in the bottom half of the lineup in recent games.

Ryan Howard will bat fifth, playing likely his final game at Citi Field with the Phillies. While he has batted just .203 in 52 career games at Citi Field, he alos has 11 home runs there after smashing 12 homers at Shea Stadium, the Mets' previous stadium.

Here's the full lineup that will oppose Robert Gsellman and the Mets.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cody Asche, LF
7. Aaron Altherr, RF
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Jake Thompson, P

For more on today's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes

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