Phillies-Mets 5 things: Phils need longer outing from Vince Velasquez

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Phils need longer outing from Vince Velasquez

Phillies (3-5) vs. Mets (5-3)
7:05 p.m. on TCN; streaming live on and the NBC Sports App


The Mets came into Citizens Bank Park and had themselves a home run derby, one even more eye-popping than last April 19 when the Mets came here and hit six homers.

This time, they hit seven. Yoenis Cespedes hit three (411 feet on the first, 428 on the second, 382 on the third), Lucas Duda hit two (448 on the first, 375 on the second), Asdrubal Cabrera hit one (393), as did Travis d'Arnaud (354).  

The Mets have a tendency to make Citizens Bank Park look like a little-league field and they did it again Tuesday.

1. Straight dominance
The Mets are 28-12 in their last 40 games against the Phillies

They've hit 27 home runs against the Phils in 11 games since the start of 2016 -- no National League team has more homers in any opposing ballpark over that span.

The Mets had 20 hits and 14 extra-base hits last night. The last team in the majors to do that was actually the Mets vs. the Phillies in August 2015. Prior to that, no team had done it since 1999. 

It's been done only 10 times since 1940. 

2. Pitching shakeup
After the game, the Phillies optioned LHP Adam Morgan to Triple A. The Phillies have recalled Luis Garcia from Lehigh Valley to get the Phillies a fresh arm in the bullpen.

Morgan had an ugly outing in relief of the injured Clay Buchholz last night, no doubt. But just keep in mind how difficult the role of "long man in a blowout" can be. You're entering a situation where the other team is comfortably ahead, numerous hitters are locked in and feeling confident and playing with nothing to lose. Typically, a long man is a long man because he doesn't have great stuff. We saw Brett Oberholtzer struggle continually in the role last season and Morgan did the same last night.

It's a shame for Morgan, "a tough pill to swallow," as he called it, but he also deserves credit for standing there and facing the questions from reporters Tuesday night. A lot of guys would have packed their stuff and gotten out of there ASAP. 

Who knows if this is the last we see of Morgan, but last night's outing certainly had to make the Phillies wonder whether he's worth carrying in that role.

3. Innings needed from Velasquez
Vince Velasquez exceeded six innings in only three of his 24 starts last season. Pete Mackanin and Bob McClure are really hoping he does so tonight.

The Phillies didn't use any of their back-end bullpen pieces last night, saving Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit, Edubray Ramos and Pat Neshek in the blowout. But a longer outing tonight for Velasquez would be important for his confidence and really for the entire team's psyche given the Mets' recent ownership of their starting pitchers.

Velasquez's first start was almost an exaggerated version of who he was last season: lots of flashes, lots of strikeouts, lots of pitches, early exit.

Against the Nationals, Velasquez lasted four innings, giving up four runs and two homers, walking three and striking out 10. It was his fourth 10-strikeout game already as a Phillie.

Velasquez has tended to struggle against better offensive teams like the Cubs and Nats, but the Mets have so much swing-and-miss potential in their lineup that this could be a productive night for him as long as he's spotting his fastball. 

Current Mets have hit .213 off Velasquez with 18 strikeouts in 47 at-bats and only two have homered off him: Cespedes and Michael Conforto.

4. Wheeler's long road back
The Mets tonight start 23-year-old right-hander Zach Wheeler, the sixth overall pick in 2009 who they acquired from the San Francisco Giants in 2011 for a half-season of Carlos Beltran.

Wheeler impressed in 2013 and 2014 with the Mets, going 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings over 49 starts. 

Then in March 2015 he was diagnosed with a torn UCL and required Tommy John surgery. He missed all of that season.

He continued rehabbing in 2016, beginning the year on the 60-day DL and not making a rehab start until Aug. 6. He threw 17 pitches in that game before exiting and being diagnosed with a flexor strain in his right arm. The Mets eventually shut him down for the season.

Wheeler made his return last week, allowing five runs in four innings to the Marlins. His fastball was in the 93 to 95 mph range but he couldn't locate his slider and changeup, throwing only 12 of 21 for strikes.

Look for Wheeler to try to get a feel for those pitches early.

Because he spent the last two years on the shelf, only two active Phillies have ever seen the 6-4 right-hander: Cesar Hernandez and Andres Blanco are each 1 for 2.

5. This and that
• The Phillies are third in the NL with 42 runs scored but, of course, 17 of them came in the one game last Saturday against Washington. In their other seven games, they've averaged 3.57 runs, which is even lower than last season's 3.77.

• Hernandez was the only Phillie to have a multi-hit game last night. He and Howie Kendrick have done their job so far atop the order, though it's surprising that Hernandez hasn't attempted a stolen base a week into the season.

• Noah Syndergaard tweeted last night: "Home team stadium started the WAVE tonight. Lost 14-4. Coincidence?"

The man has a point. Perhaps the wind created from all those waving arms provided the extra juice on Lucas Duda's 448-foot homer or Cespedes' 428-footer.

But in general, I agree with Syndergaard: Ban the wave.

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick on Saturday night made his fourth rehab appearance in Triple A during Lehigh Valley's 13-1 rout of the Louisville Bats in Allentown.

Kendrick went 1 for 5 with a run scored and three strikeouts. He also grounded into a double play and left two runners in scoring position.

It was his second rehab game playing third base. He played third during his appearance in the IronPigs' 8-4 loss Thursday to the Indianapolis Indians. He was 0 for 1 in three plate appearances with a run scored and was hit by a pitch twice (see story).

The Phillies' plan for Kendrick was to have him play a minimum four games at Lehigh Valley. He played left field in two games and third base twice. Pete Mackanin said Wednesday that Kendrick would also get a game at first base but he hasn't gotten a game at first yet.

There is a chance Kendrick could be recalled Sunday before the Phillies’ series finale against the Cincinnati Reds depending on how he feels.

Kendrick has been sidelined since April 15 with an oblique strain. In 10 games before the injury, Kendrick went 13 for 39 (.333) with five extra-base hits and four walks while exclusively playing left field.

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

MIAMI -- Mike Trout hit his major league-leading 16th homer, and the Los Angeles Angels reached the .500 mark for the 12th time this season by beating Miami 5-2 Saturday.

Trout's first-inning homer into the beer garden in left field was estimated at 443 feet, which pleased a fair portion of the crowd at Marlins Park.

"Hate Fish Love Trout," read a sign held by an Angels fans.

J.C. Ramirez (5-3) limited Miami to an unearned run in seven innings and benefited from excellent defense. Bud Norris, who tweaked his right knee and left Friday's game after throwing only three pitches, gave up a homer to Marcell Ozuna in the ninth (see full recap).

Strasburg K's career-high 15, Nats down Padres 3-0
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg dominated San Diego with a career-high 15 strikeouts while allowing three hits over seven innings as the Washington Nationals beat the Padres 3-0 on Saturday.

Strasburg (6-1) singled and scored Washington's first run on Bryce Harper's RBI grounder in the third inning. Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer for the second consecutive game.

San Diego's lineup offered little resistance against Strasburg the day after Max Scherzer dominated the Padres with 13 strikeouts in Washington's 5-1 win.

Strasburg struck out the side in the third and sixth and had at least two in the first six innings.

The right-hander previously struck out 14 batters twice including his Major League debut on June 8, 2010. He set a personal best by setting down Franchy Cordero in the seventh (see full recap).

Yankees held hitless into 6th by Cotton, but beat A's 3-2
NEW YORK -- Oakland rookie Jharel Cotton held the Yankees hitless until Matt Holliday launched a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning that sent resurgent CC Sabathia and New York to a 3-2 victory Saturday.

Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was in the right spot for a pair of key catches to boost the AL East leaders, who won with just two hits.

Sabathia (5-2) has won three straight starts for the first time since April 2013. The 36-year-old lefty pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.

Dellin Betances escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth, an inning that included the ejections of A's hitter Jed Lowrie and manager Bob Melvin for arguing strike three calls. Betances closed for his fifth save.

Cotton (3-5) was promoted from Triple-A Nashville before the game. He began the season in the Athletics' rotation but was sent down to the minors May 11 to refine his game (see full recap).

Bautista hits 3-run HR, Blue Jays beat Rangers 3-1
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer that backed Marco Estrada, and the Toronto Blue Bays beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 Saturday and matched their longest winning streak this season at five.

Shin-soo Choo homered into the center-field party deck on the first pitch of the game from Marco Estrada, but Bautista hit a two-out drive in the fifth, his eighth home run in May after one in April.

Estrada (4-2) allowed four hits in six innings to win for the third time in four starts. Aaron Loup got one out in the seventh, Ryan Tepera finished the inning and Joe Smith worked the eighth. Roberto Osuna threw a perfect ninth for his ninth save, completing a six-hitter.

Darvish (5-3) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. He had been 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in six starts since losing April 18 at Oakland. Texas has lost five in a row for the first time this year (see full recap).