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.

Phillies recall Jake Thompson from Triple A, option Ricardo Pinto to Lehigh Valley

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Phillies recall Jake Thompson from Triple A, option Ricardo Pinto to Lehigh Valley

After Monday night's rain-soaked blowout loss, the Phillies' bullpen seems to be a bit depleted.

With that in mind, the Phillies have recalled pitcher Jake Thompson from Triple A and optioned reliever Ricardo Pinto to Lehigh Valley.

After a lengthy rain delay cut short Vince Velasquez's start, the Phils' bullpen was charged with six innings of work in the 13-4 loss. Pinto, responsible for five of the runs, tossed 1 1/3 innings as play resumed in the fourth inning. 

He may not be down for long, though, as the Phils have an off day Thursday to recover.

Thompson seems like a peculiar choice to call up. He's struggled mightily this year in Lehigh Valley. The 23-year-old who came over in the Cole Hamels trade, is 4-11 with a 5.36 ERA. He's given up 107 hits in 94 innings pitched, as well as 36 walks on the year — one less than he gave up in 129 2/3 innings in 2016.

However, Thompson is already on the 40-man roster and has not pitched since going seven strong innings of two-run ball on July 20. 

Tonight's lineup: Phillies showcasing Howie Kendrick in cleanup spot

Tonight's lineup: Phillies showcasing Howie Kendrick in cleanup spot

With less than a week to go before the trade deadline, the Phillies are putting Howie Kendrick in prime position to show off his skillset to a contender.

After sitting out last night's 14-3 loss, Kendrick returns to the lineup, batting cleanup and playing left field. In four games since returning from a hamstring injury, Kendrick has picked up where he left off, hitting .364 with two RBIs. Overall, Kendrick has appeared in just 37 games for the Phillies in 2017, but has been exceptional when healthy. 

Although he may not hit for power, his .350 batting average and ability to play multiple positions in the infield and outfield should be enough to interest teams. 

Cesar Hernandez will again lead off vs. the Astros. Much like Kendrick, Hernandez has had a strong return from the DL, hitting .321 with six RBIs in seven games since the All-Star break. He's also worked five walks compared to just three strikeouts. It's no surprise Hernandez's return has coincided with the Phillies' recent hot offensive stretch (see Game Notes)

Since the All-Star break, the Phillies have the seventh-most runs scored in all of baseball. Monday's loss ended a stretch of seven straight games of five or more runs scored for the Phillies — their longest single-season stretch since 2005.

Nick Williams will hit in the three-hole for the second straight game. Williams has sparked the Phils' stagnant offense since his arrival to the big leagues. In 20 MLB games, Williams is slashing .315/.350/.966 with four homers and 18 RBIs. 

Here is the Phillies lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Howie Kendrick, LF
5. Odubel Herrera, CF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Tommy Joseph, 1B
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Nick Pivetta, P

And for the Astros:
1. Jose Altuve, 2B
2. Josh Reddick, RF
3. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
4. Evan Gattis, C
5. Marwin Gonzalez, SS
6. Derek Fisher, CF
7. Alex Bregman, 3B
8. Norichika Aoki, LF
9. Charlie Morton, P