Phillies (3-3) vs. Mets (3-3)
7:05 p.m. on TCN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App
The Phillies over the weekend won an April series against the Nationals for the second straight year, taking two of three behind an unforgettable offensive display Saturday and a dramatic, sigh-of-relief walk-off win Sunday.
Every NL East team except the Braves (1-5) has begun the season 3-3.
The Phillies welcome in the other division heavyweight this week, beginning a three-game series Monday against the Mets.
Let's have a look:
1. New week, new closer?
Pete Mackanin will announce today who the Phillies are moving forward with in the ninth inning.
Jeanmar Gomez had an ugly outing Sunday, blowing a three-run save by allowing a mammoth blast by Ryan Zimmerman. It was the second homer Gomez has allowed already in three appearances. Going back to last September, he's given up 10 extra-base hits in 66 plate appearances -- scary numbers for a closer.
Through the All-Star break last season, Gomez had 24 saves, a 2.59 ERA and his opponents hit .237/.283/.355.
Since that point, Gomez has a 9.00 ERA in 30 innings and his opponents have hit .356/.418/.534.
The candidates to replace Gomez as closer are Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit and Edubray Ramos. The thought here is that it should be Benoit -- Neris is the best of the bunch but he's also extremely valuable as a setup man. Sunday was a perfect example: Neris came into a seventh-inning jam, picked up a huge third out, then retired the top of the Nationals' order in the eighth.
2. Top of the order getting it done
Optimists looked at the Phillies' 1-2-3 of Cesar Hernandez, Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera and saw three hitters capable of hitting .290 or better and two guys in Hernandez and Herrera who can post .360-plus on-base percentages.
So far, all three have hit.
Hernandez is 7 for 26 (.269) in the early going with two doubles, a triple, a homer, two walks and a walk-off hit.
Kendrick is 9 for 21 with three doubles, a triple and five RBIs.
And Herrera has a hit in every game, going 8 for 22 with five walks. His 13 times on base ranks second in the National League behind only Paul Goldschmidt (14).
Jerad Eickhoff, a 6-foot-4 model of consistency if ever there was one, makes his second start tonight against a good Mets team.
Eickhoff allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings last week in Cincinnati. The Phillies, as they're prone to do, didn't help him offensively and he took the loss.
Eickhoff has faced the Mets in seven of his 42 career starts. He's pitched well, posting a 2.66 ERA in those games with a 1.00 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 44 innings, numbers that mean more than the 1-4 record.
Current Mets have hit just .218 with a .279 OBP against Eickhoff. Only Michael Conforto (5 for 14, two doubles and a homer) and Asdrubal Cabrera (4 for 9) have had success.
Yoenis Cespedes is 2 for 12 off him, Curtis Granderson is 2 for 15 and Neil Walker is 1 for 8.
4. Another tough righty
The Phillies missed Noah Syndergaard, who pitched Sunday night, but they draw Jacob deGrom tonight and Matt Harvey tomorrow. That means that in the span of five games, they'll have faced Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, deGrom and Harvey.
What a joy the NL East is.
First up is deGrom (can you start a sentence with a lower-case letter?), who allowed two hits in six shutout innings last week against the Braves in a no-decision.
Syndergaard gets most of the headlines because of his 99 mph fastball and the fact that he looks like he was created in a lab somewhere, but deGrom has been every bit as good since debuting in 2014. In 77 starts, deGrom has a 2.71 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.2 walks.
The 28-year-old deGrom has faced the Phillies seven times and never lost, going 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA. The Phils have hit .188 off him in three games at Citizens Bank Park.
I remember deGrom's first year, his first start against the Phils, just thinking, "This guy is going to be really damn good."
Maybe it was the classic, wiry frame for a pitcher. Maybe it was the hair. Maybe it was the 11 strikeouts. It was probably the 11 strikeouts.
He has a five-pitch mix that includes a 94 to 96 mph fastball, a sinker at nearly the same velocity, an 89 mph slider, a changeup in the mid-80s and a curveball around 80. DeGrom gets swings and misses with all of them.
5. This and that
• ESPN did a hilarious segment last night on all the gear Cespedes wears at the plate. It's completely ridiculous -- lime green arm band, elbow pads, knee pads, foot pads, multiple chains. It looks like it must take him 15 minutes to get ready for an at-bat. Swaggiest player in the majors?
• Jose Reyes (1 for 23, seven strikeouts) is a shell of the player he used to be. He's been playing third base every day for the Mets.
• David Wright suffered a setback getting ready for the season and it's unclear whether he'll play or not this season. As much as he kills the Phillies, it'a shame to see such a competitor have his career derailed by injuries.